End of Life, EOLPodcast, Spirituality

Ep. 212 The Dance of Life and Death – Part 4: Grace

Learn how to cultivate grace in both life and death. 

PodcastGrace

In this 4-part series of solo episodes I’m sharing wisdom about the intertwining of life and death in a perfect dance that spirals throughout eternity. Today I talk about grace, which is an essential element of any dance. Learn how the many different of meanings of grace apply to both life and death and discover a daily practice that can help us prepare for the end of life with ease and dignity.  These thoughts are derived from my book: What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying.

Get the book here.

Get the handout here:

GRACE

Listen here:

 

This episode includes:

  • The many definitions of “grace”
  • That grace is always given freely, not earned or deserved
  • How grace “finds us” during our darkest times of brokenness
  • Forgiveness as an act of grace
  • How I want to live and die with grace and gentleness
  • A daily practice to cultivate grace:
    • G – Gratitude
    • R – Release
    • A – Awareness
    • C – Compassion
    • E – Equanimity

I do not understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.

-Anne Lamott

Links mentioned in this episode:

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 supporters Hilary G. and Debi Schauss, your contributions mean  everything to me!

EOLPodcast, Grief

Ep. 205 Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One with Sarah Neustadter PhD

Listen to a personal and intimate conversation about suicide death and how to cope with the aftermath as a survivor.

PodcastNeustadter

My guest Sarah Neustadter PhD was studying psychology in graduate school when her boyfriend, a fellow student in the program, chose to end his life. Ten years later she has written a book to guide others through the complicated grief that follows suicide. In this conversation we share our own stories of grief and find insights together that we hope will be helpful to others on this path. Learn more about Sarah’s work at her website:

www.sarahneustadter.com

Neustadterbook

Get the book here.

Listen here.

 

This interview includes:

  • Why no amount of training can prepare you for the suicide death of a loved one
  • How grief after suicide differs from other types of grief
  • The stigmatization of suicide death in our society
  • How devastating guilt and regret follow a suicide
  • Why suicide survivors need to work on self-forgiveness
  • What might help on the journey of post-suicide grief:
    • Community
    • Physical touch or holding
    • Support with mundane tasks of daily life
    • Frequent check-ins from friends
    • Presence from others rather than words
    • Acknowledgment of the pain – even months and years later
  • Grief has its own timeline and can’t be rushed through
  • How writing can help us process grief and other difficult emotions
  • Sarah’s 3 categories of her own grief process:
    • Despair
    • Shifting
    • Beauty

Links mentioned in this episode:

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 – your contributions mean everything to me!

EOLPodcast, Grief

Ep. 198 Grief and Post-Traumatic Growth: Finding Wholeness After Loss with Sherry Cormier PhD

Learn about “post-traumatic growth” and how it is possible to thrive after experiencing loss and grief.

PodcastCormier

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:

http://sherrycormierauthor.com

sweetsorrowcormier

Get the book here.

Listen here.

 

This interview includes:

  • How talking about death helps with grief
  • Grief healing is not linear but cyclical
  • How grief survivors can thrive after traumatic loss
    • Find community
    • Self-care practices
    • Spiritual practices
    • Do and learn something new
  • Tips for helping a friend or loved one who is grieving
  • The outcome of  “post-traumatic growth”
    • Increased appreciation for life itself
    • New possibilities
    • Increased personal strength
    • More mindful of relationships
    • Spiritual growth
  • Who can benefit from reading her book Sweet Sorrow

Links mentioned in this episode:

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 Patron: Diane Roberts.

EOLPodcast, mortal wisdom, Spirituality

Ep. 193 The Thorn and the Rose: Pain as a Portal for Grace

Learn how to use challenges as a tool for growth and find grace in the midst of pain.

PodcastSuffering

In Part 7 of the Mortal Wisdom Series I’ll discuss how our greatest tragedies can ultimately lead us to growth through the gift of grace. As I prepare for the 30th anniversary of my father’s suicide death this week I share my thoughts on my own journey through grief. These are the lessons we can learn from our mortality and how to thrive in life while knowing that death awaits. Listen to Parts 1-6 first if you haven’t heard them yet!

Mortalwisdom

Listen here:

 

This episode includes:

  • How my father’s suicide changed the trajectory of my life
  • Why the remedy for pain is found “inside the pain” as Rumi wrote
  • There is no “other side” of the tunnel of grief
  • How our grief journey can only be viewed clearly in retrospect
  • How to “burn our pain as fuel”
  • The meaning of grace and how it arrives as a mystery
  • How sorrow prepares us for joy

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace–only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us. – Anne Lamott

Links mentioned in this episode:

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, Robyn Mott and Amy Wallace; and thank you to Christina Ensminger for increasing your monthly pledge!

 

EOLPodcast, mortal wisdom, Spirituality

Ep. 187 There’s No Time but the Present: How to be Right Here, Right Now

Learn how to make the most of the present moment and give the gift of presence to those you love.

PodcastPresence

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!

