Ep. 102 Supernatural Stories from the Dreams of a Hospice Physician

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In this episode I’ll share my own “supernatural” dreams that occurred while I was caring for hospice patients. It’s time to come forward and talk more openly about these experiences to help shed light on the dying process and the after-death realms.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

An Evening withDr. Ira Byock

Register now for “An Evening with Ira Byock MD” which will take place on Monday August 21st at 6 pm Pacific/9 pm Eastern. We will be celebrating the 20th Anniversary of his groundbreaking book Dying Well. Dr. Byock and I will discuss the changes in palliative and hospice care that have taken place over the past 20 years and what changes still must occur to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to “die well.”

Click here to learn more and register (it’s free and you’ll receive the replay if you can’t attend live.) You’ll also receive the Dying Well Readers Discussion Guide – a very helpful resource for leading a book group or workshop on Dying Well.

Patreonbecome2xThis podcast is supported by generous donations to my page at Patreon.com/eolu. A HUGE “Thank you” goes out to my latest donor: Jane Duncan Rogers of BeforeIGoSolutions.com – a non-profit located in Scotland. And thanks as well to all of the other supporters who are chipping in a few $ per month to help keep the podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air! Learn more or become a patron at Patreon.com/eolu.

PERSONAL NEWS:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am currently planning an Autumn trip to Italy where I will be eating amazing food, viewing sacred sites, cycling, and researching a new book on grief. You can view my Pinterest board if you are interested in seeing all the locations on my “wish-list” for the trip. Feel free to make suggestions if you have a favorite spot in Italy that I shouldn’t miss! I’ll be sharing photos on Instagram and Facebook once the trip begins.

PRESENTATION:

This week I attended a meeting at the IANDS 2017 Conference in Denver (International Association for Near Death Studies.) I sat together in a small circle with individuals from all around the country who have had near-death experiences and also with end-of-life caregivers who have had unusual “supernatural” experiences while working with the dying.

I was impressed by the courage of the group members who were willing to share their stories and risk being labelled as “flakey” or even crazy. And that’s what inspired me to record this podcast episode. 

During my work with hospice patients on multiple occasions I experienced vivid dreams where I saw my patients in “soul form” (or a disembodied state) before they had actually died. These dreams brought me much comfort and also eased my fear of death. On some occasions I was able to share the dreams with family members who were comforted, as well, by the visions I had seen.

I have never shared these dreams publicly out of a fear of being ostracized by the medical profession. But the time for secrecy has long passed and we need transparency and truth in all matters surrounding death and dying. So I’m telling these stories in hopes that others might be inspired to talk openly about their experiences as well. If you have a story to tell but no one to share it with I hope you will email me at karen@karenwyattmd.com and describe your experience – let’s support one another!

Tune in next week for another new episode. Until then remember ….

Face Your Fear.                   BE Ready.                   Love Your Life.

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Ep. 79 The Death-Positive Mindset: How to Create and Share It

The term “death-positive” is everywhere these days. But what does it mean and how do we spread this mindset through our society?

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In this episode I’ll share thoughts from a recent blog post about how to make sure your own death mindset  is clear and free of hidden wounds. These simple practices will help you stay on track as you do your work in the world.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

slide01The Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning Course is now available if you need any help with your own advance care planning paperwork. You can learn more at this link:

http://www.eoluniversity.com/roadmap

 

death-afterlifesummitRegister now for the Death & Afterlife Summit, which will talk place on March 16-18, 2017. You’ll be able to hear presentations from 10 speakers on dying, death and beyond for FREE. Replays will be available if you can’t attend live. Learn more and register at this link: http://www.eoluniversity.com/afterlife

IN THE NEWS:

A Dutch nursing home is offering college students free rent in exchange for spending 30 hours per month with residents of the home. The students teach the elders how to use technology and get valuable experience connecting with the older generation. The expected benefits for the residents are decreased dementia symptoms, decreased loneliness and isolation, and increased life expectancy. A similar study is being conducted in the UK where students read poetry to nursing home residents, which has led to improved memory skills. We need programs like this in the US!

THE DEATH-POSITIVE MINDSET:

Read the original article here.

In order to help our society achieve a death-positive mindset we must tend to our thoughts and personal awareness of death. Even though we may work with the deaths of others on a daily basis, we can still be in denial of our own mortality. Here are some steps to take to ensure that your own death mindset is as free as possible of denial and fear:

  • Address your fears of death. Learn to live with your fear but not be controlled by it.
  • Explore your past experiences of grief. Process your old, unhealed losses and gradually work to release the pain you carry.
  • Challenge your misperceptions about death. Stop seeing death as sorrowful and learn to see that death can be both beautiful and tragic.
  • Change your language. Free yourself of “tragic-speak” and use non-negative language when describing death. Beware of overly positive platitudes as well, such as “It’s for the best” or “He’s in a better place.” Allow others to experience their own emotions about death without judging or amplifying their pain.
  • Think about death every day. Cultivate a daily death-awareness practice to stay mindful of how precious life is and to remember to make the most of every moment.

