EOLPodcast

Ep. 357 The Hidden Grief of the Replacement Child with Jeremy Damec

My guest Jeremy Damec has a master’s in Counseling Psychology and has worked with youth and families in San Francisco and in Mexico providing therapeutic services and developing community programs to support family and youth development. After his mother’s death from cancer in 2009 and following his own personal journey of grief, he began in 2015 working with families and their loved ones who are approaching the end of life. He has done volunteer chaplaincy training, end-of-life doula training, worked at a funeral home, and as a celebrant has officiated at both funerals and weddings. Today he shares his personal experience as a “replacement child” born after the death of his older brother. Learn more about Jeremy’s work at his website:

www.jeremydeathandgrief.com

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What is a “replacement child”
  • Jeremy’s story of being introduced to grief before he was born
  • How a replacement child experiences grief
  • How a mother’s grief can influence her unborn child
  • How to process unspoken and hidden grief that has been present since before birth
  • How to find information about a loved one who died in the past
  • How being a replacement child has shaped and informed the work Jeremy does now

Links mentioned in this episode:

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Donate on Paypal

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially to my newest donors Erin Bishop, Carole Dempsey, and Sue Skeates! Also thank you to C. Schlumberg and Frances Pope Hewitt for making donations through Paypal. Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 356 What Keeps Me Up at Night (about Hospice and Palliative Care) with Ira Byock MD

Dr. Ira Byock takes an honest and challenging look at worrisome issues within the hospice and palliative care field.

My guest today is Dr. Ira Byock who 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. He is a frequent guest on this podcast and the author of Dying Well, The Four Things that Matter Most, and The Best Care Possible. Today he shares some of the concerns he has about current issues in hospice and palliative care. Learn more about his books and his work at the website:

www.irabyock.org

Watch on YouTube

Read the transcript

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • The history of hospice programs and how and why they began
  • For-profit hospices now outnumber non-profit hospices by nearly 3 to 1
  • Problems with for-profit hospices include poor staffing, patients are less likely to see a doctor or social worker, 10% fewer nursing visits
  • For-profits extract up to 20% margin from patient care and make it hard for non-profits to stay in business
  • Concerns about sending patients home for hospice care without providing training to family members
  • Staff are burning out because of moral distress and because of excessive case loads which are being imposed for the sake of profit
  • For-profit hospices are being traded on Wall Street and private equity firms are also buying up hospices
  • How a focus on marketing and “branding” is causing palliative care to distance itself from hospice and from death and dying
  • Why we have to be brave enough to talk about and deal with the things that people in our society are afraid of
  • Why the palliative care “brand” should be providing the best care possible through the end of life (instead of “at the end of life”)
  • What to do:
    • Don’t trust blindly – ask questions and be discerning
    • Don’t lose your outrage – speak up when you see poor care being given
    • Be strong advocates for one another
    • Support community-based non-profit hospices

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Pre-order All the Flowers of the Mountain by Christina Holbrook here (and thank you!)

Buy me a coffee

Donate on Paypal

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially to my newest donor Mary E. Moriarty! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 355 Irish Keening and Wakes: Traditional Mourning Rituals with Mary McLaughlin

Learn about the history and importance of Irish mourning rituals.

My guest Mary McLaughlin is a singer/songwriter and teacher who studies and teaches workshops about Irish singing and technique and Gaelic song and culture. She has recorded five CD’s to international acclaim, written two song books and completed a PhD in Irish Otherworld Song. Today she teaches us about Irish wakes and the ancient funeral ritual of keening. Learn more at her website:

www.marymclaughlin.com

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • The ancient tombs found in Ireland and what we can learn from them
  • Many contemporary funeral traditions have been influenced by both Christian and Pagan customs
  • Wakes thrived during the Middle Ages in the early Celtic Church but were later forbidden
  • “Professional waking” used to take place in small Irish villages
  • The purpose of the wake is to help people cry and mourn, sometimes through laughter and games
  • Keeners had to be good singers and specially trained to provide this ritual for wakes
  • The benefits of having keeners be outsiders to help the family express emotion, move into their grief, and create a sense of awe
  • The keen would continue from the wake through to the burial ground
  • The three stages of ritual: separation, liminality, and re-incorporation
  • How the keen addresses the 5 stages described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Pre-order All the Flowers of the Mountain by Christina Holbrook here (and thank you!)
  • Recommended Book: My Father’s Wake by Kevin Toolis
  • Sign up for Mary’s newsletter here

