End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 156 How to Talk to Strangers About Death & Dying

Learn some tips for starting important conversations about death with people you are meeting for the first time!

PodcastStrangers

 

IMG_4043In 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!)

 

Links to articles mentioned in this episode:

Tips for Talking With Your Loved Ones About the End of Life

How to Have Everyday Conversations About Death and Dying

How to Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About Your End-of-Life Wishes 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

You can still sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously online reading group and read one book each month about death, dying and the afterlife. Click here to learn more.

HealingChantsAlbumThis episode is sponsored by the album Healing Chants by Gia! You’ll love Gia’s angelic voice and ethereal music for meditation and relaxation. (Full disclosure: Gia is my daughter!)

You can listen to samples and purchase the album here.

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!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Until next time …

Face Your Fear            BE Ready              Love Your Life 

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End of Life, EOLPodcast, Grief

Ep. 117 Grief Yoga with Paul Denniston

Learn how the practice of yoga can help heal acute and chronic grief.

PodcastDenniston

ALDennistoncroppedIn this episode I share an interview with yoga teacher Paul Denniston who has created a special workshop for healing grief using yoga and movement. He’ll share stories of his own journey through grief and how his workshop is helping others.

Learn more about grief yoga.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

The Thanksgiving Holiday is approaching in the U.S. and I want to wish everyone a week of gratitude and generosity as we reflect on all that life has given us. My family will be celebrating with our Annual Thanksgiveaway: handing out care packages to the homeless. This is just a small gesture of kindness as a way of expressing our thankfulness for all of our blessings of the past year. I hope you too find a special way to share with others on this holiday!

downloads_wordmark_white_on_coralI am especially grateful for all of my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! Your generosity helps me feel connected to my audience and lets me know that you like the content I am creating. If you would like to become a patron you can sign up to contribute just $1 or $2 per month at Patreon.com/eolu.

Barbara McAfee has generously offered to share the following music video with all of us! She wrote the song Living Dying Man for her friend Jamie Showkeir as he faced the end of his life from ALS. Learn more at Barbara’s website: http://barbaramcafee.com

I hope you enjoy listening! Thank you Barbara for sharing with us!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

In this interview yoga teacher Paul Denniston will discuss:

  • his use of yoga as therapy for grief
  • how various types of yoga can help release grief that has been stored in the physical body
  • tips and strategies for moving through grief
  • why laughter yoga is especially healing.

Paul Denniston teaches Grief Yoga to bereavement groups in one of the largest hospices in Los Angeles, and has taught for several years at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. He offers techniques and exercises to therapists, counselors and health care professionals in the United States, England and Australia. Paul has studied with some of the world’s leaders in grief work, including David Kessler, William Worden and Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

Tune in every Monday for a new episode! If you enjoy this podcast please consider leaving a review on iTunes – it will be greatly appreciated!

Until we meet again remember …

Face Your Fear                 BE Ready               Love Your Life

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End of Life, EOLPodcast, Hospice

Ep. 104 Alternative Remedies for Pain

Learn about 10 alternative remedies that are helpful for chronic or terminal pain.

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In this episode I’ll share some insights about pain management from a recent blog I wrote in response to the opioid crisis in the U.S. I’ll cover 10 alternative remedies for pain that can be used alone or in conjunction with pain medication. Read the companion blog here (includes links to sources.)

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

If you missed “An Evening with Ira Byock MD” you can still sign up to listen to the replay. Just click here to submit your email address and you’ll receive the link to listen.

Patreonbecome2xThanks to all of my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu who generously contribute every month to help keep this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air! If you’d like to become a Patron for just $1 or $2 per month go to Patreon.com/eolu and join the fun! You’ll receive access to our monthly Hospice Happy Hour Q&A session, the Top 10 Interviews from EOLU, I’ll also promote your website, business, organization, book, etc. related to the end of life on this podcast.

In personal news, I’m busy preparing for my trip to Italy where I’ll be traveling for a month and writing a new book about grief. You can check out my travel plans on my Pinterest board and follow my journey on Instagram and Facebook.

FEATURED PRESENTATION:

The current opioid crisis in the U.S. has reached epidemic proportions and prescription drug-related deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities and gun deaths. This crisis has been  partly fueled by the pressure placed on physicians two decades ago to do a better job of treating pain. Since that time the trend has been for doctors to hand out prescriptions for powerful and addictive opioids for relatively moderate pain when those drugs should be reserved for intractable pain from serious or terminal illness.

As a response to this epidemic I discuss 10 alternative therapies which can help with pain management that can be used alone or in combination with medications. These remedies can decrease the need for drugs and will help improve wellbeing and decrease stress as well:

  1. Laughter
  2. Music
  3. Exercise and stretching
  4. Massage
  5. Guided imagery
  6. Coloring
  7. Deep breathing
  8. Loving relationships and sexual intimacy
  9. Prayer and meditation
  10. Emotional Freedom Techniques (E.F.T.)

I’ll discuss each alternative along with the science that supports its use. Hopefully we can learn to manage pain in ways that support overall health of the whole person.

Tune in next week for another episode! Until then …

Face Your Fear.                    BE Ready.                        Love Your Life.

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