Learn how our beliefs can become an obstacle to healing and growth during times of trauma and grief.
My guest Terri Daniel is an interfaith clinical chaplain, certified trauma specialist, end-of-life educator, and the founder of the Afterlife Awareness Conference. She recently published a new book titled Grief and God, which explores the ways in which religion and “toxic theology” can interfere with the healing process after a profound loss. She’ll share some key takeaways and stories from her extensive research on this important subject. Learn more at Terri’s website:
Join the team at Patreon.com/eoluand get access to the EOLU mug: “Mind if we talk about death?” (only Patrons can purchase it)
If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on Patreon.com/eolu, especially my new patron, Susan Glogovac–your contribution means everything to me!
Listen to a personal and intimate conversation about suicide death and how to cope with the aftermath as a survivor.
My guest Sarah Neustadter PhD was studying psychology in graduate school when her boyfriend, a fellow student in the program, chose to end his life. Ten years later she has written a book to guide others through the complicated grief that follows suicide. In this conversation we share our own stories of grief and find insights together that we hope will be helpful to others on this path. Learn more about Sarah’s work at her website:
Learn about “post-traumatic growth” and how it is possible to thrive after experiencing loss and grief.
My guest Sherry Cormier is a licensed psychologist and certified bereavement trauma specialist. She will share with us her personal encounters with loss and grief and how over the years she has managed to grow through her pain. We will also learn about her latest book Sweet Sorrow: Finding Enduring Wholeness After Loss and Grief. Learn more about her work at her website:
Learn some ways to navigate the holidays if you find yourself short of joy and overwhelmed with darkness this year.
The holidays are not always joyful, particularly when we are dealing with grief or loss. Watching others celebrate can be painful if we are feeling lost and alone in our suffering. Here are some suggestions for coping with dark times and finding the way to joy.
This episode includes:
Why times of darkness are essential for life and growth
How major holidays near the winter solstice include light as part of the celebration
Why we need to embrace the darkness rather than resist it
How to bring in the light
How to redefine joy as joie de vivre (the joy of being alive)
Discovering that joy is already within you
Why stillness is essential to cultivate joy
Overcoming the obstacles to joy
The importance of giving to others even when you are going through difficult times
Dark times provide an incubator for the soul to grow in creativity, love and joy.
Learn how to navigate grief during the dying process and after the death of a beloved animal companion.
Wendy Van de Poll has felt a connection with animals since a very young age and then learned about the grief associated with the death of a pet after her own dog Marley died of cancer. She serves as an End-of-Life and Pet Grief Support Coach to help provide a safe place for people to grieve the loss of their animal companions. She shares her tips for surviving grief and also ideas for creating an end-of-life plan for our pets.
(This interview previously aired on the End-of-Life University Interview Series.)
Whether you live with an animal companion yourself or you know someone who loves a pet dearly, you need to be prepared for the day when that animal reaches the end of life. Wendy Van de Poll helps people prepare in advance for pet loss and also helps them deal with the grief that follows the death of a beloved animal friend.
The impact of the loss of a pet can be more significant than the loss of a human companion.
In this interview you will learn:
Why it’s important to create an end-of-life plan for pets
What to include in a pet’s end-of-life plan
How to make the dying process easier for a pet
Common myths surrounding grief after the death of a pet
Advice for those experiencing pet loss grief
How to support a loved one dealing with grief over the death of a pet
Suggestions for helping a child cope with pet loss grief
Wendy Van de Poll is dedicated to providing a safe place for her clients to express their grief over the loss of their pets.
Her passion is to help people when they are grieving over the loss of a pet and her larger than life love for animals has led her to devote her life to the mission of increasing the quality of life between animals and people no matter what stage they are in their cycle of life! She has been called the animal whisperer.
She is a Certified End of Life and Pet Grief Support Coach, Certified Pet Funeral Celebrant, Animal Medium and Communicator. She is the founder of The Center for Pet Loss Grief and an international best selling and award-winning author and speaker.
She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Wolf Ecology and Behavior and has run with wild wolves in Minnesota, coyotes in Massachusetts and foxes in her backyard. She lives in the woods with her husband, two crazy birds, her rescue dog Addie and all kinds of wildlife.
Learn about the impact of grief on the body and the emotions and steps you can take to heal your grief when you are ready.
In this episode I share an interview with filmmaker and grief counselor Michelle Peticolas who talks about the 3-part film series she created, which is available for use in your community. She also shares her tips on healing from grief and thriving after loss.
A HUGE THANK YOU to my latest contributors on Patreon.com/eolu: Christina Ensminger and Jackie Yeager! I appreciate your generosity and your support so much. If you’d like to join our team go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn how to sign up for as little as $1 per month and receive special bonuses just for patrons!
If you missed last week’s webinar with Suzanne O’Brien on “End-of-Life Doula Training for Caregivers and Volunteers” you can still listen to the replay. Go to www.eoluniversity.com/obrien to register and you’ll receive the link to listen in. It was fantastic and I’m sure you will enjoy it!
Michelle Peticolas begins the interview by telling us about her series of 3 films, The Secrets of Life and Death, which deal with facing death, being present with the dying, and grief. These films are now available for public showing and you can go to her website to learn more: www.secretsoflifeanddeath.com
Next we talk about grief and cover the following topics:
People in our culture struggle with grief because we have been taught to avoid it
Grief triggers both an emotional and a physical response and illness can result from grief that is not addressed
The brain needs time to rewire its circuits after the death of a loved one
The medical system usually offers drugs for grief symptoms, which don’t help grief actually heal
Grief support groups may contribute to ongoing trauma for grievers by stimulating the release of stress hormones over and over again as stories are told and retold
Michelle’s 3 tips for thriving after loss:
Allow the feelings to arise and learn how to listen to the body
Savor support and reach out for connection with others; allow your loved one to love you through others
Shift perception of loss and recognize that love and joy are still present even though the person you’ve loved is not physically present
Tune in next week for another new episode. If you enjoy this content please share with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
Learn about some helpful resources for talking to children about death and funerals.
In this episode I’ll share some tips from a recent panel discussion I watched about Youth and Funerals. It’s important to teach adults how to talk to children about death and how to invite them to participate in mourning rituals when a loved one dies.
Get the eBook from Funeral Services Foundationhere.
Watch the video:
On July 24th I’ll be hosting Suzanne O’Brien RN for a free webinar titled: “End-of-Life Doula Training for Caregivers and Volunteers.” Join us if you’re interested in learning more about the work of end-of-life doulas to see if further training might be of interest to you. You’ll learn valuable skills for caring for those at the end of life no matter what type of work you do. Sign up at the link below:
Thank you to my new supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Joshua Zoppi! I’m grateful to you and all the other patrons who are helping to keep this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series on the air! If you’d like to join the team (and get special bonuses) go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more and sign up (for as little as $1 per month!)
There’s no denying the importance of teaching children about death and dying from a young age to help them have a healthy attitude toward a normal part of life. Part of that teaching includes involving them in funerals for loved ones and providing appropriate support and information during the process.
In this episode I’ll talk about:
My own story of attending a funeral without understanding anything about death or knowing what to expect at a funeral
How I taught my children about death and funerals
The panel discussion from the Nation Funeral Directors’ Association Leadership Conference that inspired me to talk about this subject (speakers I watched and quote from include Joe Primo of Good Grief, Vicky Jay of National Alliance for Grieving Children, and Brad Speaks from Speaks Family Legacy Chapel)
Why children should be taught about funerals and allowed to participate
Why we need to teach parents how to include their children in funerals and support them in the process
Ways to involve children in funerals:
Create a music playlist for the funeral
Help make a poster board of photos of the loved one
Draw pictures of the loved one
Tell a story or sing a song for the funeral
Be a pallbearer or escort
Place flowers on the casket or urn or in the grave
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!
THANK YOU to all of my current patrons on Patreon.com/eolu! Your support means everything to me! If you’d like to join in and help support this podcast for as little as $1 per month go to Patreon.com/eolu and check it out!
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 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 about the impact of unspoken grief on a young child after the death of a parent and why we need to do a better job addressing grief with children.
In this episode I share an interview with Rachel Stephenson, an author, speaker and educator, who shares the story of her mother’s sudden death when she was 5 years old and the lasting impact it has had on her and the lives of her family. Rachel’s TEDx Talk on the same subject has attracted a lot of attention and points out why we need to address grief and loss with children.
Watch Rachel’s TEDx Talk:
Sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously reading group here and join us to read books about death, dying and the afterlife all year long!
Tune in to the 4-part webinar series Demystifying Palliative Carehere and learn all about the palliative care team members and their roles.
This episode is being sponsored by Gia’s Healing Chants Album – you’ll hear a selection at the very end of this episode. Click hereto learn more and purchase the album.
My guest is Rachel Stephenson, whose blog “Dear Dead Mother” and recent TEDx Talk have captured a great deal of attention online. We explore the process of grief, particularly for a young child who loses a parent, and how childhood grief differs from that experienced by adults. Rachel is passionate about opening the conversation about grief and loss.
In this interview you will learn:
the dangers of grieving in silence as perceived by Rachel
the experience of suddenly losing a parent through the eyes of a young child
what needs to change in our societal conversation about death
how to talk to a child about a death in the family
Rachel Stephenson is a writer, speaker, educator, and university administrator who is living fully with grief. She is currently the University Director of the CUNY Service Corps at The City University of New York, and her professional experience includes designing and implementing innovative experiential education programs in civic engagement, workforce development, and youth development; writing interactive curricula; facilitating/emceeing professional development workshops and special events; fundraising; and more at a range of educational institutions and non-profit organizations in New York City. She is married with three daughters. Though Rachel has not spent her career in the world of grief and bereavement, she has spent her life thinking about her own grief – her mother died suddenly when Rachel was five – and knowing that she would one day revisit her own story to connect with others about navigating loss.
Learn how grief over the death of loved one is compounded by other losses that occur simultaneously.
In this episode I share a conversation with Rev. Terri Daniel about the “other grief” that occurs throughout life with or without the death of a loved one. We’ll talk about this hidden grief and why it is important to acknowledge it as an important part of life.
It’s not too late to sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously and join us in reading books about death, dying and the afterlife throughout 2018! Learn more and sign up here.
Thank you to all of the donors who are contributing to my page at Patreon.com/eolu each month! It makes a huge difference and I’m very grateful! Thank you to Suzanne O’Brien RN and Doulagivers.com for being a “legacy supporter” for the past 18 months!
In this interview Rev. Terri Daniel and I talk about the big picture of grief throughout life’s transitions and how it often goes unnoticed as we focus primarily on grief after a death occurs. We talk about:
Continuing Bonds Theory
“Other” types of loss
Four additional types of grief
The need for ritual and ceremony to process grief
Are there avoidable vs. unavoidable losses?
Rev. Terri Daniel is a clinical chaplain and end-of-life educator certified in death, dying and bereavement by the Association of Death Education and Counseling. Her work focuses on assisting dying and grieving individuals to discover a more spiritually-spacious understanding of loss and trauma.
Remember to tune in every Monday for a new episode and please leave a review on iTunes if you enjoy this content!
Learn from this Emmy-award winning composer how music is a form of “energy medicine” that can transform grief and the end-of-life experience.
In this episode I share an interview with Gary Malkin, composer of the music for “Graceful Passages,” a CD used in hospices around the world to comfort the dying. Gary will discuss how music has the potential to heal on a physical, emotional and spiritual level and why healthcare should include the arts in the future.
You can still sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously and join our online reading group. For the month of January 2018 we are reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Sign up below to receive email notifications each month and to join our stimulating conversation on Facebook and by live conference call.
As always, support for this podcast comes from my donation page at Patreon.com/eolu. Thank you to all of my current donors who are helping to keep this show and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air. Special thanks this week goes to Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs for increasing her pledge to the Platinum level! If you’d like to contribute (as little as $1 per month) go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more.
This week I welcome Emmy winning composer Gary Malkin to talk about his CD for end-of-life transitions: Graceful Passages.
Key takeaways from this interview include:
How Gary composed the music for Graceful Passages and where the inspiration came from
How music can be used as a tool that calls people to be fully present and can be very helpful in end-of-life scenarios
Why music is helpful in times of grief
Why we should look for music that is “life-enhancing” or “positive intention” to have a soothing effect and create a response of relaxation
Science is documenting that music and other art forms can increase heart coherence, cause the release of oxytocin (the “love hormone”) and enhance immune function
Why periods of silence are important and how deep breathing and soft toning can help bridge the fear of silence
Thanks for tuning in! You’ll find a new episode every Monday so be sure to come back. Leave a review on iTunes if you enjoy this kind of content!
Learn about my Top-10 picks for people, events and trends that have changed the end-of-life movement in 2017.
In this final episode of 2017 I take a look back at the previous year and share my thoughts on some of the events and people that I believe will have a big impact on how our society deals with the end of life.
You can support this podcast by making a small donation of $1 or $2 at Patreon.com/eolu.
Here are my picks for the 2017 Game Changers in the Death-Positive Movement:
The documentary film “Extremis” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. The film was also picked up by Netflix in 2016. It is a powerful depiction of end-of-life care in the ICU staffed by Dr. Jessica Zitter, which should serve as a wake-up call to people about the need to do end-of-life planning before a healthcare crisis occurs.
Dr. Jessica Zitter’s book Extreme Measures was also released this year. In addition she wrote an article for the N.Y. Times (“First Sex Ed Then Death Ed”) calling for death education classes for all high school students. This novel idea has the potential to change our society’s perception of death and dying by introducing the subject to young people. Dr. Zitter is truly a game changer!
In March and May of 2017 the organization The Dinner Party (a movement to provide community for millennials dealing with loss) convened meetings with business leaders from some prominent US corporations to discuss loss and the workplace. They emphasized the importance of developing workplace policies and protocols for managing bereaved employees and offering them assistance. These conversations are just the first step in changing how grief is recognized and supported in the workplace rather than being ignored.
In April 2017 the 1st International Death Doula Training was held in Maui for the purpose of teaching people from around the globe to serve others as death doulas. This event was a game changer because it validated the death doula movement, increased the number of qualified doulas who can serve their communities, and provided a networking platform for death workers, which helped strengthen and expand the movement. The 2nd International training will take place in 2018!
Also in Apri the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit was held to address the epidemic of opioid addiction in this country. Measures have been taken to limit the number of pain pills that can be prescribed and dispensed at one time. This is an important and game-changing step to deal with the overwhelming public crisis of opioid deaths but caution is necessary. We must be vigilant to ensure that all hospice and palliative care patients have access to the medications they need for pain and symptom management.
On June 27, 2017 Jon Underwood, founder of Death Cafe, died suddenly and unexpectedly at a young age. Jon has been a game changer from the beginning by creating the Death Cafe platform for conversations about death that has spread around the world. But the tragedy of his death is also a potential game changer because of the powerful legacy Jon leaves behind and because of the potential for tragedy to inspire growth, creativity and healing. The entire death-positive movement is indebted to Jon for his inspiring and gentle leadership and may his death be a catalyst for transformation.
In July a new smart phone app named WeCroak was introduced. This app is a game changer because it helps people to think about death in a positive manner by sending reminders (“You will die one day”) and quotes on their phones 5 times a day. Technology has the potential to revolutionize our approach to death and dying and this simple $.99 app is just one small step toward the change that is needed.
The film Coco was released in the US by Disney and Pixar in November. Coco tells the story of a 12-year old boy who is transported to the land of the dead on Dia de los Muertos. There he receives help from his departed great-great grandfather to return to his family in the land of the living. The film depicts joyful skeletons who dance and sing and it portrays a positive image of life after death. While it is a children’s movie Coco has a powerful message for adults and is likely to stimulate much conversation in families about death and departed ancestors. It is exciting to see Hollywood begin to address death in a positive manner and this film is a game changer that will hopefully lead to more such productions in the future.
In December the first EndWell Symposium, created by Dr. Shoshana Ungerleiderand her foundation, was held in San Francisco. This groundbreaking symposium brought together thought leaders from healthcare, design and technology to share ideas on how to improve end-of-life care. The synergy of this collaborative event will have a ripple effect across the country and should lead to innovation and creativity around death and dying in the months to come. Dr. Ungerleider is a game changer for her forward-thinking generosity and ingenuity!
Also in December the Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy in Prescott AZ held a class for students in grades 9-12 on “Death and the Meaning of Life.” School Director Charles Mentken taught the class, which provided a comprehensive look at death and dying from various cultural and religious perspectives. The elective class also introduced the students to options for hospice and palliative care, death doulas, home funerals, cremation, and traditional funeral and burial services. This may be the first “pilot project” course of the type Dr. Jessica Zitter called for in her NY Times article and it is definitely a game changer. The students in the course have reported that their attitudes and fears about death have been totally transformed, as well as their approach to life, as a result of what they learned in the class. (I’ll be featuring an interview with Charles Mentken and 3 of his students on the End-of-Life University Interview Series in early 2018. Sign up if you’re not already on the list!)
I hope your holiday celebrations have been filled with joy and light and that you feel ready to embark on a brand new year next week! There will be a new episode on New Year’s Day where I will share my “wish list” for 2018.
Learn how The Dinner Party movement helps millennials cope with grief and some tips for managing grief during the holidays.
In this episode I share an interview with Carla Fernandez and Lennon Flowers, co-founders of The Dinner Party, a movement that is helping grieving millennials find community. I also talk about some of their tips for grief over the holidays.
Check out my new blog series on Grief Travel and learn some tips for planning travel to help with grief. Go to eoluniversityblog.com to find the series and start planning your own grief travel experience.
Thank you so much to all of my Patrons who have made donations on Patreon.com/eolu this year! I am forever grateful for your support and encouragement. If you would like to help keep End-of-Life University on the air you can go to Patreon.com/eoluand pledge just $1 a month to receive bonuses like the monthly Q&A recording I call “Hospice Happy Hour.” You’ll also be able to listen to all of the replays from the recent Death Expo 2017.
My guests Carla Fernandez and Lennon Flowers are the co-founders of The Dinner Party, a movement to create community and meaningful conversation around the isolating experience of grief for those in their 20’s and 30’s. Younger adults often feel out of place in traditional grief support groups and Carla and Lennon will share how their own personal losses led them to start The Dinner Party, which has now grown across the U.S. and beyond.
In this interview you will learn:
The inspiration behind The Dinner Party
Why The Dinner Party reaches out to millennials
How participants benefit from attending
How to become a host for a Dinner Party
How Carla and Lennon are working to create supportive workplaces for the bereaved
What resources are available on The Dinner Party website for grief in the workplace and grief at holiday times
Wishing you and your loved ones much love, joy and light during this holiday season, no matter how you choose to celebrate. I’ll be enjoying Christmas with my family next week but there will still be a podcast episode so be sure to tune in.
Learn how travel can provide a “safe container” for healing grief and loss.
In this episode I’ll share my own insights into how the experience of travel can help with the process of grief. This is also the subject of the new book I’m writing (I did research for it on my recent trip to Italy) … I’ll share a brief overview here!
You can check out all of my Italy photos onInstagram!
Each month I host a “Virtual Death Cafe” with fascinating conversations about death, grief and the end of life. Anyone can join by telephone or online. You can learn more about it at www.eoluniversity.com/death-cafe.
This podcast is supported through the generous donations of my patrons on Patreon.com/eolu. I’m sending a HUGE THANK YOU to all of my current supporters – your support makes a big difference! Join the fun for just $1 or $2 per month and you’ll receive the “Patrons Only” Q&A recording each month (Hospice Happy Hour!) Go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more and sign up!
During several of my travel experiences in the past I have been dealing with grief and have found the process of travel to be helpful. On one trip to Italy, my husband and I learned of the death of our brother-in-law on the day we arrived in Venice. Unable to cancel the rest of our trip and return home immediately, which we wanted to do, we stumbled through the remainder of the vacation and managed to make peace with our pain.
Here are some of my “takeaways” about how travel can help with grief:
Permission to wander aimlessly. On our Venice trip we canceled all of our sightseeing plans and activities. We started each day with a totally clean slate and just wandered the streets and canals of the city all day long. By following our intuition and our broken hearts we were able to enter into our grief without distraction or attachment. Had we been at home with family we would have felt obligated to “do something” and “be somewhere” but because we were traveling we were free of all expectations.
Seeing the big picture. Because we were freed up from the details of our daily life at home, we found more space to explore grief from a “trans-personal” perspective, as something bigger than just our own individual lives. Experiencing grief in another country allowed us to:
Recognize that all people, everywhere, experience the death of loved ones. Our mortality and the grief it causes us is the interconnecting thread that binds us to all of humanity.
Go deep into history. By visiting ancient ruins we can see that all of humankind, throughout history has dealt with the pain of loss and struggled to make peace with death. Our experience of grief is just one part of a vast “whole” picture of human loss.
Surrendering to grief to find joy within. As travelers “stuck” in another country even though we wanted to be home, we had no choice but to surrender to the pain that engulfed us. When we allowed grief to find a home within (and even “became” a living embodiment of grief) we also discovered a startling capacity for simple joy over the beauty of being alive. I’ve written this before: suffering hollows us out so that we can contain an even greater measure of joy … and also love.
Understanding impermanence. Strolling through cemeteries, relics and ruined structures of the past illustrated to me perfectly that everything that exists in the physical realm is impermanent and will one day dissolve away. Only love and the energy of life persist eternally. And it is the depth of the love we experience for others that causes the magnitude of pain we feel upon their deaths. Grief is one of the visible manifestations of love in the physical realm.
Learning how to navigate in unfamiliar territory. On our “grief trip” in Venice we simply wandered every day until we were hopelessly lost. We took in everything around us along the way–noticing all the colors and sounds and fragrances of life. And when we felt ready to return “home” we studied our maps to figure out where we were and to slowly find our way back to more familiar territory. This skill of navigating in the unknown will prove to be very helpful to us throughout life and especially during our own dying process as we struggle to get back to a home we can’t remember.
I hope you will take the opportunity to travel some day, even when you are experiencing grief, to experience the profound benefits it can offer!
Tune in every Monday for a new episode of the podcast! If you enjoy this content, please share it with others and leave a review on iTunes! Until next week remember:
Learn how the practice of yoga can help heal acute and chronic grief.
In this episode I share an interview with yoga teacher Paul Denniston who has created a special workshop for healing grief using yoga and movement. He’ll share stories of his own journey through grief and how his workshop is helping others.
The Thanksgiving Holiday is approaching in the U.S. and I want to wish everyone a week of gratitude and generosity as we reflect on all that life has given us. My family will be celebrating with our Annual Thanksgiveaway: handing out care packages to the homeless. This is just a small gesture of kindness as a way of expressing our thankfulness for all of our blessings of the past year. I hope you too find a special way to share with others on this holiday!
I am especially grateful for all of my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! Your generosity helps me feel connected to my audience and lets me know that you like the content I am creating. If you would like to become a patron you can sign up to contribute just $1 or $2 per month at Patreon.com/eolu.
Barbara McAfee has generously offered to share the following music video with all of us! She wrote the song Living Dying Man for her friend Jamie Showkeir as he faced the end of his life from ALS. Learn more at Barbara’s website: http://barbaramcafee.com
I hope you enjoy listening! Thank you Barbara for sharing with us!
In this interview yoga teacher Paul Denniston will discuss:
his use of yoga as therapy for grief
how various types of yoga can help release grief that has been stored in the physical body
tips and strategies for moving through grief
why laughter yoga is especially healing.
Paul Denniston teaches Grief Yoga to bereavement groups in one of the largest hospices in Los Angeles, and has taught for several years at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. He offers techniques and exercises to therapists, counselors and health care professionals in the United States, England and Australia. Paul has studied with some of the world’s leaders in grief work, including David Kessler, William Worden and Elisabeth Kubler Ross.
Tune in every Monday for a new episode! If you enjoy this podcast please consider leaving a review on iTunes – it will be greatly appreciated!
Learn how this unconventional therapy can help us heal from grief and trauma.
In this episode I share an interview with Dr. Linda Backman, a psychologist and regression therapist who helps people access information from previous lives and between lives. Whether or not you believe in multiple lifetimes you’ll find her work and experiences fascinating.
November 16-17 I’ll share with you a series of presentations on end-of-life issues with a variety of speakers, like Caleb Wilde of Confessions of a Funeral Director, oncology nurse and author Meina Dubetz RN, Carla Fernandez and Lennon Flowers of The Dinner Party and Larry Wildemuth, who’ll talk about the end-of-life planning game Go Wish! You’ll also be able to listen to Encore Interviews from previous Death Expo events with Stephen Jenkinson, Jerrigrace Lyons, and Kate Kalanick of The Green Burial Council.
All you have to do to join in is make sure you are on the End-of-Life University mailing list:
Learn why you should write your story and Joanna’s tips for getting it done and out to the world.
In this episode I interview Joanna Penn, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction, about why and how we should each feel empowered to tell our own stories, even when they focus on difficult subjects like death and dying. Joanna’s website TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the top 10 sites for writers and self-publishers.
I’ve recently returned from my amazing month-long trip to Italy and have so many great photos and stories to share with you!
Check out my Instagram feed to see lots of photos from our journey and soon I will begin posting stories on my blog at www.eoluniversityblog.com where you can read about some of our adventures. The purpose of this trip was to gather information for my next book: A Grief Pilgrimage Through Italy. Stay tuned for more information!
I’ve created a workshop on “Resilience for Death-Care Workers,” which I just presented to the entire field staff of Denver Hospice. It was a profound experience to talk about the mindset and self-care practices that help us avoid burnout in our work. If you are interested in learning more about this workshop contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or use the form below:
This podcast is generously supported through your donations at Patreon.com/eolu. When you contribute just $1 or $2 per month it not only helps defray the costs of creating this podcast but it also lets me know that you appreciate this content and would like to see and hear more! A huge THANK YOU to all of you who have been supporting the podcast for the past year! Go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more.
Joanna Penn writes thrillers under the name J.F. Penn and she also writes inspirational non-fiction for authors. She is an award-winning creative entrepreneur and international professional speaker who talks with us today about how to write the stories that we are carrying inside of us so that we can help others with our words.
If you have been wanting to write a book (as most Americans say they want to do) then this interview will help you get started – especially if you want to write about the difficult subjects of death, dying and grief.
In this interview we’ll talk about:
How writing our stories can change us
How to overcome self-doubt as a writer
How to actually finish what you’ve started
How to handle the vulnerability that comes with telling your own story
How to get started writing your book
Joanna is an excellent resource for information on writing and self-publishing which she shares through her blogs, podcasts, books, and courses. Check out her website TheCreativePenn.com to learn more and connect with Joanna.
Remember there will be a new episode every Monday! If you enjoy this podcast please consider leaving a review on iTunes – I would greatly appreciate it!
Learn how Treya Wilber’s spiritual practice helped her transcend fear and die consciously as told in Ken Wilber’s book Grace and Grit.
In this episode I share a powerful and heartfelt interview with Ken Wilber where we discuss the subject of “Conscious Dying” and how the life and death of his wife Treya so beautifully teach us to live and die consciously, as told in the book Grace and Grit.
Whether or not death and dying are issues that concern you at this time in your life, you will find value in listening to Ken’s discussion of this important subject. Each of us must come to terms with our mortality in the physical realm and be prepared for an unknown future. Each of us also must face losing those we deeply love, and caring for them through illness and adversity.
We can learn from Ken and Treya’s experiences how to love totally and consciously during our lifetimes – and how to let go of that love and life itself when that time arrives for us.
This interview will cover:
The meaning of “conscious dying” from a spiritual perspective
Ken’s caregiver journey and how it became his spiritual path
How Ken and Treya “carried one another’s pain” during the course of her illness and dying process
The Buddhist practice of tonglen and why it was important to Treya
How the term “passionate equanimity” describes Treya’s approach to living and dying
Ken Wilber is a philosopher, sage, author and integral theorist who has been called “the Einstein of Consciousness.” He is:
The most translated writer on consciousness studies in the United States
Author of 22 books on spirituality and science –
A Theory of Everything
A Brief History of Everything
Sex, Ecology and Spirituality
The Integral Vision
Creator of Integral Theory – a model for organizing different perspectives of life and consciousness
His book Grace and Grit chronicles the life and death of his second wife Treya Killam Wilber.
This is a special episode on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 and in recognition of the recent natural disasters, hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the wildfires that rage throughout the Western United States.
In this brief episode I share an essay I wrote on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that is still relevant today. Join me in sending prayers of light and love to all who have been affected by the tragedy of 9/11, by the recent natural disasters around the planet and by war and famine wherever they occur.
Blessings to all the first responders who risk their own lives to provide safety for others during times of tragedy.
My trip to Italy is just around the corner! Check out my travel plans on Pinterest or follow my journey on Instagram and Facebook! I’ll be doing research for a new book on grief – you can read my latest blogs (on grief and other subjects) at eoluniversityblog.com!
The following is an essay I wrote in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks:
Where Was God On 9/11?
by Karen Wyatt MD
As we look back to that fateful September day a decade ago that changed our world forever, each of us is able to recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when the tragedy unfolded. Indelibly etched upon our souls is the memory of the Twin Towers crashing to the ground while we were experiencing within us the disintegration of the twin beliefs behind our quintessential American swagger, that this country is infallible and invincible.
In the days following that Tuesday morning, as I attended to my patients at an urgent care clinic in the resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado, nearly every visit focused in some way on the horrific scenes of 9/11. Many patients were visitors to our area, many were suffering with symptoms of anxiety and stress, and nearly all of them had some personal connection to the tragedy, whether through a friend, relative, co-worker or acquaintance.
During those visits the same questions seemed to arise over and over again, “Where was God on 9/11?” and “How could God let this happen to us?” A few people told stories they had heard of miraculous rescues that had taken place or of some fortunate individual who had dodged fate by missing the bus or calling in sick to work that day. Those few were able to see the hand of God in these miracles and felt their faith bolstered by them. But many of my patients were disheartened and lost in doubt as the God they had believed in and trusted had utterly failed them.
The destruction that took place on 9/11 was unprecedented in the history of our young nation, unlike the many developed civilizations of the world that have survived brutal and devastating wars, fires, plagues, invasions and attacks throughout their long existences. Our country, with youthful idealism, has been founded upon the principle of religious freedom and has, until 9/11, enjoyed the illusion of a special contract with God, declared in writing on even the currency we spend.
“In God we trusted,” is now the slogan that describes the attitude of the disillusioned. God let US down: the special ones who established a new country to ensure that God could be freely worshipped by all and who believed that God, in return, would favor us over every other society. But 9/11 proved to us that we’re not really special or favored at all. In fact we are subject to the same laws of nature and the universe and mankind that govern all of creation.
What we actually lost on 9/11 was our illusion of a god who would choose one group of children over another, who would control the unfolding of history to ensure that we would always get what we want, or who would magically empower one society to hold dominion over others. We lost our childish and immature notion that God would swoop down and shield us from harm because we somehow deserve protection more than any other society on the planet.
However the tragic events of 9/11 and the difficult decade that has followed can serve as an initiation of sorts, an opportunity for our society to awaken into a more mature relationship with God, the Creator of All. In this post-traumatic state of heightened awareness we can now relate to the suffering of all of mankind with less swagger and more sensitivity, less entitlement and more empathy. While we can still celebrate our freedom we will do so now with the solemn knowledge that the expression of true liberty requires responsibility toward others and the planet; we can no longer think or feel or act as if we matter more than everything else.
And so, the question remains, where was God on 9/11? God was … in every ash and cinder, in every teardrop, in every piece of twisted metal, in every broken heart, in every outstretched hand, in every final breath, in every lit candle, in every moment of stunned silence, in every desperate prayer, in every word of doubt and disbelief, in every shout of anger, in every act of bravery, in every cry of fear. On that day, as on every other day, God the Creator permeated everything, held the fragile strands of our existence and wove them gently into the unseen, yet perfect, tapestry of the Universe.
Remember that in the midst of tragedy we cannot see the tapestry that we are part of – we cannot perceive the design or the beauty into which our lives have been woven. Stay strong and know that you are surrounded by light and love!