Ep. 123 Goals and Wishes for 2018: Let’s “Be Good at Death”

Hear my far-reaching dreams and ideas for changing the way people die in the U.S. in 2018.

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goals2018In this episode I talk about some of my own personal goals for the New Year and then discuss a list of ideas for ways in which we need to improve all aspects of the end of life. Get some inspiration for steps you can take within your own community and in your own personal life to “Be Good at Death.”

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:
A Year of Reading

I’ve started a new year-long reading group called A Year of Reading Dangerously for 2018! We’ll be exploring death and the afterlife through books that hopefully will inspire us and stretch our boundaries. Sign up to receive a monthly email with the book selection for the month and a downloadable reader’s discussion guide. Join the fun!

Sign up here.

A HUGE thank-you to my latest supporters: Claire Turner and Dr. Leslie Robinson. Your contribution is greatly appreciated as it helps defray the costs of producing and broadcasting this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series, but it also provides me with much-needed emotional and spiritual support! To donate as little as $1 per month go to Patreon.com/eolu.

There is a new pledge level on Patreon-the Platinum level-where for a donation of $5 per month you’ll receive replays of ALL of the End-of-Life University Interviews for 2018. So check it out now!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

What we need to do to “Be Good at Death” in 2018″:

  1. Policy Level changes needed:
    1. Improve reimbursement for Palliative Care
    2. Stabilize and improve reimbursement for Hospice Care
    3. Establish a system for paying family caregivers
  2. Medical System changes needed
    1. Integrate Palliative Care into Primary Care and therefore …
    2. Increase home-based palliative services
    3. Rank hospitals according to the quality of end-of-life care provided (based on an article by Dr. Haider Warraich from Duke University). Dr. Warraich’s criteria for this ranking include:
      1. “percentage of patients with a documented health care proxy
      2. percentage of patients who receive heroic measures like cardiopulmonary resuscitation or cardiac defibrillation
      3. appropriate use of hospice and palliative care
      4. the likelihood of a family recommending the hospital for end-of-life care
      5. whether patients’ location of death was concordant with the place in which they had wanted to die
      6. availability of around-the-clock spiritual resources
      7. the training the medical team receives for dealing with the medical and psychosocial issues that arise when death is imminent”   ((Thank you Dr. Warraich for this fabulous idea!))
  3. Medical Education changes needed
    1. Train all medical providers in palliative care (at least a one-month rotation) regardless of specialty
    2. All medical students work with dying patients in at least one rotation
    3. Teach better conversational and listening skills to medical providers
    4. Help medical providers process their own fears and biases toward death and their repressed grief
  4. Community changes needed
    1. Create adjuncts to hospice care:
      1. Non-medical social hospices
      2. All-volunteer non-medical hospice services
      3. Hospices train volunteer death doulas to augment the care currently being provided
    2. Establish Caregiver Education programs in the community
    3. Create a No One Dies Alone program in hospitals and nursing facilities
    4. Improve community education about death and dying through:
      1. Death Cafes
      2. Book clubs
      3. Workshops
      4. Advance Directive courses
      5. Death and Dying classes for high schools, colleges and universities
  5. Individual changes needed:
    1. Continually work on our own fear and resistance to death
    2. Explore our unhealed and repressed grief (consider travel to help with grief)
    3. Keep learning about death
    4. Talk about death with others in our social circle
    5. Make death part of your every day life 
    6. Teach children about death and help them navigate through loss and grief

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Come back each Monday for a new episode! Visit Patreon.com/eolu if you’d like to become a supporter and leave a review on iTunes if you enjoy this podcast.

Until next week:

Face Your Fear          BE Ready         Love Your Life

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Ep. 122 Top 10 “Game Changers” of 2017 for the Death-Positive Movement

Learn about my Top-10 picks for people, events and trends that have changed the end-of-life movement in 2017.

PodcastGameChangers

2017In 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.

Happy Holidays!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Patreonbecome2xYou can support this podcast by making a small donation of $1 or $2 at Patreon.com/eolu.

 

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

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 Ungerleider and 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.

Until then remember to ….

Face Your Fear            BE Ready           Love Your Life

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Ep. 97 Tribute to Jon Underwood, Founder of the Death Cafe Movement

In memory of Jon’s contributions to positive conversations about death through Death Cafe.

