This episode is the first of a 4-part series that introduces you to the members of a palliative care team. Today Dr. Colin Scibetta discusses his role as the physician on the team and how palliative care differs from hospice care. In future episodes you’ll hear from the team nurse, social worker and chaplain.
As this episode airs I am enjoying a trip through Spain, including cycling in the Andalucia region! I’ll be back home in a few weeks to report on the trip. Follow me on Instagram to see my photos at kwyattmd or this link: https://www.instagram.com/kwyattmd/
This interview will cover:
What palliative care consists of
The difference between palliative care and hospice
The benefits of palliative care for patients
How the whole-person approach of palliative medicine also benefits care providers
Why Providence Institute for Human Caring (et al) was awarded the Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association
Colin Scibetta MD is a fellowship-trained palliative medicine physician who complete his undergrad in neuroscience and biology at Wesleyan University. He then moved to Ecuador where he worked on a health initiative for indigenous communities impacted by oil development. Dr. Scibetta did his undergraduate medical training at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where he also completed an internal medicine residency and a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine.
Remember to tune in next week for Part 2 of this palliative care series! If you enjoy this content be sure to share it with others who might find it helpful and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
In this episode I share an interview with Cheryl Jones, host of the Good Grief Radio Show, therapist and author of the newly-released novel An Ocean Between Them. We talk about the important subject of meeting the needs of members of the LGBTQ community at the end of life, which is part of the story told in her new book. Learn about Cheryl’s work here.
I’ll be leaving for Spain in just a few days! While I’m traveling you will be able to listen to a 4-part series on Palliative Care during this podcast so you won’t miss a single episode! If you’re interested you can follow my photos on Instagram at kwyattmd!
A HUGE THANK YOU to my latest supporters on Patreon.com/eolu: Lisa Milton, Debbie Hall and Christine Hazard Phillips. Your contributions are greatly appreciated and help keep this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series on the air. Join the team to get special bonus content!
CSU Institute for Palliative Care is holding a National Symposium on Palliative Care in San Diego October 11-12. Go to CSUpalliativecare.org to learn more.
My guest Cheryl Jones is a grief counselor, host of the Good Grief Radio Show on VoiceAmerica, and the author of the newly-released novel An Ocean Between Them. We will discuss the challenges that LGBTQ people experience in receiving care at the end of life and ways to make our organizations and facilities more inclusive.
In this interview you will learn:
Why members of the LGBTQ community access less healthcare than the general populatioN
Obstacles faced by LGBTQ individuals in receiving care in residential facilities, hospices, hospitals
Why a durable medical power of attorney is an essential document for all LGBTQ individuals
How the organization SAGE advocates for LGBTQ seniors
How to find common ground in end-of-life care even when we don’t agree on lifestyle choices
About post-traumatic growth and why it’s important to foster
Ways to create an LGBTQ-supportive environment in your organization or business
About Cheryl’s novel that addresses the challenges of LGBTQ relationships with family at the end of life
Cheryl Jones is the host of the radio show Good Grief. She is also a grief counselor and cancer educator. During her education as a Marriage and Family Therapist, her first wife was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, which was at the time a uniformly terminal illness with a six month to one year prognosis. In the eight + years that followed, Cheryl engaged daily in the work of preparing for her death. She received training during this period from Stephen and Ondrea Levine (Who Dies and Grieving Into Life and Death) and Richard Olney (founder of Self-Acceptance Training). After her wife’s death, Cheryl immersed herself in her own multifaceted grief, surprised by frequent moments of joy.
Cheryl is a consultant and group leader at the Free Therapy Program of the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, where she developed, manages and teachies in their Continuing Education program. She has trained extensively with Erving Polster, leader in the field of gestalt therapy and author of Everybody’s Life is worth a Novel. She was Clinical Director at the Alternative Family Project, which served the therapeutic needs of LGBTQ families in San Francisco. Finally she is the author of the recently published novel: An Ocean Between Them.
In this episode I share an interview I did with Joanna Penn on her podcast for authors “The Creative Penn.” We talk about why it’s important for authors to address death and grief in their writing and I’m sharing it with you to illustrate how we can talk about death with other people who don’t necessarily share our knowledge or interest. Learn more about Joanna’s awesome podcast here: www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/
This episode is sponsored by generous contributions on my page at Patreon.com/eolu. This week I’d like to thank my new patrons Mary Wilkinson, Joan Bretthauer, and Diane Adams! Your support means everything to me! To join the team and receive special bonuses go to Patreon.com/eolu.