Do your work with an open mind and heart and help spread a death-positive mindset wherever you go.

supportonpatreon-e1412764908776If you’d like to support this podcast, go to Patreon.com/eolu to donate $1 or $2 per month.

Thank you to current patrons! Your support is greatly appreciated.

 

Tune in every Monday for a new episode and until next week remember:

Face Your Fears.               BE Ready.                 Love Your Life.

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Ep. 57 September End-of-Month Update and film Extremis

 

In today’s episode Dr. Wyatt thanks 3 new supporters on Patreon.com/eolu:

  • Joan Roellchen-Pfohl, RN
  • Martha Johnson – author of the upcoming book “Take Charge of the Rest of Your Life”; learn more at www.meetmarthajohnson.com
  • Marggie Hatala – author and teacher of a writing class related to end of life; her books are “Sally: A Memoir” and the forthcoming “Life as Prayer”; learn more at www.marggiehatala.com

Next she begins the Update for September by talking about the new documentary film currently streaming on Neflix: Extremis, which won 1st place at the Tribeca Film Festival. Please see this film which takes place in the ICU at Highland Hospital in Oakland and features Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter. This is a must-see film that brilliantly depicts the conundrum that exists at the end of life when painful decisions must be made. By showing the real-life conversations that take place in the ICU between staff, family members and patients, a case is made for everyone to complete their advance directives and prepare their loved ones to honor their wishes at the end of life. But the painful process of decision-making becomes apparent as each individual struggles with the unknown and the unknowable in these dire situations.

The other topics covered this month include:

  • BMJ Online report that patients who receive hospice care for the last 6 months of life have better pain control, fewer hospital days, and are less likely to die in the hospital or ICU.
  • Researchers at John Hopkins found that their palliative care program led to  savings of ~ $19 million over 5 years in addition to improved quality of care and patient satisfaction.
  • Study originally published in Health Affairs and reported on Reuters online showed gaps in palliative care in the US. Read the article.
  • “What it feels like to die,” an article in The Atlantic discusses the active dying process from the patient’s perspective. Read the article.
  • Friends and Family Letter Project by Dr. VJ Periyakoil at Stanford includes 7 prompts for letter writers to leave messages for their loved ones. Read the article.
  • “7 Songs for a Long Life” documentary from Scotland that depicts how terminally ill patients use singing as therapy. Read the article.
  • The Friendly Atheist Julie Stahl reminds us not to impose our own religious or spiritual beliefs on those who are grieving and may not share your perspective. Read her blog.

Thanks for tuning in to the podcast! I hope you enjoy this information. If you feel inspired to offer a little support go to Patreon.com/eolu to join the community!

Until next week remember:

Face Your Fears.               BE Ready.               Love Your Life!!!

Ep. 56 End-of-Life Book Showcase!

In this episode Dr. Karen Wyatt highlights several excellent books about the end of life that have been sent to her by their authors. If you have considered starting an end-of-life book club (as mentioned in Episode 33) you’ll find many great books to choose from in this list. Here are the book titles and authors, along with links for learning more or purchasing the books:

  • “My Voice, My Choice: A Practical Guide to Writing a Meaningful Healthcare Directive”; by Anne Elizabeth Denny; www.anneelizabethdenny.com
  • “LastingMatters Organizer: Where Loved Ones Find What Matters Most”; by Barbara Bates Sedoric: www.lastingmatters.com
  • “Caring for Dying Loved Ones: A Helpful Guide for Families and Friends”; by Joanna Lillian Brown; www.caringfordyinglovedones.com
  • “Caregivers: Angels Without Wings”; by Peg Crandall; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Changing the Way We Die: Compassionate End-of-Life Care and the Hospice Movement”; by Fran Smith and Sheila Himmel; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died”; by Karen B. Kaplan; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Spirit Matters: How to Remain Fully Alive with a Life-Limiting Illness”; by Judy Flickinger; www.judyflickinger.com
  • “Spiritual Perspectives on Death & Dying”; by Bernice H. Hill, PhD; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully: A Journey with Cancer and Beyond”; by Nancy Manahan and Becky Bohan; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Daddy this is it. Being-with My Dying Dad”; by Julie Saeger Nierenberg; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey Through Grief”; by Elaine Mansfield; www.elainemansfield.com
  • “Laughing in a Waterfall: A Mother’s Memoir”; by Marianne Dietzel; Link to Amazon.com
  • “Turn Right, Good Moon: Conversations With a Dying Mother”; by L. E. Moore; www.turnrightgoodmoon.com
  • “She Would Draw Flowers: Poems from a Young Artist Awakening to Life, Love and Death”; by Kirsten Savitri Bergh; Link to Amazon.com
  • “And Now, Still: Grave & Goofy Poems and a Bit of Prose”; by Reggie Marra; www.reggiemarra.com
  • “Facing Darkness, Finding Light: Life After Suicide”; by Steffany Barton, RN; Link to Amazon.com
  • “What to Do When You’re Dead: A Former Atheist Interviews the Source of Infinite Being”; by Sondra Sneed; Link to Amazon.com

I hope you’ll check out these amazing and inspirational books and include some of them in your book club or add them to your library!