PodcastUnderwood

deathcupThis episode is dedicated to the memory of Jon Underwood who died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 44 on June 27, 2017. I share an interview with Jon from 2015 about Death Cafe, why he started the movement, and his dreams of creating an actual Death Cafe in London. Thank you Jon for changing how the world talks about death! Learn more at DeathCafe.com.

 

A crowdfunding campaign has been started to help support Jon’s family and you can learn more about it at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jon-underwood

Watch a video about the campaign here: https://youtu.be/o6-6LyUf2do

Please consider making a donation as a way of thanking Jon posthumously for his work!

Patreonbecome2xThis podcast is supported through generous donations at Patreon.com/eolu. Thank you to my latest supporter John Wadsworth who is the founder and creative director of Art of Dying Magazine (go to ArtofDying.net to learn more.) If you would like to become a donor go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more.

About the 2015 interview with Jon Underwood:

When Jon Underwood and his Mom, Sue Barsky Reid, hosted the very first Death Cafe in his home in London in September 2011, they had no idea they were creating a movement that would sweep across the world.

In this interview Dr. Karen Wyatt and Jon Underwood will talk about the past, present and future of Death Cafe. You will learn how you can be part of the Death Cafe movement whether you would like to attend a Cafe, start your own, or support Jon’s future dream of opening a real Death Cafe in London!

We can learn from Jon’s story that it is possible for one person with a simple idea to create big changes in the world!

Thank you Jon creating those big changes for all of us! We wish that we had more time to be inspired by you but you have always taught that life is fleeting. You enjoyed each moment just as each of us must learn to do.

If you want to learn more about the new textbook The Death Cafe Movement go to this link: http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319542553

Tune in every Monday for a new episode! Until the next time:

Face Your Fears.                     BE Ready.                      Love Your Life!

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Ep. 71 The Death-Positive Movement: Trends and Goals for 2017

It’s a brand new year! Let’s look ahead and see what’s possible in 2017!

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In today’s episode of the podcast we’ll look ahead at the coming year, study the trends in the death-positive movement and discover where it might be possible to create new volunteer and career opportunities for ourselves and our communities in 2017.

First I’ll share my own goals for the coming year, which include revising, editing and publishing the two books I wrote in 2016. I also plan to release two new training courses this spring and have lined up a fascinating group of speakers for the End-of-Life University Interview Series. To stay up-to-date on all the latest interviews and offering from EOLU, be sure to to sign up for the mailing list here.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the contributors to this podcast on supportonpatreon-e1412764908776Patreon.com/eolu. Your support helps pay for the expenses of creating this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series. If you’d like to become a patron just go to Patreon.com/eolu and sign up to contribute just $1 or $2 per month.

Here are some of the Trends I’ll be watching in 2017:

  1. Increasing number of Palliative Care Programs in hospitals across the country. Though many of the current programs are either understaffed or underfunded, these problems are likely to be corrected in the near future. To meet current standards, each palliative care team must have a chaplain and a social worker so if you have training in either of those fields you might find employment opportunities in a palliative care program in your community.
  2. Need for creative solutions for hospice care. Because for-profit hospices are taking over many of the smaller non-profit hospices there is a risk that uninsured patients or those with needs for expensive care might be turned away. There is a need for social-model hospices (see Episode 23) and possibly for community-based non-profit, non-Medicare-certified organizations that can help bridge gaps in services for hospice patients. Here are some recommended training programs for becoming an end-of-life doula or midwife:
    1. Sebastopol CA: Jerrigrace Lyons http://finalpassages.org
    2. Austin Texas: Donna Belk (Online training program): http://beyondhospice.com
    3. Austin Texas: Deanna Cochran http://www.qualityoflifecare.com
    4. Ann Arbor Michigan: Merrilyn Rush and Patty Brennan http://center4cby.com This training starts right away – Feb. 3-5, 2017
    5. Calgary Canada: Sarah Kerr http://soulpassages.ca/about/
    6. New York and online: Suzanne B. O’Brien RN: http://www.doulagivers.com
  3. Need for more caregivers. As baby boomers age and approach the end-of-life the caregiver shortage will become a much greater issue. Opportunities will exist to create caregiver training and support services in communities and even to start businesses that employ caregivers.
  4. Community outreach can help support the changes that are slowly occurring in the healthcare system. One of the best ways to encourage change in healthcare is to empower consumers to demand changes from their physicians. This will require outreach and education in the community. Here are some ideas for outreach and links to learn more from previous podcasts:
    1. Plan a community end-of-life event.
    2. Start a Death Cafe.
    3. Plan an EOL Film Festival.
    4. Start an EOL Book Club. Get a list of potential books here.
  5. Create an “Inreach” for members of the EOL community by starting a discussion group, networking event or collaboration opportunity for those who are already working in this arena.
  6. Bring volunteer movements to your community. Consider starting a group of volunteer caregivers who can provide respite care for family caregivers or start your own chapter of Threshold Choir, Twilight Brigade, or No One Dies Alone.
  7. Provide education for your community either as a voluntary act of service or as a paid instructor. Here are some possible ideas:
    1. Assist people to correctly complete their advance directives.
    2. Teach a community class on death and dying.
    3. Train caregivers.
    4. Teach about green burial, promote a natural burial ground in your community, help people access green burial supplies
    5. Educate the community about their rights to a home funeral

I hope these ideas inspire your own personal goals for 2017! Stay connected with me and keep tuning in to the podcast. Let me know your own inspirations and plans for the New Year by adding your comments.

Until next week ….

Face Your Fears.              BE Ready.             Love Your Life.

Ep. 37 Creating a Support Community as an End-of-Life Worker

 

Today Dr. Karen Wyatt discusses some ideas for building a support community for end-of-life workers and people interested in death and dying. Working in this field can be rather lonely at times as our society still fears and avoids the subject of death. But we need a network of support around us in order to do this challenging work. So here are some ideas for creating our own community of support:

  • Attend a Death Cafe. Learn more and out if there is a Death Cafe in your area by searching the Death Cafe website: www.DeathCafe.com
  • If there is no face-to-face Death Cafe in your area consider calling in by telephone to the Virtual Death Cafe, which generally meets on the 2nd Sunday of each month. Learn more at www.eoluniversity.com/death-cafe
  • Start your own Death Cafe. If you feel inclined to become a Death Cafe host (no specific training is required) you might want to start your own and truly benefit your community. Get completes Guidelines for starting a Death Cafe at www.DeathCafe.com/how
  • Use Social Media sites to get connected with others:
    • On Facebook search for these pages or public groups (then “Like” the page or ask to become a member of the group): Slow Medicine, Afterlife Awareness, Death Cafe, Death Midwifery in Canada, End-of-Life University, Death Expo
    • Linked-In: search for groups based on interests such as Hospice, Palliative Care, Chaplain Services, Grief, End-of-Life
    • Twitter: follow hashtags like #EOL #hpm #eolchat #dwd #eolcare #funeralplanning #deathcafe #hospice (depending on your interests)
  • Start a death and dying Meetup Group. You can create your own curriculum for a meetup (unlike Death Cafe that has no agenda) and include films, speakers, panel discussions, field trips. Go to www.Meetup.com to see if there is already a meetup in your area or to start one of your own.
  • Teach a class in your community. Consider teaching a death and dying class at a local community college if you have the credentials for it, or offer a class at your local senior or community center. Read this blog for some tips for teaching such a course HERE.
  • Join an organization. I highly recommend that you look into joining the National Home Funeral Alliance, which offers free registration, monthly conference calls and an annual face-to-face conference. You don’t have to be a home funeral guide to join and you will find many, many like-minded people there! Learn more about the NHFA at www.homefuneralalliance.org
  • Listen to educational interviews like this podcast or the interviews on the End-of-Life University Seminar Series. Click HERE to subscribe to the podcast and HERE to sign up for the seminar series.

Remember to support EOLU at patreon.com/eolu, tune in every Monday for a new episode, and leave your comments and reviews!

Face Your Fears.      BE Ready.      Love Your Life.

Ep. 29 How to Start a Death Cafe with Betsy Trapasso

Learn all about the rapidly growing, grassroots movement of the Death Cafe from Betsy Trapasso who has been hosting cafes in Los Angeles for the past 3 years. Betsy will share stories from her own experiences with Death Cafe Los Angeles and fill us in on:

  • How and why she started Death Cafe LA
  • The benefits of hosting a Death Cafe
  • How to plan and promote a Death Cafe in your own community

Whether you are interested in starting or attending a Death Cafe or if you just work in the end-of-life arena, you will want to listen in to this informative interview!

Websites: http://www.betsytrapasso.com