Mortalwisdom

Listen here:

 

This episode includes:

  • Presence is an essential skill for working with dying patients
  • Many dying patients seem to have a new-found ability to focus on the present and appreciate each moment
  • According to Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn presence is the ability to align body, mind, spirit, emotions in a single focus on the here and now
  • Being fully present with a patient or a loved one allows us to create a sacred space within which healing and transformation can occur
  • Steps for developing the skill of presence:
    • Create time (5 minutes) and space for stillness each day
    • Tune in to your physical body
    • Breathe deeply with intention
    • Allow emotions to arise without attaching to them
    • Let thoughts drift by
  • Practice total focus during small moments e.g. eating a special food, watching a sunset, listening to music, spending time in nature, being with a loved one
  • The experience of awe has these benefits
    • Greater humility (and less ego control)
    • Increased social harmony and interconnectedness
    • Improved immune health
    • Decreased anxiety
    • Increased wellbeing and happiness
  • Daily AWE Practice:
    • I am Awake in this moment
    • I am Willing to experience and accept whatever life brings in this moment
    • I am Engaged fully in living my life moment to moment

When someone is about to die, if you sit with him stably and solidly, that alone may be enough to help him leave this life with ease.

– Thich Nhat Hahn

Links mentioned in this episode:

PatreonMugShot

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!

EOLPodcast, mortal wisdom, Spirituality

Ep. 181 Why It’s Good to be Mortal and How to Celebrate It

Learn the lesson of impermanence and why it is essential for life.

PodcastImpermanence

This week begins a series I’ve titled Mortal Wisdom that will explore the lessons we can learn from our mortality and how to thrive in life while knowing that death awaits. Today is the lesson of impermanence … the fact that nothing lasts and everything changes, which is the ultimate reality of our mortal existence here on planet Earth, but also the reality of the entire Universe. I hope you enjoy the series!

Mortalwisdom

Listen here:

 

TaoThe TAO of Death is an adaptation of Lao Tzu’s 2000 year-old book of wisdom, the Tao Te Ching. In these simple yet profound verses you will learn to see death as a normal process in the cycle of life and discover how to live fully and fearlessly.

Find more joy, love and meaning in your life throughThe TAO of Death!

Available on Amazon in print and digital format.

 

 

Why It’s Good to be Mortal and How to Celebrate It

This episode includes:

  • The Buddhist concept of impermanence
  • How everything that is fleeting becomes more precious to us
  • Entropy – the 2nd law of thermodynamics – from the Greek word entropia, which means a turning toward or transformation
  • How life moves from order to disorder, structure to non-structure, physical form to energetic form or Soul
  • The benefits of mortality:
    • Creativity, growth and transformation are made possible
    • Even our suffering and pain will not last (“this too shall pass”)
    • This is the unifying characteristic of all humans on the planet: we all will die one day and we all grieve over our loved ones who have died
  • Rituals for getting comfortable with and honoring our impermanence
    • Contemplation and journaling using books like The Tao of Death
    • Observation of nature
    • Mandala creation
    • Flowing water ritual
  • We are here to dissolve into love, our ultimate destiny

My mandalas:

IMG_0146  IMG_0145

Links mentioned in this episode:

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 John Milloy, Victoria Jenkins, and Joanna D!

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

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

karen-signature

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Spirituality

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.

Podcast3Keys

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

karen-signature

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Spirituality

Ep. 99 Death as a Spiritual Practice

Learn how thinking about death every day can be the secret to peace of mind and joie de vivre.

PodcastSpiritualPractice

TaoIn this episode I share why and how I contemplate death as a daily spiritual practice. This practice has really been the “secret” behind my own spiritual growth.

You can read the blog post here and learn about the book and companion journal The Tao of Death here.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Next week I’ll be celebrating the 100th episode of this podcast! I’ll have a special guest on the show so stay tuned!

Upcoming events include:

Friday July 21st: Hospice Happy Hour Hangout for all of my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu

Sunday July 23rd: Virtual Death Cafe – 3 pm Pacific/6 pm Eastern (everyone welcome to join the conversation! Read more here.)

D2KDUSA(dot)com_red+blkTuesday August 8th is Dying to Know Day and I’ll be hosting a Virtual Death Cafe at 5 pm Pacific/8 pm Eastern. (More information at eoluniversity.com)

Iralaughing

An Evening With Ira Byock MD” to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking book Dying Well!

Monday August 21st

6 pm Pacific/9 pm Eastern

Registration information available soon. (Save the Date for now!)

 

FEATURE:

Here are the benefits I’ve received from my daily spiritual practice of death contemplation:

  • Gratitude for every moment of life
  • Restructured priorities
  • Taking responsibility for my life
  • Looking within myself for answers
  • Finding joy in being alive
  • Being prepared for anything!

TaoYou can use the book The Tao of Death as a guide for a daily practice of death contemplation. Simply read one verse each day, spend some time thinking about what it means for you, then write in your companion journal (available for free download here) about the question that accompanies the verse. When you finish the book you will be well on your way to a daily death contemplation practice that you can continue for years.

I hope you find that his practice enriches your life as much as it has mine! Send me a message and let me know how it’s going for you (email karen@karenwyattmd.com or Tweet me @spiritualmd.)

Tune in next week for #100! Until then:

Face Your Fears.                           BE Ready.                               Love Your Life.

karen-signature

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