End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 144 Tips for Caring for a Veteran at the End of Life

Learn how to provide appropriate and sensitive care to a veteran who is nearing the end of life.

PodcastVeteran

memorialdayToday’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.

 

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

A Year of ReadingCheck 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 here to 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!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

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
  • Nightmares
  • Sensitivity to certain sounds or sights
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Irritability
  • Anger outbursts
  • Isolation
  • 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.

Until next week:

Face Your Fear            BE Ready           Love Your Life

karen-signature

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Grief, Grief Travel

Ep. 141 Travel to Heal the Grief of War: Tips for a Pilgrimage

Learn how to create a pilgrimage to help you process the grief that follows the trauma of war.

 

PodcastNormandy

griefluggagelg2ED-1149289_1280In 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.

Read the companion blog here.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

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.

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

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.

(You can hear the entire Suicide Series at: www.eoluniversity.com/suicideseries )

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.

Tune in each Monday for a new episode and if you enjoy this content please consider leaving a review on iTunes!

Until next week remember ….

Face Your Fear             BE Ready             Love Your Life

karen-signature

 

EOLPodcast

Ep. 92 Suicide: Surviving the Aftermath: Part 8

Suicideblog_

The story of my long journey of healing after my father’s suicide death – told in a series of 8 episodes.

Part 8: The Fire Ceremony

candle-1379465_640

 

suicide lifelineIf you are currently experiencing a crisis or feeling hopeless please know that you are not alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free and confidential support available 24/7 for people in distress:

1-800-273-8255

or Text HELLO to 741-741.

This episode consists of:

  • What I’ve learned about my Dad through my investigations
  • The “Tapestry Dream” that changed how I saw everything in my life
  • The hard lessons I learned through hospice work
  • How I recognized that Dad had been my silent partner through all of my grief journey including writing the book What Really Matters
  • The Fire Ceremony: A ritual for healing my Dad’s trauma and my own
  • The song The Sun is Shining for You by Gia (used by permission)
  • Closing comments about this podcast and farewell
  • A message of hope for those grieving a suicide and for anyone who might be considering suicide at this time:

Please don’t give up. There is light in the darkness, there is love for you, there is grace. I have survived and I am here to spread hope.

Highest blessings and deepest love to you!

karen-signature

Please call 1-800-273-8255 for help if you are thinking about suicide.

Click here to talk with someone now.

suicideLogo-with-ribbon

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/end-of-life-university/id1033282990

Sign up here for the End-of-Life University mailing list. Visit the EOLU website.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 91 Suicide: Surviving the Aftermath: Part 7

Suicideblog_

The story of my long journey of healing after my father’s suicide death – told in a series of 8 episodes.

Part 7: Omaha Beach

omahabeach

suicide lifelineIf you are currently experiencing a crisis or feeling hopeless please know that you are not alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free and confidential support available 24/7 for people in distress:

1-800-273-8255

or Text HELLO to 741-741.

This episode consists of:

  • Exploring Dad’s memorabilia from World War II
  • How indigenous cultures hear the stories of their warriors in order to share in their pain
  • My travels to Iceland and Normandy to retrace Dad’s steps in World War II
  • What I learned about the pain of war on my journey
  • A healing dream about my Dad
  • A message of hope for those grieving a suicide and for anyone who might be considering suicide at this time:

Please don’t give up. There is light in the darkness, there is love for you, there is grace. I have survived and I am here to spread hope.

karen-signature

Please call 1-800-273-8255 for help if you are thinking about suicide.

Click here to talk with someone now.

suicideLogo-with-ribbon

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/end-of-life-university/id1033282990

Sign up here for the End-of-Life University mailing list. Visit the EOLU website.