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.”
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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 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 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:
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!
Learn how Blyth Lord coped with the illness and death of her young daughter and went on to create the Courageous Parents Network.
In this episode I share an interview with Blyth Lord whose daughter Cameron died before the age of two of Tay-Sachs disease, a rare genetic disorder. She describes how she coped with her grief and established a non-profit to help other parents who are caring for children with life-limiting illness.
On the evening of August 21st I’ll share a conversation with hospice and palliative care physician Dr. Ira Byock about the 20th Anniversary of his groundbreaking book Dying Well. Join us for this LIVE event where you will be able to chat with Dr. Byock and ask questions about his books and his work. Let’s show our gratitude for his dedication to improving the way we care for people at the end of life. Learn more and register here. (It’s free and you’ll receive the replay if you can’t join us on the 21st.)
This podcast is supported through the generous donations of “patrons” who chip in $1 or $2 per month to help cover the costs of production. A HUGE thank you to all of you who are helping out! Our next Hospice Happy Hour will take place on Friday August 25th (you’ll receive all the information by email.) If you’d like to become a donor go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more!
I chose to share today’s interview because of the very recent death of Charlie Gard, an 11-month old boy in England with a rare, inherited mitochondrial disease. His terminal condition sparked a controversy that spread around the world when the hospital providing his care proposed that Charlie’s life support be terminated. Even the Pope and President Trump weighed in on the issue that went to a high court to decide little Charlie’s fate. Ultimately his parents yielded to the court’s decision and Charlie died on Friday July 28th.
This heartbreaking story points out how nearly impossible it can be for parents to make life-and-death decisions for their children. In this interview my guest Blyth Lord experienced a similar tragic situation when her baby daughter was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, a rare genetic disorder. Blyth shares how she coped with the diagnosis and the remaining months of her daughter’s life, as well as her subsequent grief.
Blyth went on to found the Courageous Parents Network and to contribute to the Pediatric Starter Kit for the Conversation Project. You’ll learn:
What factors are most helpful to families coping with the devastating loss of a child.
The benefits of Pediatric Palliative Care from a parent’s perspective.
How the Courageous Parents Network is offering support to parents caring for terminally ill children.
How the Pediatric Starter Kit from The Conversation Project is helping parents have important conversations with their ill children.
Blyth Lord is the founder and Executive Director of Courageous Parents Network, a nonprofit focused on improving the experience of parents caring for children with life-limiting illness through education, advocacy and parent-to-parent support. Blyth is also the Executive Director of the Cameron and Hayden Lord Foundation, a small family grant-making foundation whose mission is to advance pediatric palliative care in the United States, as well as fund research of therapies for lysosomal storage diseases. Blyth’s daughter, Cameron, and nephew, Hayden, died of Tay-Sachs disease in 2001. In the years following, Blyth has promoted the needs of families caring for children with serious illness and how providers can best meet these needs. Blyth is also co-chair of the Parent Advisory Group for the AAP’s Section on Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Blyth sits on the board of National Tay-Sachs and Allied Disease and on the board of The Children’s Room, a bereavement support program for young families who have lost parents/siblings/children.