Buy me a coffee

Donate on Paypal

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially to my newest donor JoAna Dwyer! Also thank you to Mark Langlois for buying me a coffee (3, in fact)! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 354 The Hospice Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide with Barbara Karnes RN

Learn about the basics of hospice care, when to consider it, how to talk about it with others, and what to expect during the dying process.

My guest Barbara Karnes RN is an internationally recognized author, speaker, thought leader and expert on end of life care. She is the author of the “little blue hospice book” Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience, which has sold over 30 million copies worldwide in 12 different languages. Today Barbara shares her insights and stories about the hospice journey for patients and their families and walks us through each step of the process. Learn more about her work at her website:

www.bkbooks.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • When is it time to consider hospice
  • Why hospice care is a special type of medical care
  • How to find a good hospice
  • What it takes to care for a loved one at home
  • What hospice does and doesn’t provide for families
  • How to talk to a loved one about hospice
  • What to expect as death draws near
  • How hospice provides comfort and pain management

Links mentioned in this episode:

Buy me a coffee

Donate on Paypal

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially to Jan Wessel for increasing your pledge! Also thank you to Thilda Zorn for your Paypal donation and Bob Hoffman for buying me a coffee! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 353 The Rebellious Widow: Love and Life After Loss with Jill Johnson-Young

Learn practical tips for navigating the caregiving journey and grief after the death of a spouse.

My guest Jill Johnson-Young is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked in hospice and as a therapist specializing in grief, loss, dementia, and trauma. She shares her personal journey as a caregiver for two spouses and as a “double widow” along with helpful tips for grief and how to break the “widow rules.” She is the author of numerous books about grief for adults and children including her most recent The Rebellious Widow: A Practical Guide to Love and Life After Loss. Learn more at her websites:

www.therebelliouswidow.com

www.jilljohnsonyoung.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • The “widow rules” and why they need to be challenged
  • How society judges grievers rather than allowing them to take their own unique path
  • How anticipatory grief helped with her process of grief after death
  • The importance of fostering intimacy for couples who are facing death (making “body memories”)
  • How medical and hospice providers often overlook the needs of the caregiver
  • What to say to couples dealing with a terminal illness
  • Why couples should discuss the caregiver’s future after death
  • Setting boundaries and asking for help as a caregiver
  • How she found “helpers” to connect with her children and watch over them during the dying process and funeral
  • The jarring moment when a diagnosis is received for both patient and caregiver
  • Challenges facing same-sex couples as they access care
  • Humor as self-preservation for medical staff and caregivers

Links mentioned in this episode:

Buy me a coffee

Donate on Paypal

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest patrons Janis Wiebking and Robin Blanche! Also thank you to Francis Pope Hewitt for your Paypal donation! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 352 Cross-Cultural End-of-Life Practices with Gary Wederspahn

Learn about fascinating end-of-life rituals from cultures around the world.

My guest Gary Wederspahn is a board member of the Final Exit Network and the author of a book and many articles on cross-cultural communications and relations. He has served as a Peace Corps Director in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Ecuador and has traveled in over 20 countries. He shares his passion for studying end-of-life rituals and traditions wherever he has traveled, including slides from many different countries. Learn more at these websites:

www.finalexitnetwork.org

www.thegooddeathsocietyblog.net

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What is appreciative inquiry and how it facilitates conversations
  • Why studying end-of-life traditions introduces you to the values and deep culture of societies
  • How end-of-life care has been outsourced here in the U.S. to our detriment
  • Mayan traditions around death in Guatemala during Dia de los Muertos
  • Three-part community cremation rituals in Bali
  • The “thin veil” between the living and the dead that is perceived in many cultures
  • How “continuing bonds” with ancestors help strengthen the family
  • The use of cremated ashes to make burial beads in Korea
  • How Vietnamese funeral processions resemble funeral parades in New Orleans
  • Ceremonial kites flown in Guatemala city to honor their ancestors during Dia de los Muertos
  • Zoroastrian custom of leaving corpses in “Towers of Silence” for vultures to consume
  • Ifugao people in high country of Philippines keep bodies of their ancestors in rafters of the house and bring them out during special events
  • “Bone collecting” ritual after cremation in Japan
  • Igorot hanging coffins in the Philippines
  • Tibetan sky burial also depends on vultures; Sioux burial platforms similarly rely on ravens to consume the body
  • How Gary’s exposure to the rituals of other countries has informed his own decisions for the end of life

Links mentioned in this episode:

Buy me a coffee

Donate on Paypal

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest patron Erinn Gregory! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 351 Grief and the Best and Worst of Times with Dianne Gray

Learn how the death of her son inspired Dianne Gray’s current work as a death doula and patient advocate.

My guest Dianne Gray is a death doula, grief specialist and the Chief Innovation and Patient Advocacy Officer at Acclivity Health. After her son’s death from a rare neurodegenerative disorder she has dedicated her life to improving care for all adults and children facing serious illness. She shares her long journey with grief and how it has shaped and informed her work and her life.

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Dianne survived the end-of-life journey and death of her son
  • The best and worst experiences of the dying process
  • How Dianne’s encounters with death and grief led her to the mission of helping others facing loss
  • Why death and grief are part of the wellness movement and must be included in life in order to be whole
  • What Dianne learned about life from the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
  • Simple tools to ease grief and improve resilience
  • Therapy works for some people and not for others – keep searching for a good fit with a therapist
  • Learning that grief is a long journey to become someone new
  • Why viewing life as a fascinating adventure is helpful (and we never know what might happen next)
  • How social media can help or harm our grieving process
  • How Dianne works virtually as a patient advocate to get patients admitted to hospice and palliative care

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest patrons Phyllis Nickel and Kathleen Ribbens! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 350 Meeting the End-of-Life Needs of Your Community with Elizabeth Johnson and Erin Collins RN

Learn how this non-profit organization is working to solve gaps in end-of-life care in their community.

My guests Elizabeth Johnson and Erin Collins are the founders and creators of the non-profit Peaceful Presence Project with a mission of helping communities live well, age well and die well by reimagining the way we talk about, plan for and experience the last stage of life. They have created Endnotes, a roadmap for end-of-life planning an will discuss the genesis of their organization and how they take a community-based approach in their work by meeting the gaps that exist in end-of-life care. Learn more at their website:

www.the peacefulpresenceproject.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Elizabeth and Erin were inspired to start this organization
  • The Compassionate Communities model of care that informs their work
  • The importance of integrating palliative care into daily life
  • How to reclaim deathcare as a social event with a medical component
  • Surveying the community for strengths and weaknesses around end-of-life issues to determine areas of need
  • Thoughts on improving the medical model to move from a curative focus to a healing focus by increasing education around palliative and end-of-life care
  • Reasons why our advance care planning has not been “successful” so far
  • High quality conversations about EOL choices are essential and they should start outside of healthcare first
  • Why advance care planning is important for those experiencing homelessness
  • The needs for increased access to palliative care in rural communities
  • Exploring who is too poor to die well

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 349 Why My Family Chose Hospice with Kathleen Vallee Stein

Learn about the hospice experience from the perspective of a family member.

