Ep. 128 Why We Need Death Education for Everyone Right Now

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!

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DEATHEDforeveryoneThis 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.

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Click here to get your free Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class to help you create your own class!

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS: 

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.

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

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 issues are 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. 

Slide01You 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.

Click here to get the guidelines!

 

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!

Until next week remember:

Face Your Fear          BE Ready           Love Your Life

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Ep. 108 3 Keys to Living & Dying Consciously

Learn how to awaken to higher consciousness NOW so that you can experience conscious dying at the end of your life.

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Wyatt13_2In this episode I share the secret behind the 3-part tagline I use on the EOL University website and at the end of every podcast. (If you listen regularly you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about!) I discuss the wisdom behind the phrases I repeat each week and how they represent keys to our ongoing spiritual evolution!

Check out my author/speaker website here.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

IMG_0230My long-awaited trip to Italy begins tomorrow, the day after the original airing of this podcast! You can follow my journey on Instagram and Facebook as I hike, bike, eat, drink, pray, and write my way through the country–all in search of the perfect stories for my new book on grief! I’ve pre-recorded enough podcast episodes to last until I return in one month–“see” you then!

Patreonbecome2xI would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Rich Hayes, who is a hospice chaplain. Check out his website at www.richhayes.com and his book God Made Simple. If you would like to join the list of patrons go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more and chip in $1 or $2 per month to support this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series. You’ll receive a thank-you on this podcast and I’ll also promote your end-of-life related book, website, cause or business. PLUS you’ll receive the monthly Hospice Happy Hour Q&A recordings!

FEATURED PRESENTATION:

3 Keys to Living & Dying Consciously

(Be sure to tune in to upcoming podcast episode #112 when I will feature an interview with philosopher and sage Ken Wilber about conscious dying and the death of his wife Treya. If you are interested in conscious dying you won’t want to miss it!)

In order to die consciously you must first begin to LIVE consciously right now. Here are my 3 tips for awakening to higher consciousness–they have been hiding all along in the simple tagline I use at the end of every podcast! Now you’ll find out what I mean when I remind you of them every week!

Face Your Fear

You must go through your fear in order to rise above it; the more you hide and run away from your fear of death (which is the ultimate fear) you run away from joy, as well. So begin to accept that Death is inevitable–everything in the Universe dies–and life is full of difficulties. Once you embrace that fact you can begin to work specifically on your fear of death and turn it into acceptance.

Follow these 6 steps to rise above your fear of death:

  1. Think about death every day. Include contemplation of death as part of your daily practice; get used to the idea that life is fleeting and you don’t know when it will come to an end.
  2. Read about death. Find books (e.g. What Really Matters) and stories that portray death and dying in a meaningful way to help you see that it is not necessarily something to fear. The dying process can be a beautiful time of healing for patients and families.
  3. Write about death. Use your journal to record your thoughts and emotions about death. Observe how they change over time as you continue this practice of increasing death-awareness. (The book The Tao of Death with its companion journal can be a helpful tool for reading and writing about death.)
  4. Learn about death. The more information you have about the end of life, the more your fears will lessen. Knowledge is one of the most powerful antidotes to fear. Tune in to the interviews on End-of-Life University for an ongoing education about all aspects of the end of life.
  5. Talk about death. Get comfortable including death and dying in your everyday conversations. You’ll find yourself better able to comfort friends and co-workers when they have experienced a loss and you’ll be helping others to tell their stories too.
  6. Work with death. Consider volunteering for hospice to learn how to sit with death and witness the dying process. Hospitals and nursing homes are also good places to volunteer to get closer to death and overcome your fear.

BE Ready

There is no substitute for preparation, no matter what you might face in the future. Once your fear has decreased begin to plan ahead for the end of life and imagine how you would like that experience to unfold. Here are some steps to help you get ready:

  1. Know what really matters to you. Spend some time thinking about what in your life is most important and prioritize those items. You need to know what you value in order to make tough decisions in the future.
  2. Make choices for what you want at the end of life. Use a tool like the Conversation Project Starter Kit to help you decide what type of healthcare you would like to receive in your last days.
  3. Complete your paperwork. You need to appoint a healthcare proxy and fill out an advance directive form in order to give your wishes some legal clout. But you also need to talk to your loved ones and your doctors about your wishes so they will know how to care for you if you can’t speak for yourself.
  4. Tend to your relationships. Learn how to forgive NOW so that you won’t be rushing to complete this important task while on your deathbed. Remember to say “I love you” to those who matter to you whenever you have an opportunity.
  5. Learn to BE in the present moment. Let go of ruminating about the past and worrying about the future–love and joy exist right here, right now in this present moment.

