Learn about “post-traumatic growth” and how it is possible to thrive after experiencing loss and grief.
My guest Sherry Cormier is a licensed psychologist and certified bereavement trauma specialist. She will share with us her personal encounters with loss and grief and how over the years she has managed to grow through her pain. We will also learn about her latest book Sweet Sorrow: Finding Enduring Wholeness After Loss and Grief. Learn more about her work at her website:
Learn how love can transform and heal our lives even during our last days.
In Part 6 of the Mortal Wisdom Series I’ll discuss how our broken hearts allow us to expand our capacity to carry and transmit pure Love. Throughout life we are broken open by love in many different ways and must learn to remain open to love rather than hardened and resistant to it so that we can find peace at the end of life.These are the lessons we can learn from our mortality and how to thrive in life while knowing that death awaits. Listen to Parts 1- 5 first if you haven’t heard them yet!
Learn the importance of forgiveness for moving forward in society, personal life, and spiritual growth.
In Part 5 of the Mortal Wisdom Series I’ll discuss why Forgiveness is an especially important skill to learn in the midst of our culture of constant outrage. We cannot solve today’s problems unless we learn how to lay down the bitterness and resentment that keep our energy stuck in the past.These are the lessons we can learn from our mortality and how to thrive in life while knowing that death awaits. Listen to Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 first if you haven’t heard them yet!
Join the team at Patreon.com/eoluand get access to the new EOLU mug (only Patrons can purchase it)!
If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on Patreon.com/eolu, especially my new Patrons, Mary Ellen Shea and Jan Wessell and to Licha Kelley-King for upping your pledge!
Learn how to make the most of the present moment and give the gift of presence to those you love.
In Part 4 of the Mortal Wisdom Series I’ll discuss how to develop the skill of Presence to use in your personal life and work. Presence is the secret of living fully in every moment and you’ll learn how to enhance your ability to stay focused and present in day-to-day life. These are the lessons we can learn from our mortality and how to thrive in life while knowing that death awaits. Listen to Parts 1, 2, and 3 first if you haven’t heard them yet!
Learn how to find more clarity about your life’s purpose and why it’s not just about choosing the right career path.
In Part 3 of the Mortal Wisdom Series I’ll discuss the lesson of Purpose and how we can unravel the mystery of why we are here in this sometimes crazy world.These are the lessons we can learn from our mortality and how to thrive in life while knowing that death awaits. Listen to Parts 1 and 2 first if you haven’t heard them yet!
If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on Patreon.com/eolu, especially my new patrons and faithful donors Lynda Richardson, Molly Byock, and Jozie Rabyor!
Learn some helpful advice for being a caregiver for a patient with dementia.
Today I talk with Kathy Flora who has served as her mother’s caregiver as she has journeyed through dementia. Kathy shares her wisdom and advice for those who find themselves in a similar role with a parent or other loved one. She is the author of the book “Walking My Momma Home: Finding Love, Grace, and Acceptance Through the Labyrinth of Dementia.” Learn more at Kathy’s website:
Learn about the “science of generosity” and why a giving spirit helps us through even the most difficult times.
I learned to practice generosity from both of my parents at a young age and those experiences have shaped how I’ve lived my life. I’ll share some stories and talk about important research on generosity compiled by the Greater Good Science Center, including the benefits of giving to others no matter what we are facing in our personal lives.
Everything I know about generosity today I learned from my parents who grew up during the depression and mastered the art of giving to others in life-changing ways.
They showed me that it’s possible to be generous even during times of suffering–a lesson that was repeatedly demonstrated during the devastating November fires in Northern and Southern California this year.
Far from being frivolous or superfluous, human generosity might be deeply embedded in human behavior and play a vital role in our personal well-being and survival as a species. – Greater Good Science Center
This discussion includes:
The story of Dad’s winter coat
How Dad changed lives one broken-down car at a time
The story of Boris, his paintings and my Mom
Research findings from the Greater Good Science Center white paper “The Science of Generosity”
We are wired for generosity
Generosity is contagious
The value of role-models for generosity
The physical and emotional benefits of giving
How money can buy happiness
Generosity as a buffer for stress during difficult times
Wishing you the happiness of giving during this holiday season!
In this episode I share an interview with Cheryl Jones, host of the Good Grief Radio Show, therapist and author of the newly-released novel An Ocean Between Them. We talk about the important subject of meeting the needs of members of the LGBTQ community at the end of life, which is part of the story told in her new book. Learn about Cheryl’s work here.