Today I’m sharing with you an interview Joanna Penn did with me for her podcast The Creative Penn. A few weeks ago in Episode 156I discussed about how to talk to strangers about death and dying. My point was that we need to be bold enough to strike up conversations with people about death.
My interview with Joanna is an example of talking with someone not well-versed in end-of-life issues to show that it can be productive and inspirational at the same time. Joanna let me know that many of her listeners wrote to saw how much they enjoyed our interview and that it was very helpful to them personally and as writers. So let’s go have more conversations about death with people in all walks of life!
Lessons learned from working with those close to death
Paying attention to our inner passion for writing
Tips for dealing with death and grief in our characters and our writing. Joanna talks about some of the issues she tackled in her book Desecration.
Why we are able to write about grief that we might not have experienced personally
Why it’s okay to be comfortable with the subject of death
Changes in death culture as boomers age
There will be a new episode each Monday so be sure to tune in again! If you enjoy this content please share it with other and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
In this episode I share my thoughts on how to approach the very difficult task of making an end-of-life decision about the treatment a loved one should receive. Many people are called upon to be decision-makers in these challenging situations and this episode serves as a guide for choosing the best option for someone we love.Download the handout below:
This episode is sponsored by Suzanne O’Brien and her training program for caring for others at the end of life at Doulagivers.com and by your generous donations on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Join the team and receive special bonuses as a thank-you!
Thank you to all of my patrons and sponsors! Your support means everything to me!
Every day families are called upon to make nearly impossible decisions about the type of care a loved one should receive as they near the end of life. Here are some suggestions for how to navigate this challenging situation when there is no advance directive available for guidance:
Gather medical information from all healthcare providers involved in care
Ask direct questions:
What is the diagnosis and what complications have occurred?
What is the effectiveness of the recommended treatment?
What are the chances for recovery or improvement?
Are there side effects from the treatment or will it cause additional suffering?
What will happen if treatment is stopped?
What would you do if this were your loved one?
Get expert advice and guidance from a palliative care team if available in your hospital
Remember past conversations with your loved one that might give you clues as to his or her preferences for the end of life
Consider the statistics that most Americans prefer to die at home and most do not want aggressive treatment to prolong life in the face of an incurable condition
Ask your loved one for guidance by expressing your concern and your desire to make the best decision. Even though your loved one cannot verbalize, they can hear you – listen for any intuitive or “felt” guidance that might come to you about the best choice to make.
Be gentle with yourself and recognize that you have done your best in a challenging situation
Seek support from others outside your family
Tune in next week for another episode! Share this content with others who might it helpful and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
This episode is sponsored by my book What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying. This book focuses on the spiritual lessons I learned from my dying patients and how they changed my life!
This episode is sponsored by Authentic Presence training for healthcare providers from the Spiritual Care Program. You can receive a certificate in contemplative end-of-life care by completing this series of three courses, including an 8-day residential immersion retreat. Highly recommended!
Today Julie Saeger Nierenberg and Victoria Brewster join me to talk about their book Journey’s End: Death, Dying, and the End of Life, which is a compilation of quotes, stories and resources that look at death from various perspectives. In our conversation we discuss:
How Julie and Vikki ended up collaborating on this book
How the stories in the book are organized:
Personal Stories of Professionals and Lay People
Professional Support and Caregiving Perspectives
Funeral Home, Post-Death and Alternative Burial
Grief and Bereavement
How they chose the contributors for the book
The feedback they’ve received from readers
How this book of stories can be useful in many settings for both professionals and lay people
How to submit a story for the next book in the series which will feature various cultural, ethnic and religious perspectives on death and dying
Learn some tips for starting important conversations about death with people you are meeting for the first time!
In this episode I’ll share with you some stories about my recent yoga retreat and the many amazing conversations I was able to have with strangers about death and dying. I’ve got a few tips for you about starting up your own conversations about death with random strangers. (Here’s a photo from a sunrise hike I took during the retreat!)
Stay tuned to the end of the podcast as I’ll play her song Evocation as the Outro today!
A HUGE THANK YOU to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Karen Van Hoof! I appreciate your support very much. Thanks also to all of the other patrons – sign up and join the team for as little as $1 per month at Patreon.com/eolu!
Today I’ll tell you about my recent 5-day retreat at a yoga center where I went to relax, do yoga and finish revising one of my books. While I was there I had the pleasure of talking with many other visitors to the retreat center about death and dying, which was fascinating. Normally I don’t find many people out in the general public who want to talk about death. And while the people I conversed with weren’t necessarily interested in death before our discussion they each seemed to come away with a new understanding or sense of peace.
In order to confront our society’s fear of death we need many more conversations like this to happen every day with people who are not already tuned in to death awareness.