Love Your Life

Once you have learned to manage fear and to BE ready for anything that comes your way, you can begin to learn to love your life just as it is, even if you are surrounded by tragedy and pain. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Live according to what really matters to you. Let you values guide your choices each day and put your time and energy into the things that are most important.
  2. Practice gratitude each day. Keep a journal and begin by writing down one thing you are grateful for each night before you go to sleep. Even in the worst of times you will be able to think of one thing to be thankful for–you just have to shift your mindset to a more positive focus.
  3. Learn to find love in every situation. After you have developed a gratitude practice you will begin to notice that love is actually present everywhere, in everything that happens. Start focusing on the love and you will find it more and more frequently.
  4. Allow love to fill you. You can become a channel for love to the rest of the world by simply letting love into your life in every possible way. Fill yourself with love so you can share it with others.

Life is an ongoing learning process! No lesson comes easily or without a certain amount of pain, but it’s worth it. If you begin conscious now and begin to live a life of love, then you will remain conscious when it becomes your time to die. You will continue to radiate beauty and joy to those around you–I’ve seen it happen over and over again!

Here are two books to help your learning process and your practice of death awareness:

WRM@flatcover                   Tao

Check them out on Amazon: What Really Matters        The Tao of Death

Keep tuning in each Monday for a new episode and if you enjoy this podcast please consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thank you!!

Until the next time, remember ….

Face Your Fear                                BE Ready                         Love Your Life

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Ep. 76 What My Hospice Patients Wanted You to Know

What advice do hospice patients have about how we should live?

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In this episode I’ll share some of the wisdom I gathered from my hospice patients as they faced the end of life. This simple advice can help us live more fully with less fear and worry.

supportonpatreon-e1412764908776This podcast is sponsored through the EOLU donation page at Patreon.com/eolu. By contributing just $1 or $2 per month you can help support the podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series. If you  become a supporter I will happily promote your book, website, cause or organization on a future episode of the podcast!

Today I have a huge thank-you for my new patron on Patreon.com/eolu: Kerrie Noonan. Thank you for your support Kerrie!

In the News:

  1. An article on Time.com listed “7 New Jobs That Are So ‘2017’” and included Death Doula as one of the new occupations! What’s great about this is the fact that a major news outlet is breaking through the taboo and using the word “death” and that there has been a recognition of the importance of people who assist others at the end of life. In Episode 71 I listed Death Doula as one of the trends for the year and included links to several training programs for becoming a doula. If you are considering a career change or looking for some post-retirement work you might want to become a midwife for the dying. There will be a huge demand in the very near future for people fulfilling this role.
  2. In a story reported on the Today show we learned that 31-year-old actor Chris Salvatore invited his 89-year-old neighbor to live with him when she was no longer able to live on her own. Salvatore and Norma live in the same apartment building and had been friends for about 5 years when she was hospitalized with leukemia and respiratory problems. When doctors told Norma she would have to go to a long-term care facility because she had no family members to care for her, Chris stepped up and took her into his home. He now provides care for her as she faces the end of her life. Doctors didn’t expect Norma to live through the holidays but she is thriving in her new home. This example of selfless generosity is exactly what we need as we move into the future where 25% of Baby Boomers will have no family members available to provide care to them. Well done Chris Salvatore – a huge salute to you from End-of-Life University!

What My Hospice Patients Wanted You to Know:

Here is some of the wisdom my hospice patients shared with me as they neared the end of their lives. I promised them that I would bring their messages to you since they are no longer here to speak for themselves.

The spiritual lessons I learned have been compiled in the book What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying. The following tips are the additional pieces of advice they had for all of us:

(Read the full blog post here.)

  • “What seems important now doesn’t matter in the end.”
  • “Don’t worry so much about diet and exercise.”
  • “Your doctor doesn’t have all the answers for you.”
  • “Your life’s purpose isn’t what you think.”
  • “Religion is less important than learning how to love others.”
  • “Dying isn’t as scary as you think.”
  • “You’re going to die anyway so you might as well be ready.”

Listen to this episode so you can learn more about each of these statements. And then maybe you’ll be inspired to change some aspects of your life and prepare for the very end!

Be sure to subscribe to End-of-Life Interview Series (if you haven’t already) so you can listen to our fantastic educational interviews with EOL experts every month. Go to www.eoluniversity.com to register. And if you’d like to support EOLU and this podcast check out the donation page at Patreon.com/eolu.

Tune in next week for another new episode and until then remember:

Face Your Fears.                      BE Ready.                    Love Your Life.

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