I’ll be leaving for Spain in just a few days! While I’m traveling you will be able to listen to a 4-part series on Palliative Care during this podcast so you won’t miss a single episode! If you’re interested you can follow my photos on Instagram at kwyattmd!
A HUGE THANK YOU to my latest supporters on Patreon.com/eolu: Lisa Milton, Debbie Hall and Christine Hazard Phillips. Your contributions are greatly appreciated and help keep this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series on the air. Join the team to get special bonus content!
CSU Institute for Palliative Care is holding a National Symposium on Palliative Care in San Diego October 11-12. Go to CSUpalliativecare.org to learn more.
My guest Cheryl Jones is a grief counselor, host of the Good Grief Radio Show on VoiceAmerica, and the author of the newly-released novel An Ocean Between Them. We will discuss the challenges that LGBTQ people experience in receiving care at the end of life and ways to make our organizations and facilities more inclusive.
In this interview you will learn:
Why members of the LGBTQ community access less healthcare than the general populatioN
Obstacles faced by LGBTQ individuals in receiving care in residential facilities, hospices, hospitals
Why a durable medical power of attorney is an essential document for all LGBTQ individuals
How the organization SAGE advocates for LGBTQ seniors
How to find common ground in end-of-life care even when we don’t agree on lifestyle choices
About post-traumatic growth and why it’s important to foster
Ways to create an LGBTQ-supportive environment in your organization or business
About Cheryl’s novel that addresses the challenges of LGBTQ relationships with family at the end of life
Cheryl Jones is the host of the radio show Good Grief. She is also a grief counselor and cancer educator. During her education as a Marriage and Family Therapist, her first wife was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, which was at the time a uniformly terminal illness with a six month to one year prognosis. In the eight + years that followed, Cheryl engaged daily in the work of preparing for her death. She received training during this period from Stephen and Ondrea Levine (Who Dies and Grieving Into Life and Death) and Richard Olney (founder of Self-Acceptance Training). After her wife’s death, Cheryl immersed herself in her own multifaceted grief, surprised by frequent moments of joy.
Cheryl is a consultant and group leader at the Free Therapy Program of the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, where she developed, manages and teachies in their Continuing Education program. She has trained extensively with Erving Polster, leader in the field of gestalt therapy and author of Everybody’s Life is worth a Novel. She was Clinical Director at the Alternative Family Project, which served the therapeutic needs of LGBTQ families in San Francisco. Finally she is the author of the recently published novel: An Ocean Between Them.
In this episode I share my thoughts on how to approach the very difficult task of making an end-of-life decision about the treatment a loved one should receive. Many people are called upon to be decision-makers in these challenging situations and this episode serves as a guide for choosing the best option for someone we love.Download the handout below:
This episode is sponsored by Suzanne O’Brien and her training program for caring for others at the end of life at Doulagivers.com and by your generous donations on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Join the team and receive special bonuses as a thank-you!
Thank you to all of my patrons and sponsors! Your support means everything to me!
Every day families are called upon to make nearly impossible decisions about the type of care a loved one should receive as they near the end of life. Here are some suggestions for how to navigate this challenging situation when there is no advance directive available for guidance:
Gather medical information from all healthcare providers involved in care
Ask direct questions:
What is the diagnosis and what complications have occurred?
What is the effectiveness of the recommended treatment?
What are the chances for recovery or improvement?
Are there side effects from the treatment or will it cause additional suffering?
What will happen if treatment is stopped?
What would you do if this were your loved one?
Get expert advice and guidance from a palliative care team if available in your hospital
Remember past conversations with your loved one that might give you clues as to his or her preferences for the end of life
Consider the statistics that most Americans prefer to die at home and most do not want aggressive treatment to prolong life in the face of an incurable condition
Ask your loved one for guidance by expressing your concern and your desire to make the best decision. Even though your loved one cannot verbalize, they can hear you – listen for any intuitive or “felt” guidance that might come to you about the best choice to make.
Be gentle with yourself and recognize that you have done your best in a challenging situation
Seek support from others outside your family
Tune in next week for another episode! Share this content with others who might it helpful and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
This episode is sponsored by my book What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying. This book focuses on the spiritual lessons I learned from my dying patients and how they changed my life!
Learn some tips for starting important conversations about death with people you are meeting for the first time!
In this episode I’ll share with you some stories about my recent yoga retreat and the many amazing conversations I was able to have with strangers about death and dying. I’ve got a few tips for you about starting up your own conversations about death with random strangers. (Here’s a photo from a sunrise hike I took during the retreat!)
Stay tuned to the end of the podcast as I’ll play her song Evocation as the Outro today!
A HUGE THANK YOU to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Karen Van Hoof! I appreciate your support very much. Thanks also to all of the other patrons – sign up and join the team for as little as $1 per month at Patreon.com/eolu!
Today I’ll tell you about my recent 5-day retreat at a yoga center where I went to relax, do yoga and finish revising one of my books. While I was there I had the pleasure of talking with many other visitors to the retreat center about death and dying, which was fascinating. Normally I don’t find many people out in the general public who want to talk about death. And while the people I conversed with weren’t necessarily interested in death before our discussion they each seemed to come away with a new understanding or sense of peace.
In order to confront our society’s fear of death we need many more conversations like this to happen every day with people who are not already tuned in to death awareness.
Each of us needs to step up and reach out to others to start a dialogue about death that might prove very helpful to our conversation partner and very informative for us.
Here are my tips for talking with strangers about death and dying:
Choose the right time and place: my conversations generally took place at the table while I was sharing a meal with various strangers. Breaking bread together creates an automatic sense of connection and safety since we usually associate mealtimes with positive feelings. There is also often some free time between courses where conversation can happen naturally. It may also work well to talk about death during other shared activities like hiking, gardening or cooking. Watch for the right opportunity to arise.
Find common ground first: make sure you have established a basic connection by talking about the meal (or the garden, or the hike, etc.) Since my conversation partners were also there for yoga classes we had an automatic common subject to begin chatting about while we established a connection.
Perfect your “elevator speech” which is a very brief story you tell whenever someone asks “What do you do?” The idea is that your answer is so brief you can complete it during a short elevator ride from one floor to the next. So think of one or two sentences you can use to answer that question and give another person an idea of your work. My answer at the yoga retreat was: “I’m a retired hospice physician who now writes books.” Tell them enough to garner their interest and curiosity and lead naturally to more questions. I purposely avoided mentioning death and dying in my initial introduction so that I wouldn’t frighten anyone away before we even got started. But most individuals I encountered were intrigued and asked more either about the hospice work or about the books I’m writing. Both of those questions led directly to a talk about death and dying. On several occasions the other person immediately brought up a story of a loved one or friend on hospice. Many times it was a story that desperately needed to be told and also came with questions about death, dying and hospice. I was amazed by the quality of conversation that occurred in these instances and the need for accurate information. I’m convinced that many people out there really do need to talk about death and dying but rarely encounter anyone they can speak to, which is where you come in!
Hone your listening skills: for these conversations focus on listening rather than telling your own story. Watch for cues from the other person that there is a need to say something and encourage them to talk by asking a question or two and stopping to listen attentively. We are all passionate about our work and other endeavors and there will be opportunities to share that at some point in the future. Initially it’s more important to just listen and hold space so that the other person can ask questions and get the support they need. Rely on your intuition to tell you when that person is ready for a little nudge or encouragement to go deeper into their feelings.
Share just enough information: again it is important to be a good listener so when you do describe your work don’t go overboard. Use simple and accurate terms to convey what you do but pause and allow the other person to ask for the information they need.
As you’ll hear when you listen to this episode I was able to have meaningful conversations with different people every day while I was at the retreat. These are some of the most important discussions we can be having right now so take a chance and strike up a conversation with a stranger about death and dying!
There will be a new episode every Monday so be sure to tune in again! And if you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
Learn about a humorous one-woman play that inspires audiences to discuss their fears about dying and death.
In this episode I share an interview from the archives with actress Judith Gantly who presents a one-woman play titled “Waltzing the Reaper.” We discuss the benefits of compelling theatre for inspiring an audience to talk about end-of-life issues.
Learn more about Judith’s work and “Waltzing the Reaper”here.
On July 24th I’ll be hosting a free webinar with Suzanne O’Brien RN on End-of-Life Doula Training for Caregivers and Volunteers. She will share the Level I training she offers to community members who want to learn how to care for their families and neighbors at the end of life. There will be a Q&A session with Suzanne following the webinar and you will receive the replay if you can’t attend live. Stay tuned for registration information!
Thank you to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Nancy Walker! Your generosity is greatly appreciated. If you’d like to join the team of patrons who are chipping in each month to keep End-of-Life University on the air go to Patreon.com/eolu to sign up and learn about the bonuses you’ll receive as a supporter.
Judith Gantly presents the one-woman play “Waltzing the Reaper” for hospices, medical schools, and communities all around the country. She is available to travel to your event if you would like to incorporate theatre as a way to inspire your community to engage in conversations about dying and death.
You will learn:
The story portrayed in Waltzing the Reaper
Why theatre is a powerful tool for inspiration
How the hearts and minds of the audience members are opened during a live performance on stage
Why the content of this play stimulates discussion
How audiences come together through the shared experience of viewing a play
How to contact Judith about bringing Waltzing the Reaper to your community
Learn about a beautiful documentary film that you can include in a community workshop on home funerals and green burial.
In this episode I share a “legacy interview” with two of the directors of the documentary film “A Will for the Woods” – Amy Browne and Brian Wilson. This is one of my favorite films and I encourage you to consider bringing it to your community for a screening and discussion about home funerals and green burial.
Sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously online reading group for 2018 here.
This episode is sponsored by my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu. Thank you today to Holly Randall for increasing your monthly pledge! I appreciate all of the donors who have been chipping in over the past year-and-a-half to keep this podcast on the air! You can join the team for as little as $1 per month at Patreon.com/eolu.
Filmmakers Amy Browne and Brian Wilson discuss their award-winning film, A Will for the Woods, the story of a man near the end of his life who prepares for his own green burial. This film has been named “One of the 9 documentaries you must see this year” by the TED blog and has won numerous awards at film festivals around the country. In this interview you will learn:
what inspired 4 young filmmakers to spend 4 years filming this end-of-life journey
what the movie teaches us about death and burial customs
how this film can change the funeral industry
how to plan your own green burial and create a “green will”
Co-Director/Producer, Amy Browne, grew up in Australia and moved to New York City to study theater at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and film at The New School University. Her film credits include Associate Producer for Crazy & Thief (LA Film Festival 2012) and I Used to be Darker (Sundance 2013), as well as work on The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (Berlinale & Tribeca 2011). She also recently commenced work as the Producer on upcoming documentary As Worlds Divide. When her sister Sophie introduced her to the concept of green burial, which connects the profundity and beauty of nature with the cycle of death and life, Amy was inspired to further explore the idea through film.
Co-director/Editor, Brian Wilson, graduated from Brown University with a degree in Comparative Literature and History, and works as an editor in New York. Passionate about the natural world and its protection and restoration, he is pleased to be exploring and raising awareness about green burial with A Will for the Woods. He became interested in developing deeper insight into death after his mother died in 2008, and has been grateful to find it through working on this project, which he hopes will offer similar comfort and understanding to many viewers.
Learn how a skeptical psychologist began receiving messages through channeled writing from his son after his tragic death.
In this episode I share an interview with psychologist Matt McKay PhD who tells how he began receiving messages after his son’s death that taught him about spirituality here in this life and in the afterlife. Matt shares his suggestions for communicating with those “on the other side.”
You can get it hereon Amazon in print, ebook and audiobook formats!
THANK YOU to all of my current patrons on Patreon.com/eolu! Your support means everything to me! If you’d like to join in and help support this podcast for as little as $1 per month go to Patreon.com/eolu and check it out!
In this presentation clinical psychologist Dr. Matthew McKay will share the story of his son Jordan and how he sought to connect with Jordan after his death. He will teach us how to communicate with our own loved ones who have died.
Dr. McKay offers these suggestions for starting your own practice of channeled writing:
Get grounded and centered
Have a physical object that connects you to your loved one
Use a candle or other visible object to focus your gaze
Become more receptive bu using mindfulness, self-hypnosis, breathing techniques
Have a special notebook handy
Write down a question for the loved one you would like to communicate with
Wait for words to form in your mind and immediately write down anything that arises, without judging or questioning it
Acknowledge your doubt but don’t be paralyzed by it
Remember there will be a new episode every Monday! If you enjoy this content please consider leaving a review on iTunes and sharing it with others.
Learn how mothers and daughters cope with their changing roles as the end of life nears.
In this episode I share an interview with Kate Riley, author and death midwife, about our own relationships with our mothers and how they changed as we provided care to them at the end of life. Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers out there listening!
Thank you to my latest sponsor on Patreon.com/eolu: Marilyn Stoner. Thank you for support and thanks to all of my patrons – I appreciate your generosity very much!!
This episode is brought to you by my course Get Over it For Good: Healing the Hidden Wounds of Childhood. Learn to get over events from the past that keep you stuck and unable to grow. This is a self-study course that helps you identify your hidden wounds and discover the wisdom you can gain from them. Platinum supporters on Patreon.com/eoluwill receive a 30% discount on the course! Learn more about the course here.
My guest Kate Riley and I discuss the joys and challenges of daughters who care for their mothers at the end of life. Kate was the caregiver for her mother during the last 9 months of her life and shares her insights about that process.
In this interview you will learn:
The ups and downs of the caregiver journey
The benefits of presence at the end of life
How meditation helps with preparation for death
Death has its own mysterious timing
The pain of letting go of our mothers and being let go of by them
How caregiving helps us heal our relationships
Advice for daughters caring for their mothers
Kate Riley is a certified death midwife, minister, international story consultant, author and educator. She began private practice in compassionate end-of-life care after completing hospice training in the late 1980s. She serves as a liaison for individuals facing end-of-life decisions, working with their families and medical teams in providing a more person-centered approach. She encourages and supports those who want to take a conscious, active role in their own dying process. She is the author of The Green Velvet Journals and Launching Vee’s Chariot: An End-of-Life Tale. Kate lives in the Wood River Valley of Idaho—a great place to find balance in all of life’s stages. Her advanced training includes death midwife/doula certification through Final Passages and current enrollment in the California State University Palliative Care Chaplaincy program.
Remember to tune in every Monday for a new episode! If you enjoy this content please consider leaving a review on iTunes. Until next week:
Learn about the impact of unspoken grief on a young child after the death of a parent and why we need to do a better job addressing grief with children.
In this episode I share an interview with Rachel Stephenson, an author, speaker and educator, who shares the story of her mother’s sudden death when she was 5 years old and the lasting impact it has had on her and the lives of her family. Rachel’s TEDx Talk on the same subject has attracted a lot of attention and points out why we need to address grief and loss with children.
Watch Rachel’s TEDx Talk:
Sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously reading group here and join us to read books about death, dying and the afterlife all year long!
Tune in to the 4-part webinar series Demystifying Palliative Carehere and learn all about the palliative care team members and their roles.
This episode is being sponsored by Gia’s Healing Chants Album – you’ll hear a selection at the very end of this episode. Click hereto learn more and purchase the album.
My guest is Rachel Stephenson, whose blog “Dear Dead Mother” and recent TEDx Talk have captured a great deal of attention online. We explore the process of grief, particularly for a young child who loses a parent, and how childhood grief differs from that experienced by adults. Rachel is passionate about opening the conversation about grief and loss.
In this interview you will learn:
the dangers of grieving in silence as perceived by Rachel
the experience of suddenly losing a parent through the eyes of a young child
what needs to change in our societal conversation about death
how to talk to a child about a death in the family
Rachel Stephenson is a writer, speaker, educator, and university administrator who is living fully with grief. She is currently the University Director of the CUNY Service Corps at The City University of New York, and her professional experience includes designing and implementing innovative experiential education programs in civic engagement, workforce development, and youth development; writing interactive curricula; facilitating/emceeing professional development workshops and special events; fundraising; and more at a range of educational institutions and non-profit organizations in New York City. She is married with three daughters. Though Rachel has not spent her career in the world of grief and bereavement, she has spent her life thinking about her own grief – her mother died suddenly when Rachel was five – and knowing that she would one day revisit her own story to connect with others about navigating loss.
Learn how answering just one question can simplify your decision-making process for end-of-life planning.
In this episode I’ll share how one simple question helped clarify my Mom’s end-of-life wishes and why I recommend starting there to put your own advance care planning into the proper perspective. This episode is sponsored by my course “Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning.“
You can still join my online reading group for 2018 “A Year of Reading Dangerously” and read a book each month on death, dying and the afterlife. Sign up here.
Thank you to all of my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! Your donations mean a lot to me!
Putting our wishes for the end of life into writing is more complicated than it seems. We can easily get lost when we start to consider all of the options available and make decisions about what we do or do not want for care during out last days.
When my mother was trying to complete her living we finally found a simple way to clarify what really mattered to her. I asked her to tell me how she wanted it to be when she was taking her last breaths in this life. And she answered right away: “I want to be in my own home with you taking care of me.”
That one question changed everything for us and her answer guided all of the decisions that we made together as a family for the next five years before her death. I have spent time thinking about the one question myself and it is clear to me that the only thing that will really matter to me when I am ready to die is love. I will want to be as near as possible to the people I love.
You can use this one question too:
Imagine your last moments of life: how do you want it to be?
Describe what you see in positive terms first: Who is with you? Where are you?
Keep it simple to avoid being overwhelmed. Just a few details are all you need to describe.
Finally add your 2-3 absolute DO-NOT’s to the picture. What do you definitely NOT want to have happen during your last moments? Again – limit the number to those things you feel strongest about. Your family will remember 2-3 requests but not 10-12.
Start talking now about your positive vision for your final moments and let your family know what you envision. When you engage them in your vision they are more likely to help you create it. They will have had time to think about your vision and to imagine themselves being part of it.
No matter what start thinking about the end of life now. It’s never too soon to get your plans in order! Consider signing up for the Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning if you’d like to have a doctor by your side as you make decisions for yourself!
Learn how grief over the death of loved one is compounded by other losses that occur simultaneously.
In this episode I share a conversation with Rev. Terri Daniel about the “other grief” that occurs throughout life with or without the death of a loved one. We’ll talk about this hidden grief and why it is important to acknowledge it as an important part of life.
It’s not too late to sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously and join us in reading books about death, dying and the afterlife throughout 2018! Learn more and sign up here.
Thank you to all of the donors who are contributing to my page at Patreon.com/eolu each month! It makes a huge difference and I’m very grateful! Thank you to Suzanne O’Brien RN and Doulagivers.com for being a “legacy supporter” for the past 18 months!
In this interview Rev. Terri Daniel and I talk about the big picture of grief throughout life’s transitions and how it often goes unnoticed as we focus primarily on grief after a death occurs. We talk about:
Continuing Bonds Theory
“Other” types of loss
Four additional types of grief
The need for ritual and ceremony to process grief
Are there avoidable vs. unavoidable losses?
Rev. Terri Daniel is a clinical chaplain and end-of-life educator certified in death, dying and bereavement by the Association of Death Education and Counseling. Her work focuses on assisting dying and grieving individuals to discover a more spiritually-spacious understanding of loss and trauma.
Remember to tune in every Monday for a new episode and please leave a review on iTunes if you enjoy this content!
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.
This 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!
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!
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.
Learn how our 100-year history of ignoring death has led to a death-phobic society and the consequences we face as individuals.
In this episode I share my thoughts on the negative effects, for individuals and for society in general, of our dysfunctional relationship with death. This topic leads into my theme for 2018: Death Education for Everyone, which you’ll be learning more about in upcoming episodes!
There’s still plenty of time to join the year-long reading group for 2018: A Year of Reading Dangerously. We just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air for January and are moving on to Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty for our February selection. Click here to join the reading group!
Huge thanks to all of my current supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! I appreciate your generosity very much and also the emotional and spiritual support I derive from knowing that you are listening and that you care about the work I’m doing!
For the past century we here in the U.S. (and other developed nations, as well) have been gradually slipping into a state of ignorance about death. With the rise of modern medicine and the funeral industry, death has been removed from the home and from day-to-day life, allowing us to shove death into the far reaches of consciousness and to deny to ourselves that it exists.
But death is an essential component of life that cannot be ignored without causing some negative consequences. Today I’ll talk about these factors that result from ignoring death:
We think there’s always more time
We forget that life is fragile
We don’t cherish our relationships
We don’t appreciate change
We are unable to find meaning in life
We don’t live life fully
Here are the quotes I included in today’s discussion:
“Man … lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama
“Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” – Steve Jobs
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is true and important.” – Steve Jobs
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” – Norman Cousins
“Many people die at twenty-five and aren’t buried until they are seventy-five.” – Benjamin Franklin
So commit to start recognizing the presence of Death in your life every day until you can embrace and appreciate Death as a necessary component of Life. Then go out and start teaching other people to do the same thing!
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