Ep. 133 Journaling as a Practice for Living and Dying

Learn about the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of keeping a journal and why you should start doing it!

podcastjournaling

redjournalIn 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!

Click here to get the Journaling Starter Kit!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

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.

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

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.

If you want to try journaling for yourself get the Journaling Starter Kit and see where it takes you! Download the Starter Kit here!

Tune in next week for a new episode and please leave a review on iTunes if you enjoy this content!

Until next time remember:

Face Your Fear           BE Ready          Love Your Life

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Ep. 131 Embracing the Mystery of Death as We Plan for the Future

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.

PodcastMystery

giagemThis 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!

Check out the album here!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

You can still sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously and expand your consciousness about death by reading books throughout 2018! Sign up here.

Slide01Get the Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class then join our work group in March as we team up to help one another create our own unique classes!

Sign up for the guide here.

 

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!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

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.

Check out Gia’s new album – you’ll hear her beautiful song Evocation as this episode ends!!

Until next week:

Face Your Fear           BE Ready           Love Your Life

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Ep. 124 Graceful Passages: The Healing Power of Music with Gary Malkin

Learn from this Emmy-award winning composer how music is a form of “energy medicine” that can transform grief and the end-of-life experience.

PodcastMalkin

ALMalkincroppedIn this episode I share an interview with Gary Malkin, composer of the music for “Graceful Passages,” a CD used in hospices around the world to comfort the dying. Gary will discuss how music has the potential to heal on a physical, emotional and spiritual level and why healthcare should include the arts in the future.

Learn more at http://www.wisdomoftheworld.com

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS: 

A Year of Reading

You can still sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously and join our online reading group. For the month of January 2018 we are reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Sign up below to receive email notifications each month and to join our stimulating conversation on Facebook and by live conference call.

https://mailchi.mp/karenwyattmd/yearofreading

Patreonbecome2xAs always, support for this podcast comes from my donation page at Patreon.com/eolu. Thank you to all of my current donors who are helping to keep this show and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air. Special thanks this week goes to Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs for increasing her pledge to the Platinum level! If you’d like to contribute (as little as $1 per month) go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more.

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

This week I welcome Emmy winning composer Gary Malkin to talk about his CD for end-of-life transitions: Graceful Passages.

Key takeaways from this interview include:

  • How Gary composed the music for Graceful Passages and where the inspiration came from
  • How music can be used as a tool that calls people to be fully present and can be very helpful in end-of-life scenarios
  • Why music is helpful in times of grief
  • Why we should look for music that is “life-enhancing” or “positive intention” to have a soothing effect and create a response of relaxation
  • Science is documenting that music and other art forms can increase heart coherence, cause the release of oxytocin (the “love hormone”) and enhance immune function
  • Why periods of silence are important and how deep breathing and soft toning can help bridge the fear of silence

Thanks for tuning in! You’ll find a new episode every Monday so be sure to come back. Leave a review on iTunes if you enjoy this kind of content!

Until next week remember:

Face Your Fear           BE Ready             Love Your Life

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Ep. 111 Moments of Life Campaign: Hope Through Hospice with Anita Brikman

Learn how this program of the NHPCO is helping to change public perception of hospice.

PodcastMoments

Anita2014croppedIn this episode I share an interview with Anita Brikman, VP of Strategic Communications for the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO.) We will discuss the “Moments of Life” Campaign, which promotes public awareness of hospice and how choosing hospice at the end of life is not “giving up.”

Learn more at https://moments.nhpco.org

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the time of this broadcast I am still traveling through Italy and biking in the Puglia region! I’ll be gathering information and writing stories for a new book on grief.

You can follow photos of my journey on Instagram and Facebook if you are interested.

Patreonbecome2xAs always I am infinitely grateful to all of my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu who have been making monthly contributions to keep this show and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air! Your support means so much to me! If you would like to become a patron or learn more about it go to Patreon.com/eolu.

FEATURED PRESENTATION:

Anita Brikman and I will discuss the NHPCO’s public awareness campaign Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice. You’ll enjoy hearing about the creation of this beautiful campaign and how it might benefit you and your community. Watch this brief video about the campaign:

In this interview you will learn:

  • How the Moments of Life campaign is changing misperceptions about hospice care
  • How cultural barriers to hospice care are being broken down by the Moments of Life videos
  • What tools are avaiable on the Moments of Life website for patients and providers
  • How you can help spread the word about this campaign in your own community
  • How to submit a story to the NHPCO to be part of the campaign

Anita Brikman joined NHPCO in September of 2013 as the senior vice president of strategic communications and spokesperson for the national organization, which represents 1,600 hospice and palliative care providers with 3,400 locations across the United States, and more than 60,000 individual members. NHPCO’s affiliates, the National Hospice Foundation and Hospice Action Network, promote access to this end-of-life benefit and advocate to lawmakers and regulators about its vital importance to patients and families.