 

Ep. 54 Film: Love in Our Own Time with Tom Murray

Join Dr. Karen Wyatt and her guest Tom Murray, director of the beautiful feature-length documentary Love in Our Own TimeThey will discuss the making of this film, which follows the lives of ordinary Australians as they face the big transitions of life: birth and death. “Love in Our Own Time is a film that speaks directly to its audience about the nature of life and death. It is a journey to the heart of what it is to be human that gives us all pause to question the lives we lead.” (from the film’s synopsis) Tom Murray reveals his own inspirations for creating the film and the transformation he experienced during the process.

In this interview you will learn:

  • How Tom Murray was inspired to create this film after living and working amongst the Yolngu Aboriginal people
  • How this film is being used in medical education settings to increase awareness about the end-of-life
  • How you might arrange a screening of Love in Our Own Time for your own community

Subscribe to End-of-Life University at http://www.eoluniversity.com so you can receive notification of all the fantastic new interviews on end-of-life issues.

Become a supporter of this podcast by making a donation of $1 or $2 per month at http://www.patron.com/eolu! Thanks!

Check out Dr. Wyatt’s books on Amazon:

Ep. 52 How to Start an End-of-Life Film Series in Your Community

Read the companion blog for this podcast here!

Today Dr. Wyatt shares some tips on starting a film series in your community to encourage conversations about death and dying. Movies are a great way to touch and inspire people and open their hearts and minds to new information. You can get your own film series by following the steps below:

  • Define your target audience – know who you want to serve with this information and how many people you anticipate might attend
  • Find partners – look for organizations in your community that can serve as donors or sponsors
  • Locate a venue – try to find a free space by asking one of your partners to donate the use of their facility
  • Decide what to charge – create a budget and find out if you will need to sell tickets for the event or can ask for donations instead
  • Create an event schedule – decide how long your event should be and whether or not you can include time for a discussion group, panel, or guest lecturer after the film; also choose the day and time for your event so you can book the venue in advance if this is an ongoing monthly series
  • Choose your films – consider both feature films and documentaries as you plan your schedule. Go to eoluniversity.com/films to view a list of suggested films for your series
  • Promote your event – ask your community partners to help you get the word out

Let me know if you decide to do a film series! I would love to hear it turns out!

Remember to go to Patreon.com/eolu if you are interested in supporting this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series with a small donation.

Tune in each Monday for a new episode and remember:

Face Your Fear.           BE Ready.             Love Your Life.

Ep. 51 The Truth About Advance Directives from a Doctor’s Perspective

In this episode Dr. Wyatt thanks her supporter Cathy Zheutlin who is a film producer currently making a documentary called “Living While Dying.” If you would like to support this podcast go to Patreon.com/eolu where you can make a donation of $1 or $2 per month to help defray the expenses of the podcast. Your name will be mentioned on the podcast as a thank you!

Dr. Wyatt discusses Advance Directives from a doctor’s point of view and relates stories about situations involving “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of this legal paperwork. The discussion includes:

  • AD’s are legal forms best applied to long-term situations and  can be helpful to prevent or terminate life-supporting care that is actually prolonging suffering and the dying process
  • we may wish that having AD’s in place will give us some measure of control over the circumstances of our death, but this is often not the case – there are many scenarios in which wishes cannot be carried out
  • AD’s are no substitute for having conversations with loved ones about our end-of-life wishes
  • be sure to communicate your wishes with everyone who might have a stake or concern about your dying process – make sure everyone hears the same message
  • update your loved ones whenever your wishes change
  • face your own fears of dying and of being kept alive in order to be extremely clear about your wishes – revisit these thoughts frequently
  • recognize that in the end circumstances may be out of everyone’s control and your wishes may not be followed. Find peace with that scenario and help alleviate any guilt your loved ones might carry if your wishes are not met.

Tune in next week for another episode of EOLU! Sign up for the End-of-Life University Interview series – 2 new interviews each month about all aspects of death and dying. Register here to be notified when the next interview is available.

Until next week:

Face Your Fears.          BE Ready.           Love Your Life.