My guest Kathleen Vallee Stein worked for the California Department of Aging and has written numerous articles on caring for aging patents for more than twenty years. Her work has been published in the Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Pasadena Star-News, Orange County Register, and the Jewish Journal. Recently she has written a book about her family’s experiences as her father faced the end of life called Loving Choices, Peaceful Passing: Why My Family Chose Hospice, and today she’ll share insights from that hospice journey with her father. Learn more at her website:

www.valleeview.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How her family made the decision to choose hospice for her father
  • The challenges of having conversations about hospice with a loved one at the end of life
  • How the family had to bring up hospice with the doctor initially but he was helpful after that point
  • The relief experienced by the entire family and the patient once they made the decision to stop curative treatment and to enroll in hospice
  • Negative misperceptions about hospice are an obstacle to early admission
  • How her father’s temperament changed for the better after going on hospice
  • Why Kathleen hired in-home professional caregivers even though her parents were initially opposed to it
  • How they managed their parents’ financial issues as a family
  • Dealing with old family conflicts that arise at the end of life
  • How the hospice chaplain made a big difference for her father
  • The many positive surprises that arose during her father’s end of life
  • How they planned the funeral and made decisions about disposition
  • How she and her mother grew closer through the challenges of caring for her father at the end of life
  • Advice to those considering hospice for a loved one
  • Hope and “precious time” with her father in his last days

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 348 My Living Obituary: Legacy Therapy at the End of Life with Maggie Gannon and Heidi Connolly

Learn about a new platform that helps people create their own obituary or legacy project to benefit their loved ones after death.

My guests are Maggie Gannon, an Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist who started My Living Obituary, and Heidi Connolly, an author, musician and intuitive coach who helps people write their obituaries. Maggie created My Living Obituary to help palliative care and hospice teams increase quality of life and improve patient experience. Heidi helps people using the platform craft their own stories to leave behind as a legacy for their loved ones. Learn more about their work at these websites:

Maggie: www.mylivingobituary.com

Heidi: www.theobitwriter.net and www.heidiconnolly.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • The evidence behind legacy therapy to enhance dignity at the end of life based on research by Dr. Harvey Chochinov
  • How telling our life story helps us find meaning in our existence
  • Legacy therapy helps improve quality of life and decrease depression for patients
  • Studies have shown that family members benefit from legacy therapy as well
  • Listening to patients’ stories has been shown to increase their sense of worth and value
  • How the legacy therapy platform can be incorporated into the intake process for patients and used to measure quality of life and bill for advance care planning
  • Tips for writing an obituary:
    • Just get started
    • You don’t have to be a good writer
    • Make lists of characteristics, preferences, stories
    • Find a good “hook” for the story
    • Include poems, music, videos
  • The benefits of having a guide and a platform to help people craft an obituary
  • Creating your own living obituary before you die helps unburden loved ones at the time of your death
  • How this platform allows unlimited space for obituaries, unlike newspaper obituaries
  • How clinical staff can use the platform to enroll new patients and assist them with the life review questions

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 347 The Global Palliative Care Movement with Katherine Pettus

Learn about the status of palliative care in developing nations around the world and how IAHPC is working to increase global access.

My guest Katherine Pettus is the Senior Advocacy Director for The International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care. In this role she meets with delegates at the United Nations to increase the understanding of palliative care and to advocate for improved availability of opioids for patients needing pain relief. She is the author of Global Palliative Care: Reports from the Peripheries, which describes her visits to communities around the world to witness firsthand their utilization of palliative care. Learn more about the work of IAHPC at the website:

www.hospicecare.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Why 80% of the world’s population has no access to morphine
  • How Hospice Africa Uganda is utilizing powdered morphine for pain relief and also allows nurses to prescribe it in the field
  • Why palliative care teams are good at “sideways thinking” to solve problems that arrive in the moment
  • How caregiving is a crisis everywhere in the world right now (except Costa Rica that provides support for family caregivers)
  • Why the extended family is becoming a myth in developing nations
  • What is the “health poverty trap” and how lack of access to palliative care contributes to it
  • How the Western model of medicalized death is spreading to developing nations
  • Expanding palliative care helps medical systems and medical providers as well
  • How a “palliative care peace corps” could transform society
  • How COVID has affected the global palliative care movement

Palliative Care transforms everyone who participates in it.” 