Each of us needs to step up and reach out to others to start a dialogue about death that might prove very helpful to our conversation partner and very informative for us.
Here are my tips for talking with strangers about death and dying:
Choose the right time and place: my conversations generally took place at the table while I was sharing a meal with various strangers. Breaking bread together creates an automatic sense of connection and safety since we usually associate mealtimes with positive feelings. There is also often some free time between courses where conversation can happen naturally. It may also work well to talk about death during other shared activities like hiking, gardening or cooking. Watch for the right opportunity to arise.
Find common ground first: make sure you have established a basic connection by talking about the meal (or the garden, or the hike, etc.) Since my conversation partners were also there for yoga classes we had an automatic common subject to begin chatting about while we established a connection.
Perfect your “elevator speech” which is a very brief story you tell whenever someone asks “What do you do?” The idea is that your answer is so brief you can complete it during a short elevator ride from one floor to the next. So think of one or two sentences you can use to answer that question and give another person an idea of your work. My answer at the yoga retreat was: “I’m a retired hospice physician who now writes books.” Tell them enough to garner their interest and curiosity and lead naturally to more questions. I purposely avoided mentioning death and dying in my initial introduction so that I wouldn’t frighten anyone away before we even got started. But most individuals I encountered were intrigued and asked more either about the hospice work or about the books I’m writing. Both of those questions led directly to a talk about death and dying. On several occasions the other person immediately brought up a story of a loved one or friend on hospice. Many times it was a story that desperately needed to be told and also came with questions about death, dying and hospice. I was amazed by the quality of conversation that occurred in these instances and the need for accurate information. I’m convinced that many people out there really do need to talk about death and dying but rarely encounter anyone they can speak to, which is where you come in!
Hone your listening skills: for these conversations focus on listening rather than telling your own story. Watch for cues from the other person that there is a need to say something and encourage them to talk by asking a question or two and stopping to listen attentively. We are all passionate about our work and other endeavors and there will be opportunities to share that at some point in the future. Initially it’s more important to just listen and hold space so that the other person can ask questions and get the support they need. Rely on your intuition to tell you when that person is ready for a little nudge or encouragement to go deeper into their feelings.
Share just enough information: again it is important to be a good listener so when you do describe your work don’t go overboard. Use simple and accurate terms to convey what you do but pause and allow the other person to ask for the information they need.
As you’ll hear when you listen to this episode I was able to have meaningful conversations with different people every day while I was at the retreat. These are some of the most important discussions we can be having right now so take a chance and strike up a conversation with a stranger about death and dying!
There will be a new episode every Monday so be sure to tune in again! And if you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
Learn how to leave a written legacy for your loved ones and enjoy a retreat in Mexico in the process!
In this episode I share a conversation with Michelle Pante and Reena Lazar of Willow, a company that helps people express their personal and healthcare wishes for the future and leave a legacy of the heart for the ones they love. They will share their stories and tell us about an innovative retreat to Mexico they are planning this year – just in time for Dia de los Muertos!
You can still join our online reading group A Year of Reading Dangerously if you’re interested in reading a book each month about death, dying and the afterlife. Register here if you want to receive email notifications each month about the latest book selection. Go here to see the entire book list for 2018.
Thanks as always to my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! Your monthly donations help keep this podcast and the EOLU interview series on the air. This week my thanks goes out to Suzanne O’Brien and Doulagivers.com for their ongoing support over the past year-and-a-half. If you’d like to join our team sign up at Patreon.com/eolu and receive special bonuses.
Today my guests Michelle Pante and Reena Lazar tell us how they started their company Willow and the services they provide to their clients. We talk about:
How the two of them decided to team up and create a vision together
How Reena uses her conflict resolution training in the work she does now helping people with end-of-life planning
Why they chose the name Willow for their company
What are “love letters” and “heart wills” and why they encourage people to create them
Tips for writing your own heart will
Details of the upcoming retreat in Mexico that includes a celebration of the Day of the Dead (you can still get the “early bird” discount of $200 off the price of the retreat if you sign up by August 20th and use the code EOLU)
In this episode I share some thoughts about how to get involved in the end-of-life movement if you have recently become interested in death and dying. You’ll hear about my best ideas for contributing to change in the way people die and offering your service to others.
Welcome to our new sponsor: Authentic Presence Training from the Spiritual Care Program. Authentic Presence brings together practical contemplative resources with the knowledge and skills of modern hospice and palliative care. Suitable for professionals from all faith traditions or none, the course draws its inspiration particularly from Buddhist contemplative practice, the acclaimed classic The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, the work of the Dalai Lama, as well as contemplative neuroscience. Learn more here.
