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 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 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!
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 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!
Learn how pet therapy with a trained animal companion can benefit hospice patients physically and emotionally.
In this episode I share a “legacy interview” from the archives with Magnum – a trained facility dog – and his handler Carol Mestemacher about the benefits of pet therapy for hospice patients. Magnum recently “retired” from his volunteer position so I decided to honor his work by featuring this interview today. Thank you for your service Magnum and Carol!
A huge thank you to my new supporters on Patreon.com/eolu: Susan Clark and Howard Bryant! Your contributions help me keep this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air. If you’d like to join us for as little as $1 a month and receive special bonuses go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more!
Learn why and how to start a forgiveness practice now instead of waiting until your last days.
In this episode I share my thoughts about the importance of forgiveness and why you shouldn’t wait until the end of life to start practicing it. I’ve been working on it all my adult life and I can guarantee you it’s a worthwhile endeavor!
For the month of April I’m hosting the 10-day S.M.A.R.T. Decisions Challenge to help you get your advance directives completed in honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day. You’ll be guided step-by-step to figure out what really matters to you so that you can utilize that information as you fill out your living will and healthcare proxy forms. Sign up here.
If you are interested in teaching a death and dying class at some point in the future you can download the Teaching Guidelineshere! When you sign up you’ll be on the mailing list to learn about the upcoming Work Group and Mastermind for death and dying teachers!
Many of my hospice patients have been concerned about practicing forgiveness before they died. I sat with them at their bedsides as they struggled to let go of their anger and bitterness so that they could die in peace.
But I learned that it is possible to start the process of forgiveness now so that the task will be much easier at the end of life. Here are some of the mindset shifts I’ve found are helpful as you learn to forgive (listen to the episode to hear the details):
Life is a classroom – you can learn from any experience
You are not entitled to a life free from difficulties
The past no longer exists except in your memory where you keep negative events alive
It’s not your job to punish those who have harmed you (and trying to do that just hurts you even more)
You can make yourself whole again without getting an apology
The 4-View Forgiveness can help you get a broader perspective on past events
Simple rituals can help you let go of the past
Get the Forgiveness Tool Kitto learn more about strategies for practicing forgiveness on a daily basis so that you will be free of the burden of resentment at the end of life. Sign up for the kit here.
Tune in every Monday for a new episode! Leave a review on iTunes if you like this content (it really makes a difference) and go to Patreon.com/eolu if you’d like to become a supporter!
Learn about Molly’s innovative workshops on end-of-life planning that utilize art projects to inspire deep conversations.
In this episode I share an interview with Molly Stuart who is a lawyer, artist, chaplain and hospice volunteer. She teaches a wonderful workshop on end-of-life planning that includes art to help people uncover their deepest values and concerns.
Watch this episode on YouTube to view Molly’s slides:
The month of April features National Healthcare Decisions Day and in honor of that event I am sharing the 10-day S.M.A.R.T. Decisions Challenge – a free challenge that will help you get your end-of-life planning done with guidance along the way by email.
You can still sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously if you’d like to read one book a month with us about death and dying! Sign up here.
Get the Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class and you’ll be on the list to hear about upcoming Work Groups and a Mastermind Group for Death and Dying Class teachers. Download the guidelines here.
Thank you to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Kathy Lynch and thanks also to Cathy Duke for increasing your pledge! I’m so grateful for your contributions!
My guest Molly Stuart shares information about her innovative end-of-life planning workshops. We discuss:
How she got interested in teaching about end of life issues
The complicated nature of advance care planning
The 3-part workshop she designed, which includes:
Practical end-of-life medical and legal issues
Emotional aspects of living while knowing you’re going to die
Transformation and legacy
How Molly uses art to address:
The creative projects her students create as part of her workshops
How to create a legacy art project after the death of a loved one
Remember to tune in every Monday for a new episode and if you enjoy this content please subscribe and leave a review on iTunes!
Learn how a minimalist lifestyle can help you find more joy and meaning as you approach the later days of life.
In this episode I share my thoughts on why the minimalist lifestyle could help us avoid excessive and unnecessary medical treatment at the end of life. In addition there are many other benefits to living simply and with “less is more” as our goal when we get older.
You can still join A Year of Reading Dangerously and confront your own discomfort about death, dying and the afterlife by reading one “dangerous” book each month in 2018! Sign up here!
Get the Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class and you’ll be on the mailing list to learn about the next class on creating your own course in death and dying coming up soon! Sign up and download here!
I’m so grateful this week to my latest supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! Thank you so much to Glenda Myles, Malynda Cress, Karen Britton, Mila Martin, and Tami Yinger! Your generosity means so much to me! If you want to join them go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more about the bonuses you’ll receive for signing up!