Katherine Pettus in Global Palliative Care: Reports from the Peripheries

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLU Blog

What My Hospice Patients Want You to Know

The everyday wisdom of people just like you who are facing their own mortality.

As a hospice doctor I have had the privilege throughout my medical career of sitting at the bedsides of hundreds of patients. I have listened to their stories, answered their questions and shared their concerns as they faced the gradual decline that occurs at the end of life. 

But I also asked questions of my own as we sat together over those final days. Always a willing student, I viewed my patients as teachers who have explored unknown territory that I too will some day experience. Over and over again I have discovered gems of priceless wisdom in the words of the dying and have learned valuable lessons for living my own life. 

Many patients asked me to share this knowledge with the world since they are no longer here to tell their own stories. This request led to the book  7 Lessons for Living from the Dying, where I compiled those stories into a framework for living well before we die. That book contains profound spiritual wisdom but here is some of the simple everyday advice my patients also asked me to share:

“What seems important now doesn’t matter in the end.”

Many of my patients discovered at the very end of life that they didn’t care at all about the material possessions or wealth they had accumulated earlier in life. In fact they felt they had wasted time and energy trying to have more “things” in their lives and wished instead that they had focused on relationships and experiences, like travel and time in nature.

“Don’t worry so much about diet and exercise.”

Believing they would live longer and healthier lives, some of my patients had been very strict about eating the “right” foods and staying fit. But when they got sick anyway in their later years they felt they had cheated themselves out of some of life’s pleasures. “Exercise and eat to feel good” they recommended, but enjoy the foods you love and take plenty of time to relax, rest and have fun.

“Your doctor doesn’t have all the answers for you.”

During the early stages of illness many patients believed that modern medicine would cure them. They pursued treatment after treatment and followed medical advice to the tee, but instead of a cure they got severe side effects and complications. These patients wished they had spent less time relying on doctors and more time learning to trust their own judgment.

“Your life’s purpose isn’t what you think it is.”

Finding meaning and purpose in life is one of the great challenges of our human existence. We spend our lives seeking out the “right” occupation that will allow us to achieve both success and fulfillment. But some of my patients recognized that their life’s purpose was much simpler and smaller than they had assumed, such as being a thoughtful neighbor, planting a garden or caring for a pet. Pay as much attention to the simple things of life as you do to your efforts to climb the career ladder.

“Religion is less important than learning how to love others.”

Some of my patients had been devoutly religious throughout their lives but began to see that path as limiting when they faced their last days. They stopped identifying themselves as part of one group or another and saw instead that we are all connected and all deserving of love. In fact, they said that loving others was the most important task of their lives.

“Dying isn’t as scary as you think.”

Many patients were surprised that they no longer felt afraid of death as they got closer to it. They expressed curiosity about the dying process and were able to watch it unfold without fear. One patient told me she was “dissolving” a little bit each day and turning into light, which she described as a wonderful experience. “Don’t waste your time and energy being afraid of death,” she said, “instead … enjoy being alive!”

“You’re going to die anyway so you might as well be ready.”

The fact that death comes for each of us no matter what we do was one of the common bits of wisdom from my patients. Many of them wished they had started preparing for it earlier in life and those who had planned ahead for death were at peace and filled with gratitude. It’s never too early to tell people you love them, to practice forgiveness, and to find joy in the simple things in life.

While not everyone experiences peace or love through the process of dying, I found that those people who were open to it and ready to let go had by far the fewest difficulties at the end of life. Whatever you do to prepare for your later days will benefit you in the end so it’s worthwhile to start thinking about it now.

Remember: death is the one life experience that all living things have in common. Indeed, even stars and planets eventually die. Why not embrace it and follow the wise advice of my hospice patients? A life well-lived leads to a death without regrets … and that’s worth planning for.