I hope you’ll visit Moments of Life and read or watch the beautiful stories of hospice patients there!

Thanks for tuning in and remember there will be a new episode every Monday! Until next week remember:

Face Your Fear                      BE Ready                     Love Your Life

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Ep. 109 Twenty Years of “Dying Well” – A Conversation with Ira Byock, MD

Learn from palliative care thought leader Dr. Ira Byock how end-of-life care has changed over the past 2 decades since his book “Dying Well” was published.

PodcastByock

IralaughingIn this episode I share a recent interview with Dr. Ira Byock that celebrates the 20th anniversary of his book Dying Well and features his wise perspective on end-of-life care “then and now.”

Learn more about Dr. Byock at www.irabyock.org.

Get Dying Well at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you listen to this broadcast I am currently in Italy–traveling and doing research for my new book on grief (also eating … a lot!) This episode has been pre-recorded (along with several others) so that there will be no interruptions in the podcast. If you want to see photos of my journey follow me on Instagram or Facebook.

Patreonbecome2xThis podcast is generously sponsored by donations on my page at Patreon.com/eolu. Thank you to all of my patrons–your support means everything to me!! Submit your questions for the next “Hospice Happy Hour” Q&A Session here and I’ll answer them next month. You can become a patron for just $1 or $2 per month and you’ll receive access to the Q&A recordings, the Top 10 Interviews from EOLU, and the opportunity to have your work promoted on this podcast. Go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more!

FEATURED PRESENTATION:

Read the transcript of this interview here:

EOLU17Byock

In this interview I will talk with Dr. Ira Byock about his groundbreaking book Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life which was published in 1997. We discuss:

  • How he first got interested in hospice care during his residency training
  • What inspired him to write Dying Well
  • How writing the book helped him heal his own grief over his father’s death
  • Changes he has seen in hospice and palliative care over the past 20 years (“the good, the bad, and the ugly”)
  • Where we should be focusing our efforts now to continue to improve the end of life for everyone
  • The upcoming Symposium on Palliative Care, Pain Management and Whole Person Care where Dr. Byock will be a presenter
  • Where to purchase Dying Well

Download the Readers Discussion Guide for Dying Well here.

Dr. Ira Byock is a leading palliative care physician, author, and public advocate for improving care through the end of life. He is the Founder and Chief Medical Officer for the Institute for Human Caring of Providence St. Joseph Health.

Tune in every Monday for a new episode of the podcast! If you enjoy this content please take a moment to leave a review on iTunes – it will help other listeners find the podcast.

Meanwhile remember ….

Face Your Fears.                       BE Ready.                      Love Your Life.

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Ep. 95 Deathbed Dreams & Visions: Review of Research with Chris Kerr MD

Learn how a fascinating research project with hospice patients is uncovering the mysteries of deathbed experiences.

BlogKerr

christopherKerrITIn this episode I will share an interview with hospice physician Chris Kerr MD who is conducting a research project on the dreams and visions of his patients as they near death. You’ll hear the results of his ongoing project and how this work is helping to inform medical professionals about the end-of-life experiences of their patients.

 

This podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series are supported in part through generous donations to my page at Patreon.com/eolu! This week I would like to thank Cathy Duke for her donation, along with all of the other patrons who have offered their support over the past year.

Patreonbecome2xAND all patrons will now be able to take part in a monthly “hangout” called Hospice Happy Hour as a thank-you gift for donating to the cause. When you become a patron you will receive email instructions for taking part in the call. Go to Patreon.com/eolu if you would like to make a donation (just $1 or $2 per month!)

In this interview hospice physician Dr. Christopher Kerr will share his research on deathbed visions and dreams of patients at the end of life. He will enlighten us about the potential for healing that resides in these experiences and why we should encourage patients to talk about them. We’ll discuss:

  • how he conducts his research project,
  • the nature of the dreams experienced by his patients
  • what he has learned from this work.

Christopher W. Kerr, MD is a practicing Internist in Buffalo, NY. Dr. Kerr graduated from Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine in 1989 and has been in practice for 27 years. He currently practices at Hospice Buffalo and is affiliated with Bertrand Chaffee Hospital, Erie County Medical Center and Gates Vascular Institute.

He recently entered the public forum with his extraordinary 2015 TED talk, and is frequently interviewed in the media about his work with the dreams and visions of the dying.

Tune in every Monday for a new episode of EOLU! Until next week remember:

Face Your Fears.                         BE Ready.                          Love Your Life.

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