Join me and my guest Suzanne O’Brien RN for a free webinar: “EOL Doula Training for Caregivers and Volunteers” on Tuesday July 24th at 5 pm Pacific/8 pm Eastern. Register here and you’ll receive the replay if you can’t attend live.
Learn about these opportunities to be of service to the dying in many different capacities:
Work as a professional in hospice or palliative care (call your local hospice/palliative care program to see if you have the credentials needed and to learn about any training offered):
Become a volunteer – for those with no medical training:
Hospice volunteers are always needed (call your local hospice for more information)
Pet Therapy for Hospice Patients – if you have a special pet and would like to receive training to provide visits to patients. Learn more in this interview.
Seek out other opportunities in your community like Meals on Wheels, hospital or nursing home volunteer programs, church-related visitation programs
Become an End-of-Life Doula – check out the training mentioned above with Suzanne O’Brien and find out if this work is a good fit for you. Learn more here.
Start a caregiver training program – the need for in-home caregivers is going to increase dramatically over the next decade. Consider becoming a caregiver trainer to help your community meet this need.
Teach a death education class – there is currently a great need for education about death and dying in our society. Consider teaching your own class or workshop to provide information to others in your community. Get the Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class here.
Create a Community Event to inspire people to learn more about the end of life:
Learn about Stephen’s teachings on death phobia in our society and how palliative care and the medical system fail to address this problem.
In this episode I share an excerpt from an interview with Stephen Jenkinson, author of the book Die Wise, founder of Orphan Wisdom and subject of the documentary Griefwalker. Stephen discusses some of the problems with our approach to death in modern society, including the medical system.
Thank you to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Bernadette Koch. I appreciate your willingness to contribute to this podcast and the End-of-Life University Series to keep them on the air. If you’d like to join the team, support this work, and get awesome bonuses at the same time, go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more and sign up!
On July 24th I’m hosting Suzanne O’Brien RN for a free webinar where she’ll be teaching “End-of-Life Doula Training for Caregivers and Volunteers.” If you’d like to know more about the work of end-of-life doulas and learn important skills for caring for the dying, this webinar will be valuable for you.
Click here to sign up for the webinar (it’s free and you’ll receive the replay if you can’t attend live.)
My guest Stephen Jenkinson is a palliative care consultant, teacher, author and ceremonialist who is “revolutionizing grief and dying in North America.” As the author of Die Wise he teaches that “Dying well is a right and responsibility of everyone.”
Dying well is a right and responsibility of everyone. – Stephen Jenkinson
In this interview we discuss:
The origin of death phobia in our society
How the fear of non-existence is the greatest fear of most people
Why “lost” and “loss” are not helpful terms to use when discussing death
The danger of the “fighting illness” mentality of modern medicine
Why dying and grief are things that we “do” rather than events that “happen to us”
Why palliative care should be dying-centered rather than relief-centered
(This is an excerpt from the interview with Stephen. The full interview can be found at Patreon.com/eolu as a bonus for Platinum level supporters ($5 per month.))
Tune in every Monday for a new episode and if you like this content please share it with others or consider leaving a review on iTunes.
Learn about a humorous one-woman play that inspires audiences to discuss their fears about dying and death.
In this episode I share an interview from the archives with actress Judith Gantly who presents a one-woman play titled “Waltzing the Reaper.” We discuss the benefits of compelling theatre for inspiring an audience to talk about end-of-life issues.
Learn more about Judith’s work and “Waltzing the Reaper”here.
On July 24th I’ll be hosting a free webinar with Suzanne O’Brien RN on End-of-Life Doula Training for Caregivers and Volunteers. She will share the Level I training she offers to community members who want to learn how to care for their families and neighbors at the end of life. There will be a Q&A session with Suzanne following the webinar and you will receive the replay if you can’t attend live. Stay tuned for registration information!
Thank you to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Nancy Walker! Your generosity is greatly appreciated. If you’d like to join the team of patrons who are chipping in each month to keep End-of-Life University on the air go to Patreon.com/eolu to sign up and learn about the bonuses you’ll receive as a supporter.
Judith Gantly presents the one-woman play “Waltzing the Reaper” for hospices, medical schools, and communities all around the country. She is available to travel to your event if you would like to incorporate theatre as a way to inspire your community to engage in conversations about dying and death.
You will learn:
The story portrayed in Waltzing the Reaper
Why theatre is a powerful tool for inspiration
How the hearts and minds of the audience members are opened during a live performance on stage
Why the content of this play stimulates discussion
How audiences come together through the shared experience of viewing a play
How to contact Judith about bringing Waltzing the Reaper to your community
Learn about the life of Cicely Saunders and what we can discover from her quest to change the way that people died.