Learn more about how to get ready for the last days of life at www.eoluniversity.com with Dr. Karen Wyatt.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 346 Settling Estate Issues After the Death of a Loved One with Matthew Van Drimmelen

Learn how common it is for people to have complicated financial issues to deal with after the death of a loved one and how this company can help.

My guest Matthew Van Drimmelen is the owner and founder of Full-Circle Aftercare, a company he created to help people deal with the stress and worry of settling estate issues after the death of a loved one. He shares some of the major issues families need help with after death and how they work with funeral homes and hospices to offer their services. Learn more at the website:

www.full-circlecare.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How this company works with families to help them tie up loose ends
  • The “hidden surprises” families sometimes overlook when trying to settle an estate
  • How Matt’s staff does investigative work to help families sort out the financial, insurance, property, tax, investment, and retirement accounts of their loved ones
  • Why these services are necessary even when the family has an estate attorney
  • How the company creates step-by-step plans to help survivors get back on their feet after a death
  • Why it matters how and when you notify financial institutions about a loved one’s death
  • Why fraud protection may be necessary after a death occurs
  • The difference between power of attorney and executorship and why it matters
  • The challenges of settling estate issues faced by people who are grieving
  • Why helping people with these after-death issues is gratifying and helps prevent grief overload in this work
  • What we should be doing now to make things easier for our loved ones after we die

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my patrons Sherrill Shimek for updating your pledge! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 345 Grief Coach: How Text-Based Support Can Help with Grief with Emma Payne

Learn how personalized text messages can help with the grief process for the bereaved and their support persons.

My guest Emma Payne is a seasoned entrepreneur and MIT graduate who is the founder and CEO of Grief Coach, a company that provides meaningful support to those who are experiencing loss and bereavement. She shares how Grief Coach offers personalized text messages to people who are grieving and to their support persons and why it is so effective. Learn more at the website:

www.grief.coach

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What inspired Emma to create Grief Coach
  • Our society lacks education about grief, particularly in challenging situations
  • How Grief Coach works
  • What types of loss and grief are supported through Grief Coach
  • What changes occurred for Grief Coach as a result of the pandemic
  • Sources for the tips and suggestions that are provided by text message
  • Research behind text-based grief support and why it is effective
  • How Grief Coach includes supporters of the bereaved in their messages
  • How Grief Coach works with hospices to offer benefits to their bereavement programs
  • How Grief Coach also helps clinicians manage end-of-life situations and deal with their own grief on the job
  • Grief Coach can be given as a gift to a bereaved person

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest patrons Morgan Rakay and Patti Stueland! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 344 Tools for Caregivers to Manage Stress and Increase Joy with Roger Moore

Learn some quick and easy stress management tools to improve health and joy during challenging times.

My guest Roger Moore is a certified hypnotherapist who helps people at the end of life with anxiety, depression, pain and other symptoms. His latest book Becoming the Greatest Expression of You contains tips and practices for overcoming the shame and fear of the past to live life more joyfully now. He discusses how these stress-reducing practices might help caregivers stay healthier as they offer care and support to their loved ones. These suggestions are also perfect for all of us as we navigate the stresses of life. Learn more at Roger’s websites:

www.palmdeserthypnosis.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How we can rewire the brain even until the moment we die
  • How to experience joy even during times of pain and difficulty
  • When we are able to recognize the presence of stress in our bodies we can more easily shift out of it into a state of joy
  • How laughter can change an entire day
  • Using a practice of “mental rehearsal” to envision things going well instead of badly
  • How caregivers can learn to ask for help from others
  • Simple tips for using meditation to help with stress
  • The importance of practicing gratitude every day
  • How to use self-forgiveness to move past blame and shame when things go wrong

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 343 When My Time Comes: Conversations About Medical Aid in Dying with Diane Rehm

Hear award-winning journalist Diane Rehm discuss what she learned about Medical Aid in Dying through conversations with people both for and against these laws.