The minimalist movement is all the rage right now among millennials and it has a lot of positive aspects we can learn from. The emphasis is on living simply, with less material possessions in order to have more joy and freedom in life. This lifestyle could serve us well as we approach our own end of life. Here are some ways to live more simply:
Clear out possessions that you no longer use or cherish. This idea has been described in a recent blog and book about the Swedish practice of “death-cleaning.”
Comes to terms with mortality. Recognize that life is finite and death is inevitable, therefore it is important to be intentional about how you live each moment in every day, including what kind of healthcare you choose.
Take control over your healthcare – be proactive and question recommendations in these areas:
Medications – Ask if the drugs you are taking are still necessary, if they could be causing side effects or creating negative interactions with one another. Ask if you can try reducing dosages or the number of medications you are being prescribed. Many seniors are taking at least 5 prescription medications according to studies.
Annual exam – studies show that the annual physical exam wastes money and time and might even be harmful. Ask if you can decrease to one physical every 3 yeats.
Health screenings – Over age 70 it is no longer recommended that you have the following screening tests: colonoscopy, mammogram, PSA, pap smear. Studies show that excessive screening can lead to false positive results, over-diagnosis and harmful over-treatment.
Plan aheadand be prepared in order to minimize complications in these areas:
Aging – How will you manage the physical changes of later life? Who will help you?
Housing – Where will you live if you can’t stay in your own home?
Terminal care – What type of treatment do you want to receive at the end of life and for how long?
After-death care – What type of funeral and burial do you want to have?
Learn to live in the moment – so you can enjoy all of life.
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 about the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of keeping a journal and why you should start doing it!
In this episode I share my thoughts on my own journaling practice and how it has changed my life. I also relate a story of a woman who kept a “hospice journal” during her last days of life. You’ll find plenty of reasons to start your own journaling practice and you can download the Journaling Starter Kit below if you are interested!
You can still join A Year of Reading Dangerously and start reading a book each month of 2018 about death and dying. It’s a great educational and inspirational experience! Click here to learn more and sign up.
Stay tuned for more information on my current Work Group for Death & Dying Teachers. We have gathered together a fabulous group of dedicated women who are going to be starting new classes on death and dying this year! I’ll be reporting on it in future episodes.
Thank you to my latest contributor on Patreon.com/eolu: Birgitte Due Jensen Koch! I appreciate your generosity and support so much! I’m grateful to everyone who is helping me keep this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air by making a financial commitment at Patreon.com/eolu.
This episode was inspired in part by a message I received from Evan Mercer about his wife Julie’s hospice journal, which he shared at her memorial service and in a video on YouTube:
I have been journaling for much of my life and have found it to be very beneficial in many ways. So I wanted to share this message to encourage everyone to give journaling a try and find out for yourself how it can help you. Here are some of the benefits I’ve received:
Creates discipline and a routine for my day
Helps me ventilate my emotions
Organizes my thoughts
Allows to analyze and process my judgments toward other people
Shows me another perspective and reveals my higher wisdom
Studies have shown that journaling has health benefits for people with chronic illnesses like asthma and arthritis and also for those with terminal illnesses like HIV/AIDS and cancer. I believe that keeping a “Hospice Journal” as Julie did can help terminal patients cope with a range of vacillating emotions as death approaches, discern what really matters in life, and leave behind a legacy for loved ones to cherish.
Journaling has also been shown to improve immune function and alleviate stress. Men seem to benefit from journaling even more than women and writing a journal by hand is more beneficial than typing on a keyboard.
Learn what qualities are needed to become the best-possible death education teacher and get inspired to teach your own class!
In this episode I focus once again on death education and talk about the qualities that are best suited to teaching this subject matter. Find out if you would be a good teacher and what subject and students are ideal for your knowledge and experience.
You’ll be on the list to learn more about upcoming work groups to help you put together you own class!
You can still sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously here (we’re having so much fun reading a book a month about death, dying and the afterlife!)
THANK YOU to my latest supporter at Patreon.com/eolu: Janel Barthe! Also thank you to Suzanne O’Brien of Doulagivers™ who has been supporting this podcast for over a year and is one of our biggest donors! Your encouragement and contribution to this work means everything to me! Go to Patreon.com/eolu if you’d like to join and become a patron – you’ll get access to the monthly Q&A call (Hospice Happy Hour) among other benefits!
Today I’m sharing some thoughts on what it takes to teach a death and dying class as part of my ongoing focus on death education for 2018!
To find out what you should teach and who your students should be consider your Passion, Knowledge and Experience. Make a list for each category:
What subject are you most passionate about in the end-of-life area?
What knowledge and training do you have in this area and in other subjects? What type of work have you done in the past?
What life experience have you acquired related to death and dying?
Try to find the overlap between these 3 lists. Ask yourself: what training or work history do you have that you could use to find students with whom you can share your passion and life experience? For example: if you have had a career in law enforcement, have been a hospice volunteer, and are passionate about helping people deal with grief then teaching law enforcement officers how to manage feelings of grief and trauma after being exposed to death in the field might be a perfect fit for you.
The qualities that will help you be a great teacher are:
Passion for your subject – choose the area that most makes you light up and your students will love learning from you
Flexibility – be able to change your focus on short notice based on the needs of your students and the events of life around you
Creativity – utilize your own inspiration to bring innovative ideas for activities, projects and field trips to your classroom
Curiosity – be a student yourself, always learning something new that you can bring to the classroom. Your syllabus will stay relevant and you will avoid burning out!
Open-mindedness – set aside your own agendas so that you can guide students to their own individual conclusions, even if they don’t agree with you; be able to let go of your attachments to the outcome of your teaching.
Even if you don’t feel like you are strong in all of these qualities don’t give up on the idea of being a death and dying teacher! You can keep growing and developing yourself as you teach others. Also don’t be afraid to get more education for yourself before you start teaching if there are subjects you still need to explore.
Learn why it’s difficult to make black-and-white decisions for the end of life when death itself is a mystery that will unfold with its own timing.
This week is a solo episode in which I share two stories about hospice patients I cared for and the unpredictability of death, even when a terminal diagnosis is present. This reality means that we have to keep growing in our awareness and acceptance of death as a mystery, even while we complete paperwork that gives concrete instructions for our last days of life. AND I feature some clips from my beautiful daughter Gia’s new album of Healing Chants!
A HUGE THANK YOU to my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu: Julie Lester, Brian Hempstead, and Mandy Pierpoint! Your generosity means so much to me! And thanks as well to all of the donors who have made pledges over the past year. I appreciate you so much! If you’d like to become a patron and receive the Hospice Happy Hour Q&A recording each month along with other bonuses go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more!
I learned through my hospice work that death is a mystery and cannot be predicted or controlled unless we choose to take it into our own hands. Even then the method we use to end our life might fail or we might die of other causes before we can carry out our plans. But that mysterious aspect of death makes it endlessly fascinating to witness. If we can adopt a beginner’s mind about death then we can gradually become more relaxed and less fearful as we watch it approach.
The stories of two of my hospice patients illustrate the mystery of death quite well. One man was expected to live for several months after he signed up for hospice but died the next day of a massive heart attack. Another was in terminal renal failure and, according to medical experts, could not possibly remain alive for more than 2 weeks. And yet, that patient survived an entire year (it’s a great story so please listen in!)
As we work to complete our advance directives and put our wishes into writing we should also remember that this paperwork is not a guarantee of how our final days will unfold. The legal forms just help us prevent an outcome we don’t want. But when and how death comes will still be a mystery and we may end up awake and alert during our final days and responsible for our own decisions. So we would do well to keep learning about death and growing in our acceptance. In that way we can best prepare ourselves for any decisions we have to make at the end of life.
Remember there’s a new episode each Monday! Please tune in again next week and, if you enjoy this content leave a review on iTunes.
Learn about studies that have shown the positive benefits of death awareness and why we need more of it in the world.
In this episode I share some recent studies that validate the fact that being aware of death has positive effects on behavior toward others. This is evidence that we need more classes, workshops, books, films, and discussion groups about death in order to promote health, peace, tolerance, and compassion in the world.
Remember you can still sign up for the online reading group A Year of Reading Dangerously by clicking here. Join us to read one book about death, dying and the afterlife each month during 2018!
You can also get the Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class here if you are interested in teaching a class in your community or for college or high school students. In addition when you sign up for the guidelines you could become part of a work group during the month of March to create a death and dying class.
THANK YOU to all of you who help support this podcast with your donations on Patreon.com/eolu!!
Kenneth Vail and his colleagues at the University of Missouri recently did a review of several studies on death awareness and behavior. They found that increased death awareness was associated with several positive behaviors that could lead to needed changes in how we live our lives and connect with one another. Here are some of the findings:
Helping behaviors increased when people were given subtle reminders of their mortality, such as being near a cemetery. These positive behaviors include compassion, tolerance, empathy and pacifism.
Pro-environmental behaviors increased for people with heightened death awareness
Positive health behaviors such as quitting smoking, starting an exercise program, and performing breast self-exams increased for people who became aware of death
People with fundamentalist religious values who had previously rejected members of other religions were more likely to show compassion toward those of other groups when they experienced greater death awareness
In our world that is currently suffering with environmental degradation, polarization of society, violence, and unhealthy behaviors perhaps increased death awareness could hold some promise for our survival. Join me in improving death awareness this year by reading books and teaching classes on death and dying!
Tune in every Monday for a new episode and if you enjoy this content consider leaving a review on iTunes (thank you – it makes a big difference!)
Learn tips for teaching college students about death and dying from psychologist and educator Stacy Smith.
In this episode I share an interview with Stacy Smith who teaches a course in the Psychology of Death and Dying to students at a local community college. She’ll offer some great tips about teaching your own class and help you get inspired to become a death-ed teacher!
Stacy Smith will share how she started teaching her college class: The Psychology of Death & Dying. In this interview you’ll learn:
How Stacy got interested in teaching a college class on death and dying
How to gain support from school administration and attract students to a death and dying class
An overview of Stacy’s lesson plan for this course
Projects, assignments, guest lecturers, and field trips she recommends
Feedback from students who have taken the course
Qualities of a great death and dying class teacher
Tips for starting your own class on death and dying
Stacy Smith has a degree in counseling education and counseling psychology from the University of Colorado in Denver. She created a Legacy program for 5-18 year olds dealing with grief and loss. She has been in private practice for 14 years and specialized in grief counseling. She has been teaching in the Psychology Department at Colorado Mountain College for 5 years, including the class: The Psychology of Death and Dying. She is currently writing a book about destigmatizing mental illness and treatment.
Learn why the Death Education movement is vitally important right now for our society and get inspired to teach your own class about death and dying!
This week I’m continuing my focus on death education by discussing some important reasons why right now we desperately need more death-ed in every aspect of our society. Learn how you might become a death educator in your own community and start to share your knowledge to help others become aware of death.
You can still join A Year of Reading Dangerously and start reading books about death and dying with 700 other people around the globe! You’ll get to take part in live Q&A discussions with the authors of many of the books we are reading. For February we are reading Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty–and she’ll be joining our discussion at the end of the month! Sign up now by clicking here!
Thanks again to all of my supporters at Patreon.com/eolu! Your generosity and encouragement mean everything to me! Become a patron for as little as $1 per month–where else can you do so much good with just $1? Go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more.
Today I’m discussing why we need death education everywhere in our society and here are some of the places where it should take place:
Home – parents need to learn how to talk about death and dying with their children rather than shielding them from the reality of death
Schools – high school and college classes are a perfect place to introduce death and dying to young, curious students who can only benefit from learning more about death. (Next week I’ll share an interview on this podcast with Stacy Smith who teaches The Psychology of Death & Dying to college students, and on EOLU at the end of February I’ll present an interview about a high school elective on Death and the Meaning of Life with the teacher and 3 of his students.
Churches – clergy of all faiths need to be educated about death and dying so that they can better support their congregants on end-of-life issues within their belief system
Workplaces – employers need to understand the impact of death and grief on their employees in order to create supportive policies for bereavement leave; workers need to know how to interact with co-workers who are suffering with illness and grief
Medical system – doctors, nurses, and all other providers of healthcare need education in how to get comfortable with death, talk about it with patients and families, guide decision-making, initiate conversations with patients
Hospitals and nursing homes – need education to create sacred spaces for dying, to support patients and families at the end of life and honor patients’ wishes
Some of the reasons why death education is so important right now are:
We are living longer and the incidence of complex diseases like Alzheimer’s is increasing which creates a need for better advance planning. Patients and families need to prepare for the type of medical care and caregiving that may become necessary and understand how they can provide for those possibilities in the future.
Medical technology continues to advance at a rapid rate. Our ability to forestall death and keep a body alive has far outstripped our willingness to grapple with difficult end-of-life decisions. We need education to help people plan and prepare for the future and be pro-active about the care they receive. Studies show that those who think and talk about death are more likely to put their wishes in writing, to talk with others about their wishes, and to stop medical treatment when it is no longer helping.
Ethical and moral dilemmas about end-of-life issuesare splitting our society and families. Debates over physician-assisted dying and discontinuing medical care when it is not helping are going to increase with the aging of the Baby Boom generation. According to Pew Research Center surveys: 47% of Americans favor assisted-dying laws and 49% are opposed; 66% believe that there are times when doctors should stop treatment and allow patients to die a natural death, but 31% believe that doctors should always do everything possible to prolong life. These opposing perspectives are likely to be present in families too, especially if no advance planning has been done.
The high cost of being unprepared for death. Lack of advance care planning can lead to higher medical expenses, especially if the patient receive extreme care that was not actually warranted or wanted. Families unprepared for funeral planning are more likely to choose higher cost options and be vulnerable to unscrupulous marketing practices when they are grieving. Failure to plan ahead and put wishes in writing can cause increased stress and guilt for family members who must make decisions without any guidance.
The emotional and spiritual cost of ignoring death. As described in episode 127, death is our greatest teacher about life. Those who fail to recognize the inevitability of death are less likely to live to the fullest and appreciate the moment because they think they have plenty of time.
If you care about any of these issues and have been learning about death and dying by listening to this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series, you are the perfect person to become a “death educator.” Start by sharing what you’ve learned with family and friends and consider putting together your own class in your community to help educate others.
You can download my free pdf: Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class and get some tips and tactics for starting your own community death-ed class! When you download the handout you’ll receive an invitation to a special work group I’m putting together in March on brainstorming your class.
Stay tuned to future episodes of this podcast to get more information about death education: next week I’ll share an interview with Stacy Smith about teaching college students about death and dying. On February 22nd I’ll present an interview on End-of-Life University with the teacher and students from a high school death-ed elective.
I hope you feel inspired to become a “death educator” in whatever capacity suits you, whether you simply share your knowledge with family and friends or start a class in your community!
If you enjoy this podcast please consider leaving a review on iTunes – it will be greatly appreciated!
Learn how our 100-year history of ignoring death has led to a death-phobic society and the consequences we face as individuals.
In this episode I share my thoughts on the negative effects, for individuals and for society in general, of our dysfunctional relationship with death. This topic leads into my theme for 2018: Death Education for Everyone, which you’ll be learning more about in upcoming episodes!
There’s still plenty of time to join the year-long reading group for 2018: A Year of Reading Dangerously. We just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air for January and are moving on to Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty for our February selection. Click here to join the reading group!
Huge thanks to all of my current supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! I appreciate your generosity very much and also the emotional and spiritual support I derive from knowing that you are listening and that you care about the work I’m doing!
For the past century we here in the U.S. (and other developed nations, as well) have been gradually slipping into a state of ignorance about death. With the rise of modern medicine and the funeral industry, death has been removed from the home and from day-to-day life, allowing us to shove death into the far reaches of consciousness and to deny to ourselves that it exists.
But death is an essential component of life that cannot be ignored without causing some negative consequences. Today I’ll talk about these factors that result from ignoring death:
We think there’s always more time
We forget that life is fragile
We don’t cherish our relationships
We don’t appreciate change
We are unable to find meaning in life
We don’t live life fully
Here are the quotes I included in today’s discussion:
“Man … lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama
“Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” – Steve Jobs
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is true and important.” – Steve Jobs
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” – Norman Cousins
“Many people die at twenty-five and aren’t buried until they are seventy-five.” – Benjamin Franklin
So commit to start recognizing the presence of Death in your life every day until you can embrace and appreciate Death as a necessary component of Life. Then go out and start teaching other people to do the same thing!
Tune in each Monday for a new episode. If you enjoy this content please consider leaving a review on iTunes!
Learn how Kelvin Chin has helped people from all over the world look at and cope with their fear of death.
In this episode I share an interview with Kelvin Chin, attorney, mediator, and meditation teacher, who helps people address their fears of death individually and through workshops and lectures. He is the author of the book Overcoming the Fear of Death through each of the 4 main belief systems.
You can still join A Year of Reading Dangerously and spend 2018 reading one book each month about end-of-life topics. We’re having a great time so join us! Click here to learn more.
Thanks as usual to all my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! I’m so grateful for your donations – they help me keep this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air!
My guest Kelvin Chin is the Executive Director and Founder of Overcoming the Fear of Death Foundation. Kelvin will share his experiences providing free counseling for people from all over the world to help them reduce their fear of death regardless of their belief system or culture.
In this interview you will learn:
How Kelvin started doing this work
The 4 Main Belief Systems about Death that cover all religions and cultures
How to help yourself or others overcome the fear of death
Why inner change is more important than changing external beliefs
How Kelvin’s talks and lectures about the fear of death are helping to reduce that fear for his audiences
The benefits of meditation in coping with our fears
Kelvin’s book is now available on Amazon. (NOTE: If you use my affiliate link to purchase the book I will receive a small commission from Amazon, which will not affect the amount you pay. Thank you!)
Tune in every Monday for a brand new episode! Leave a review on iTunes if you enjoy this content – I greatly appreciate it!