In this episode, recorded just after the celebration of what would have been Cicely Saunder’s 100th birthday, I talk about how she became interested in caring for the dying, what inspired her to create St. Christopher’s Hospice, and what we can learn from her determination to improve care at the end of life.
Read more about the life and work of Dame Cicely Saunders at:
If you’d like to join A Year of Reading Dangerously, our online reading group for 2018, there’s still time! Check out the reading list here and start reading along with 1,000 other people around the globe!
Cicely Saunders first began working with dying patients when she was training to be a nurse in the early 1940’s in London. She went on to become an Almoner (medical social worker) and a volunteer nurse at a hospice for the dying poor where she recognized the great need for better pain management and comfort care at the end of life.
When she was told that the medical system would not be interested in her ideas because she wasn’t a physician she accepted the challenge and went to medical school. One revolutionary contribution to end-of-life care was her concept of “Total Pain,” which included emotional and spiritual pain as well as physical.
As a doctor Cicely received a research grant where she studied pain management and wrote many articles. She took “before and after” photos of each patient so that she could show the transformation that occurred when pain was alleviated. Eventually her dream of creating a hospital dedicated to care of the dying was fulfilled when St. Christopher’s Hospice opened 10 years later.
From her story we can take much inspiration for today’s ongoing struggle to improve care at the end of life:
Follow your heart – Cicely stayed true to her heart and passion throughout her career as she dedicated herself to care of the dying, even when others discouraged her.
Be willing to change course to achieve your dream – Cicely was unable to pursue her original dream of being a nurse after a back injury and shifted to medical social work as a way of continuing her work with dying patients.
Be persistent – Cicely’s determination to do whatever it took to bring her dream to fruition led her to become a doctor.
Patience is essential – Cicely had to wait for many years to see her dream of a hospice become a reality: first while she studied to be a doctor, then did several years of research, and finally raised the funds to build St. Christopher’s. Change rarely happens overnight so stay the course!
Be credible before you can be incredible – Cicely demonstrated this throughout her career as she diligently worked through her own education and her research to gain credibility in the eyes of the medical system she was trying to change
The importance of teamwork – Cicely found likeminded individuals in her community and in the U.S. to sustain her inspiration and her enthusiasm for her goal. We can accomplish more as a team than as individuals.
Flexible models are necessary for optimum care – Cicely resisted standardizing her model of hospice care and instead chose to help others create their own unique solutions for the needs of their communities.
Have a big vision but humble expectations – Cicely sought to change care of the dying across the world with her vision of hospice but was content to make a difference to just one patient at at time.
“If one man from a poor village in India dies without pain because of what I have done, it will all have been worthwhile.” – Dame Cicely Saunders
Today we would be advised to remember her Total Pain concept as we struggle to deal with an opioid crisis in the U.S. Neglecting the contribution of emotional and spiritual pain to physical pain has led to over-reliance on drugs as the answer to suffering.
Happy Birthday Dame Cicely Saunders!
Thank you for inspiring us to carry on your big vision of helping every person find comfort, peace and love at the end of life.
Tune in every Monday for a new episode! If you enjoy this content please share with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Until next week:
Learn about a beautiful documentary film that you can include in a community workshop on home funerals and green burial.
In this episode I share a “legacy interview” with two of the directors of the documentary film “A Will for the Woods” – Amy Browne and Brian Wilson. This is one of my favorite films and I encourage you to consider bringing it to your community for a screening and discussion about home funerals and green burial.
Sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously online reading group for 2018 here.
This episode is sponsored by my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu. Thank you today to Holly Randall for increasing your monthly pledge! I appreciate all of the donors who have been chipping in over the past year-and-a-half to keep this podcast on the air! You can join the team for as little as $1 per month at Patreon.com/eolu.
Filmmakers Amy Browne and Brian Wilson discuss their award-winning film, A Will for the Woods, the story of a man near the end of his life who prepares for his own green burial. This film has been named “One of the 9 documentaries you must see this year” by the TED blog and has won numerous awards at film festivals around the country. In this interview you will learn:
what inspired 4 young filmmakers to spend 4 years filming this end-of-life journey
what the movie teaches us about death and burial customs
how this film can change the funeral industry
how to plan your own green burial and create a “green will”
Co-Director/Producer, Amy Browne, grew up in Australia and moved to New York City to study theater at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and film at The New School University. Her film credits include Associate Producer for Crazy & Thief (LA Film Festival 2012) and I Used to be Darker (Sundance 2013), as well as work on The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (Berlinale & Tribeca 2011). She also recently commenced work as the Producer on upcoming documentary As Worlds Divide. When her sister Sophie introduced her to the concept of green burial, which connects the profundity and beauty of nature with the cycle of death and life, Amy was inspired to further explore the idea through film.
Co-director/Editor, Brian Wilson, graduated from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature and History, and works as an editor in New York. Passionate about the natural world and its protection and restoration, he is pleased to be exploring and raising awareness about green burial with A Will for the Woods. He became interested in developing deeper insight into death after his mother died in 2008, and has been grateful to find it through working on this project, which he hopes will offer similar comfort and understanding to many viewers.
Learn about the obstacles facing the end-of-life movement as we try to improve our approach to death and dying in society.
In Part 2 of this discussion I’ll look at the major “threats” to the advancement of improved care for the dying and dead in our society and how we might overcome them. Be sure to listen to Part 1 and download the original article below if you want to know more.
Learn what the history of natural childbirth in the U. S. has in common with the changes we are seeking in end-of-life care and how we can benefit from that knowledge as we move forward.
In this episode I share information from an article I researched and wrote about the natural childbirth movement in the U.S., how it developed over decades and ultimately succeeded with the help of the Baby Boom Generation. I’ll show how our current end-of-life movement is following a similar path and what we need to learn from the past. Download the special report below:
You can still join the online reading group: A Year of Reading Dangerously and read one book each month in 2018 about death, dying and the afterlife. In May we read the book Sacred Dying * by Megory Anderson and for the month of June we’re reading Choosing to Die * by Phyllis Shacter. Go to http://eoluniversity.com/yearofreading to learn more.
(* NOTE: These are affiliate links to Amazon – if you choose to purchase the books from these pages I will receive a small commission which will help support this podcast but cost nothing extra for you.)
This episode is sponsored by the album Healing Chants by Gia! Check out this gorgeous collection of chants to help you relax, breathe deep, let go, and heal. Stay tuned to the end of the episode to hear the chant: You and I Are One.
A “perfect storm” led to the breakthrough of natural childbirth into mainstream U.S. medicine and society back in the 1970’s as the Baby Boom generation began demanding better alternatives. There is a similar “perfect storm” brewing right now around end-of-life care as Baby Boomers are aging and facing their own later years.
According to the book Family Centered Maternity by Celeste R. Phillips there were 3 key factors that contributed to the rise in popularity of natural childbirth. These same factors are present now in the end-of-life movement:
Medical Pioneers who served as advocates within the medical profession and began demanding change from their colleagues.
Grassroots Movements in communities that educated and empowered consumers to push for improved and alternative methods of care.
Media Attention that spotlighted the cause and galvanized the public to get involved while also normalizing the conversation.
But change doesn’t happen overnight and those seeking change in how our society deals with death and dying need to remember these 3 lessons about change:
Change in society is ultimately driven by economic factors
Change requires a united effort
Change requires a critical mass
Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this discussion which will cover the potential deterrents to the change we are seeking and the takeaway lessons that should be learned from studying the history of natural childbirth.
Thanks to all the supporters of this podcast on Patreon.com/eolu! Sign up to make a contribution of just $1 per month and receive special bonuses for patrons only!
Learn how to provide appropriate and sensitive care to a veteran who is nearing the end of life.
Today’s “mini-episode” airs on Memorial Day in the U.S. – a day when we honor those who have given their lives in military service to our country. I share a few thoughts about how to give the best care possible to those who have served as they reach the end of their lives.
Check out A Year of Reading Dangerously online reading group if you’d like to read books about death, dying and the afterlife and join our online discussions. The group will be going on all year long in 2018! Click hereto read more and see the book list.
THANK YOU to all of my generous patrons who support the podcast and End-of-Life University Interview Series with small monthly donations at Patreon.com/eolu! Your support means everything to me! Visit the Patreon.com/eolu page if you’d like to become a supporter and receive special bonuses!
On this Memorial Day we honor all those who died serving our country as members of the military. Today I am honoring all veterans for their sacrifices and service as we discuss how to give them the best possible end-of-life care.
The Veterans Administration estimates that 11-30% of all veterans experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of trauma during their military service. PTSD symptoms can be triggered when a veteran faces the challenges of aging and death, even in those who have not experienced PTSD flare-ups for many years.
The symptoms of PTSD to be aware of if you are caring for a veteran include:
Flashbacks and vivid recollections of the traumatic event
Sensitivity to certain sounds or sights
Avoidance of situations that trigger memories
If you are caring for a veteran, whether you are a professional or family caregiver, it is important to understand the needs of your patient so you can offer appropriate care. Here are some tips:
Recognize that the veteran may be reluctant to complain of pain or distress because military training emphasizes stoicism and bravery. Talking about pain or fear may seem to be a sign of weakness to the veteran.
Watch for signs of uncontrolled pain (grimacing, muscle tension, elevated heart rate or blood pressure) even if the veteran denies discomfort.
Normalize the experience of pain by emphasizing that other patients with the same diagnosis often have pain and receive treatment for it.
Create a safe emotional space where the veteran’s wishes can be heard and respected without judgment.
Ask open-ended questions and show a willingness to listen, even to difficult stories, but don’t push the veteran to talk if he or she is reluctant.
Avoid startling the patient with an unexpected touch – always ask permission before reaching for a hand.
Acknowledge that you cannot possibly know what the veteran has experienced unless you yourself have been in military service. Show your gratitude for the sacrifices made.
Remember that the veteran may be carrying a burden of unresolved grief and guilt over the traumatic events of the past but may be concerned that no one else can tolerate listening to the stories that need to be told. Offer reassurance that you have heard many stories in the past and are trained to listen.
Enlist the help of a chaplain if the veteran is seeking forgiveness and interested in receiving pastoral care.
Consider bringing in a Veteran Volunteer if the patient is willing and one is available. A fellow vet will have an easier time establishing rapport and connecting with the patient. Check out The Twilight Brigade, which provides volunteers nationwide to be at the bedside of dying Veterans and “is one of the largest end-of-life care communities operating as an independent agency within VA hospitals and hospice care facilities across America.”
Heartfelt thanks to all veterans who have served to protect our freedom and safety! May your road be smooth and burdens light as you journey on at the end of life!
Remember there will be a new episode every Monday so be sure to tune in again. If you enjoy this content please consider leaving a review on iTunes and sharing the podcast with others.
Learn how a skeptical psychologist began receiving messages through channeled writing from his son after his tragic death.
In this episode I share an interview with psychologist Matt McKay PhD who tells how he began receiving messages after his son’s death that taught him about spirituality here in this life and in the afterlife. Matt shares his suggestions for communicating with those “on the other side.”
You can get it hereon Amazon in print, ebook and audiobook formats!
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In this presentation clinical psychologist Dr. Matthew McKay will share the story of his son Jordan and how he sought to connect with Jordan after his death. He will teach us how to communicate with our own loved ones who have died.
Dr. McKay offers these suggestions for starting your own practice of channeled writing:
Get grounded and centered
Have a physical object that connects you to your loved one
Use a candle or other visible object to focus your gaze
Become more receptive bu using mindfulness, self-hypnosis, breathing techniques
Have a special notebook handy
Write down a question for the loved one you would like to communicate with
Wait for words to form in your mind and immediately write down anything that arises, without judging or questioning it
Acknowledge your doubt but don’t be paralyzed by it
Remember there will be a new episode every Monday! If you enjoy this content please consider leaving a review on iTunes and sharing it with others.
Learn how mothers and daughters cope with their changing roles as the end of life nears.
In this episode I share an interview with Kate Riley, author and death midwife, about our own relationships with our mothers and how they changed as we provided care to them at the end of life. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there listening!
Thank you to my latest sponsor on Patreon.com/eolu: Marilyn Stoner. Thank you for support and thanks to all of my patrons – I appreciate your generosity very much!!
This episode is brought to you by my course Get Over it For Good: Healing the Hidden Wounds of Childhood. Learn to get over events from the past that keep you stuck and unable to grow. This is a self-study course that helps you identify your hidden wounds and discover the wisdom you can gain from them. Platinum supporters on Patreon.com/eoluwill receive a 30% discount on the course! Learn more about the course here.
My guest Kate Riley and I discuss the joys and challenges of daughters who care for their mothers at the end of life. Kate was the caregiver for her mother during the last 9 months of her life and shares her insights about that process.
In this interview you will learn:
The ups and downs of the caregiver journey
The benefits of presence at the end of life
How meditation helps with preparation for death
Death has its own mysterious timing
The pain of letting go of our mothers and being let go of by them
How caregiving helps us heal our relationships
Advice for daughters caring for their mothers
Kate Riley is a certified death midwife, minister, international story consultant, author and educator. She began private practice in compassionate end-of-life care after completing hospice training in the late 1980s. She serves as a liaison for individuals facing end-of-life decisions, working with their families and medical teams in providing a more person-centered approach. She encourages and supports those who want to take a conscious, active role in their own dying process. She is the author of The Green Velvet Journals and Launching Vee’s Chariot: An End-of-Life Tale. Kate lives in the Wood River Valley of Idaho—a great place to find balance in all of life’s stages. Her advanced training includes death midwife/doula certification through Final Passages and current enrollment in the California State University Palliative Care Chaplaincy program.
Remember to tune in every Monday for a new episode! If you enjoy this content please consider leaving a review on iTunes. Until next week:
Learn how to create a pilgrimage to help you process the grief that follows the trauma of war.
In this episode I share my own story of traveling to Normandy to retrace my father’s footsteps during World War II. This was part of a grief pilgrimage I took to help me understand the factors that led to my father’s suicide many years later.
You can still sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously and join our online reading group for 2018. Read more about it here.
This episode is sponsored by my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu who contribute a little each month to keep this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air! Thank you to my latest patron: Martha Johnson! I appreciate your support more than you can ever know. To become a patron go to Patreon.com/eolu and receive some special bonuses.
One year ago I featured a special 8-part series titled Suicide: Surviving the Aftermath about my own journey of healing following my father’s suicide death. This week is the anniversary of his death and I’m focusing in today on part of my journey.
In order to learn more about the impact of World War II on Dad’s emotional health I took a grief pilgrimage to Normandy to explore the location of some of his traumatic experiences. That trip was a powerful experience that helped me understand Dad better and grasp the burden of grief and guilt that he had carried with him since the war.
Here are my tips for anyone who wants to plan a similar pilgrimage (listen to the episode for more of the details and to hear how my own journey unfolded):
Do your homework before you go: Learn all you can about your loved one’s wartime travels so you can choose the places you’ll visit carefully. Check the National Archives for information and military records for your loved one.
Visit a museum: You’ll learn a lot of history in a short time by starting your journey at a war memorial museum. You’ll find some of the recommended World War II museums in Europe listed here.
Enlist a guide: A local guide with a solid knowledge of history and the area can save you time and show you places you wouldn’t have discovered on your own. Find a guide that speaks your language fluently and is willing to go to the places on your list.
Meet a local: One of the benefits of traveling to the location of the war is the opportunity to meet people who personally experienced the war and its aftermath (or their offspring.) Local citizens will have stories to share that will help broaden your perspective.
Take your time: The emotions that arise on grief pilgrimage are intense so allow time for reflection and processing. Don’t rush through the sites but stop and take it all in. Let your feelings rise to the surface so that they can be witnessed.
Participate in a ritual: Rituals provide a powerful opportunity for healing during grief travel experiences so plan ahead to create your own special ceremony. Or you may have a chance to take part in a scheduled ceremony with other travelers as I did when I visited the Normandy American Cemetery.
Learn more about how travel helped my grief by listening here.
Learn how answering just one question can simplify your decision-making process for end-of-life planning.
In this episode I’ll share how one simple question helped clarify my Mom’s end-of-life wishes and why I recommend starting there to put your own advance care planning into the proper perspective. This episode is sponsored by my course “Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning.“
You can still join my online reading group for 2018 “A Year of Reading Dangerously” and read a book each month on death, dying and the afterlife. Sign up here.
Thank you to all of my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! Your donations mean a lot to me!
Putting our wishes for the end of life into writing is more complicated than it seems. We can easily get lost when we start to consider all of the options available and make decisions about what we do or do not want for care during out last days.
When my mother was trying to complete her living we finally found a simple way to clarify what really mattered to her. I asked her to tell me how she wanted it to be when she was taking her last breaths in this life. And she answered right away: “I want to be in my own home with you taking care of me.”
That one question changed everything for us and her answer guided all of the decisions that we made together as a family for the next five years before her death. I have spent time thinking about the one question myself and it is clear to me that the only thing that will really matter to me when I am ready to die is love. I will want to be as near as possible to the people I love.
You can use this one question too:
Imagine your last moments of life: how do you want it to be?
Describe what you see in positive terms first: Who is with you? Where are you?
Keep it simple to avoid being overwhelmed. Just a few details are all you need to describe.
Finally add your 2-3 absolute DO-NOT’s to the picture. What do you definitely NOT want to have happen during your last moments? Again – limit the number to those things you feel strongest about. Your family will remember 2-3 requests but not 10-12.
Start talking now about your positive vision for your final moments and let your family know what you envision. When you engage them in your vision they are more likely to help you create it. They will have had time to think about your vision and to imagine themselves being part of it.
No matter what start thinking about the end of life now. It’s never too soon to get your plans in order! Consider signing up for the Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning if you’d like to have a doctor by your side as you make decisions for yourself!