My special guest Diane Rehm was the host of The Diane Rehm Show on WAMU and NPR for nearly 40 years with a weekly on-air audience of more than 2.8 million people. She is the author of 5 best-selling autobiographical book including her latest When My Time Comes: Conversations About Whether Those Who Are Dying Should Have the Right to Determine When Life Should End. She shares her experiences traveling the country and interviewing people about medical aid in dying for the book and the documentary film by the same name. Learn more at these websites:

www.dianerehm.org

www.whenmytimecomesmovie.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Diane’s journey with her husband John at the end of his life
  • Why Diane was inspired to create the documentary (and later the book) When My Time Comes
  • How memories of Dr. Kevorkian may still create fear and negativity around this subject
  • Lack of joy in life is a more common reason for choosing MAID than physical pain
  • Why choosing MAID is different than suicide
  • Current facts about Medical Aid in Dying laws in the U.S.
  • Common arguments against these laws from religious and disability communities
  • Safeguards built into these laws to prevent abuse and coercion
  • Patients with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are not eligible for MAID
  • This option is not equally available to all groups of people across the country for multiple reasons
  • How Brittany Maynard’s story galvanized this movement
  • The goal is to allow choice for people at the end of life

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest patrons Erica Sanchez and Kelly Bean! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 342 The Grieving Brain: The Science of Love and Loss with Mary-Frances O’Connor PhD

Learn how the brain changes and learns in response to loss and grief.

My guest Dr. Mary-Frances O’Connor is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, where she directs the Grief, Loss and Social Stress (GLASS) Lab, which investigates the effects of grief on the brain and the body. She discusses her book The Grieving Brain that highlights her research on the changes that occur in the brain during the grief process and how we can go about restoring a meaningful life while grieving. Learn more at her website:

www.maryfrancesoconnor.com

Get the book The Grieving Brain

Watch the video on YouTube

Read the transcript

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How the brain has to create a new “map” of reality after a loved one dies
  • Why the second year of grieving might be harder than the first
  • Why understanding the changes taking place in the brain can help us have more compassion for ourselves
  • How funeral rituals can be helpful for accepting the new reality that the brain must grasp
  • The difference between grief and grieving
  • How grief changes who you are and how you live in the world
  • Why guilt is a common emotion after a death
  • What is “complicated grief”
  • Why the experience of loss will continue to arise for us over and over again throughout life
  • What is the feeling of “yearning” and how does the brain contribute to it
  • Social connectedness is one of the most important coping skills for grieving
  • How to create an emotional “toolkit” that can help us cope with loss and grief (flexibility, presence, trying new experiences)
  • How grief can unite us and connect us with all of humanity

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest patrons Christina Alleva and Teresa Putnam! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 341 Burial at Sea and Other Sacred End-of-Life Rituals with Olivia Bareham

Learn about the beauty of full-body burial at sea and why it is becoming a more popular alternative.

My guest Olivia Bareham is a certified Death Midwife, Home Funeral Guide, Interfaith Minister and Funeral Celebrant. She is the founder of the Sacred Crossings Institute, which provides education for death midwifery and home funeral support and of the Sacred Crossings Funeral Home. Today she discusses full-body sea burials and other unique alternatives she offers at her funeral home. Learn more at the website:

www.sacredcrossings.com

Read the transcript here.

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Olivia first became interested in home funerals
  • How Olivia is “paying forward” the mentoring she received as she was learning about home funerals
  • Death as a teacher and a gift
  • What inspired Olivia to start an alternative funeral home
  • What is full-body sea burial
  • How families and loved ones can participate in a sea burial
  • How to plan a full-body sea burial
  • Who might consider a sea burial for themselves or for a loved one
  • How Olivia facilitates rituals for families of ICU patients who are being taken off life support
  • How stillbirth services help parents with their overwhelming grief

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Register for Q&A Session with William Peters on At Heaven’s Door here

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLU Blog

Finding Meaning in a Broken Life

Focus on the goodness of life rather than the regrets to find healing.

Jody was just 36 years old when she found out her colon cancer was incurable. I came to her apartment for our first hospice visit and saw that she was depressed and despondent over her diagnosis—as I had expected for someone her age who was raising two children by herself. She told me story after story of all the regrets she was carrying. And I just listened.

Her life had been unimaginably difficult—in foster care for most of her childhood then finally adopted at age 12 by a wonderful couple who loved her dearly. But she had been so filled with rage she couldn’t receive their love. She experimented with drugs and alcohol and was in and out of juvenile detention for petty crimes throughout her teens. There had been other even deeper regrets, but she didn’t want to talk about them. 

Jody was angry and bitter, but also ashamed. She believed she had wasted her life and now her children would grow up without a mother. She asked if there was any way to speed up her dying process because she could no longer face all of the emotional pain that was coming to the surface. 

We talked about things she could do to help with grief for her children, like writing letters to them that they could open at various milestones throughout their lives. She liked the idea that she could make sure her children didn’t feel unwanted, which she had experienced for most of her life.

I wasn’t sure how we could help Jody heal from all of these regrets. There were so many broken threads in her life and so many pieces to help her put back together. But then a little miracle happened. On my next visit with Jody she was like a different person: joyful and filled with energy and laughter. And she had more stories to tell me. 

Jody’s adoptive sister had come for a weekend visit and had brought with her boxes of old photos and a scrapbook. The two of them spent hours each day going through the photos together and gluing them into the album as a keepsake for Jody’s children. They wrote little stories on the pages to explain the pictures, which were arranged in a chronological timeline of Jody’s life.

She showed me each of the pages and told me entirely different stories than I had heard on my previous visit. Here was a family trip to the beach when she was 16. There was her favorite Halloween costume. And look: she was all dressed up for senior prom. Then there were pages and pages of pictures of her with her children: playing games, reading books, opening Christmas gifts, laughing, hugging, eating—all the little moments of life.

Jody wiped a tear away and smiled at me with a radiance I hadn’t seen before. “I’ve had a good life,” she said. “And I’ve been a good mom.” 

Here in her hands were the photos that documented all of the goodness of her life. In comparison to the magnificence of these moments, her regrets had faded away. She found meaning in the memories captured in these photos and was able to weave the broken threads of her life into a beautiful tapestry that was uniquely hers. 

Jody died just two weeks later. But she had been able to go through the album with her children and tell them all the stories that were depicted there. And she managed to write each of them letters that they could open when they were older. They would know they were loved and that their lives mattered and that an angel would be watching over them for all of their days. 

For most of us—like Jody—life hands us a mixture of sorrows and joys. We can view it all through the lens of regret and wish that things had been different. But we can also find ways to pick up the broken pieces and put them together to create a work of art–the likes of which has never before been seen–that might just change the world.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 340 Caregiver Crisis: Meeting the Needs of the Future with Jessica Zitter MD

Learn about the current crisis in family caregiving and what you can do to help.

My guest Dr. Jessica Zitter is a specialist in Critical Care and Palliative Care medicine and the author of the book Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life. Her work is featured in the documentary Extremis as well as her new film, Caregiver: A Love Story. Today she discusses the current crisis situation for family caregivers who are drastically overworked with little support. This is one of the most important topics we can address for the future! Learn more at these websites:

www.jessicazitter.com

www.caregiveralovestory.com

Read the transcript here. Watch video on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What inspired Jessica to create Caregiver: A Love Story
  • How film is a compelling medium for encouraging people to change their behavior
  • How medical providers are often unaware of the stresses facing family caregivers
  • More people are now dying at home than in the hospital which means there is huge need for caregivers
  • 1 out of 5 Americans is caring for a loved one at home
  • The burden experienced by caregivers is physical, mental and financial
  • We need a workplace culture that supports caregivers
  • Family caregivers are providing billions of dollars of unpaid work for an average of 4.5 years
  • Hospitals and doctors are doing a poor job of preparing caregivers for the tasks they will face – The Care Act requires them to provide education (but it’s not happening)
  • Hospice staffs are also burdened by the caregiver crisis
  • We also need to build up and support professional paid caregivers

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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference.