Learn how a training program for end-of-life doulas is preparing a wide variety of students to care for their loved ones with compassion and heart.
My guest Francesca Arnoldy has trained as both a birth and death doula and continues to guide clients through these passages at the beginning and end of life. She is the developer and program director of the End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate Program at the University of Vermont that provides training for not only doulas but also other medical providers and lay people in caring for the dying. She is the author of the book Cultivating the Doula Heart: The Essentials of Compassionate Care. Learn about her work at her website:
Learn how a death doula started a business coaching doctors to address end-of-life issues with their patients.
My guest Rachel Giger is a death doula and hospice volunteer who responded to a need in her community by offering to teach local doctors how to talk about death with their patients. She now has physician clients from around the country who are eager to learn how to help their patients deal with the end of life. Learn more at her website:
Learn how this grassroots movement is helping to promote mortality awareness around the world.
My guest Kate Manser is a writer and motivational speaker who created the You Might Die Tomorrow movement in response to her own grief experiences. She will discuss how she overcame her own fear of death and how she has spread You Might Die Tomorrow globally.
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, Judith Kubran, Laura Stanger, and Cole Imperi.
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 how art and the written word can be a powerful tool for confronting our mortality.
My guest Lindsay Tunkl is a conceptual artist and writer who explores subjects such as death, heartbreak, and the apocalypse. Her work has been shown at galleries in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Today she will talk about her book “When You Die You Will Not Be Scared To Die” and her workshop Parting Practice: Rituals for Endings and Failure.
This special episode is to honor the memories of two very special women who changed the world around them in different ways throughout their lives and died on the same day.
On Thursday January 17, 2019 we learned of the deaths of two women who have contributed much to our understanding of the sacred in nature and in death. Mary Oliver is a beloved American poet whose love of nature inspired her beautiful verses. Her poems reveal the heart of humanity through the natural cycle of life and death she observed during her time spent in the out-of-doors. She authored many books of poetry including Blue Iris, Wild Geese, At Blackwater Pond, and Why I Wake Early and was honored with numerous awards throughout her career.
Dr. Megory Anderson trained in comparative religions and theology and founded the Sacred Dying Foundation in 1996. She is the author of the books Sacred Dying: Creating Rituals for Embracing the End of Life and Attending the Dying. Megory trained many end-of-life caregivers and professionals from diverse medical, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Megory’s presence will be deeply missed by everyone who has been touched by her love and compassion.
This episode includes:
A reading and discussion of Mary Oliver’s poem In Blackwater Woods
How Mary Oliver’s poetry helped me through times of grief
Learn the essential aspects of “soul midwifery” from a true pioneer in the field of end-of-life care.
My guest Felicity Warner has been caring for the dying and teaching others to provide care for over 20 years. She shares with us how she found soul midwifery as her calling and the changes she has observed over the past two decades of her work as she has trained hundreds of people to become soul midwives in their own communities. Learn more at her website:
How Felicity first became interested in working with dying patients
A look back at death and dying 20 years ago and the changes that have taken place over time
The greatest challenges we face today in offering quality care to the dying
What Felicity means by the term “soul midwife”
How to prepare in order to be present with the dying
Why listening is the most important skill we can develop in our work
Felicity’s newest book: Sacred Oilsand what we can learn from it
Felicity’s Soul Midwives School and the trainings offered there
Where to get Felicity’s books and how to work with her remotely or in person
A good death is an extraordinary, moving and sacred experience. It can also have a healing quality, not only for the person who is involved but their families, friends and the wider community. (Felicity Warner, Gentle Dying)
Learn about the best of EOLU in 2018 and how to catch up if you missed any of these events!
“Death Education for Everyone” was the theme for 2018 and we’ll review all the great educational content that was provided in the past year. It’s not too late to listen in on the best webinars and interviews of the year before we get started on a brand new season of EOLU! Check out the links for the events you’ve missed in the description below.
Happy New Year to each and every one of you!
BIG NEWS!! Starting in 2019 the EOLU Interview Series will merge with the EOLU Podcast – so all the great interviews you are used to hearing on the interview series will now be available as podcast episodes. This means you can subscribe to the podcast and listen to the interviews on your phone while you are on the go! In addition you’ll be able to hear the solo episodes (like this one) where I share my wisdom, inspiration, and ideas for embracing the end of life and living fully today.
You can subscribe to the podcast at one of the following links (whichever podcast app you use):
Thanks for all of your support in 2018! I appreciate you for listening in and encouraging me to keep going. And I’m especially grateful to those of you who have become patrons on my donation page at Patreon.com/eolu: you make my heart sing!
2018 has been a wonderful year for EOLU that began with a goal of supporting “Death Education for Everyone.” In support of that goal the following programs were created:
A Year of Reading Dangerously online reading group; we’ve read one book a month this year and held 9 live book discussions with authors of the books in attendance. Nearly 1,000 readers from around the world have joined together to read the same book at the same time. We’ve all learned a lot about death, dying and the afterlife and have had fun in the process!
The “best” interviews of 2018 (though they were all fantastic!);
Hansa Bergwall talking about the WeCroak app he created for smart phones that reminds you of your mortality 5 times a day. Listen here.
Dr. Bob Uslander who has pioneered a new concierge model of end-of-life care, which could be a game-changer for the medical system and how we help patients navigate their last days. Listen here.
Alua Arthur of Going With Gracetalked about the legal issues that can occur after death and how to prepare for them in advance. Listen here.
Deanna Cochran RN and Suzanne O’Brien RN both talked about the creation of the End-of-Life Doula Council by the NHPCO and the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance, which now provides certification training for doulas. Listen to Deanna’s interview here. Listen to Suzanne’s interview here.
Learn how planning ahead and being ready for the unexpected can be a special gift for your loved ones this year.
During the holidays we all want to find the perfect gift for our family members that will show them our love and bring joy to their lives. But face it … in this age of consumerism most people already have more possessions than they need and we have sadly littered our planet with excessive material goods that no one wants or can use. Here’s an idea for a gift you can give now that will bring peace of mind and relief to your loved ones some day in the future: plan ahead for the end of your life, gather your most important documents, and have a conversation with the people closest to you about your wishes.
Creating an end-of-life file that contains all of your most important documents along with your wishes for healthcare and after-death care is a task that will benefit you as well as your loved ones in the future. You will be saving them from a great deal of stress and frustration if they won’t have to search for your papers or guess what you might want for yourself when you reach the end of life. Why not use the holiday season as a motivator to complete your file and offer as a gift of love to your family!
This episode includes:
Ideas for storing your documents
Why it’s important to gather important information in one place so your loved ones can find it
Why you need to complete your advance directive (or living will) and choose a healthcare proxy now rather than later
The benefits of planning your funeral and burial in advance
How to view end-of-life planning as a gift of love for those who care about you
In this episode I have a conversation with Catharine DeLong about her work as a music thanatologist. We also discuss the Integrative Thanatology CertificateProgram being offered by the Art of Dying Institute of the New York Open Center. If you are interested in the training which begins on January 4, 2019, register before Dec. 1st to get the discounted early-bird rate.
THANK YOU to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Licha Kelley-King! I appreciate all of you who have been making monthly donations to keep this show on the air. If you want to join the team and receive special bonuses click here to learn more: Patreon.com/eolu.
Today Catharine DeLong joins me to talk about her field of Music Thanatology and the Integrative Thanatology Certificate Program. We discuss:
What is “music thanatology”
The benefits of music thanatology for dying patients and their loved ones
How to use music in end-of-life situations when a music thanatologist is not available
The structure of the Integrative Thanatology Certificate Program offered by the Art of Dying Institute at the New York Open Center
Who the certificate program is for
Faculty members who will be teaching in 2019
How to register and get the “early-bird” rate for the program
My awesome Spain trip is at an end as this episode airs and I’ll be making my way back to Colorado! You can check out all of my pictures on Instagram at kwyattmd!
Tune in next week to hear my stories from Spain!
In this presentation Stephanie Ryu will discuss her role as a chaplain on the palliative care team.
You will learn:
How the work of a palliative care chaplain differs from other chaplaincy work
The role of spiritual care in the whole-person approach to illness and healing
The importance of spirituality at the end of life
How chaplains assist patients of all religions and those who follow no religion
Stephanie Ryu is a graduate of St. Xavier University and Fuller Theological Seminary. She completed CPE Residency at Providence St. Joseph – Burbank in 2012-13 along with a 6-month fellowship in hospice and palliative care. She now serves as a Palliative Care Chaplain for Providence Health and Services.
In Part 3 of our series on palliative care I share an interview with Andrea Strouth MSW a social worker on the palliative care team. She’ll talk about her role on the team to help us understand why social workers play an important part in the care of patients with advanced illness.
At the time of this broadcast I’m still enjoying my Spain trip – probably eating some tapas in Barcelona! I’ll be returning home in a few weeks but meanwhile check out my photos on Instagram at kwyattmd!
In this presentation Andrea Strouth LCSW, MSW will discuss the role of the social worker on the palliative care team.
You will learn:
The duties of the palliative care team social worker
Why palliative patients might need social work services
How the multidisciplinary palliative care team functions as a unit
The rewards of working on a palliative care team
Andrea Strouthreceived her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently working at Providence Health & Services-Southern California to help develop their outpatient palliative care program. Previously, Andrea worked at the Abramson Cancer Center at Penn Medicine and in the Medical and Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Units at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her passion lies in advanced care planning and education surrounding end-of-life issues to ensure patients feel empowered in every aspect of their care.
Tune in next Monday for Part 4 of this series. If you find this content helpful please share it with other and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Also your contributions to my page at Patreon.com/eolu are always appreciated!
In Part 2 of our series on palliative care I share an interview with Rebekah Riemer a palliative care nurse. She’ll talk about her role on the team and why she decided to specialize in palliative care nursing.
My Spain trip continues this week as I visit more of Andalucia and take in some flamenco dancing. I’ll be returning home in a few weeks but meanwhile check out my photos on Instagram at kwyattmd!
In this presentation Rebekah Riemer RN will discuss the role of the nurse on the palliative care team and her own story of being called to work in palliative.
You will learn:
How Beka was introduced to palliative care as a family member of a patient and a patient herself
The typical duties of a palliative care nurse
How palliative care meets the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients and their families
The most common misperceptions about palliative care for the public and for healthcare providers
Rebekah “Beka” Riemer, RN, CCRN was an intensive care nurse for over eight years, working in surgical as well as medical ICUs and currently works as the Nurse Coordinator on the Inpatient Palliative Care Team at Providence Little Company of Mary in Torrance, California. She is on the team working towards the recertification of the Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Palliative Care. She serves on the Critical Care Committee representing nursing and Palliative Care, as well as on the Ethics Committee and Mortality Committee.
In addition, Ms. Riemer volunteers at the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of America (LLSA), Los Angeles, CA chapter. In 2013, she was 1st runner up for Woman of the Year, as she raised over $50,000 for leukemia/lymphoma research for the LLSA. Ms. Riemer has been an ELNEC-Critical Care faculty member for over five years.
She also spoke at the National Teaching Institute for Critical Care Nurses in 2017, speaking about the importance of integrating Palliative Care in Critical Care settings. She will also be published in the 5th edition of the Oxford Textbook for Palliative Care Nursing in the seventh chapter titled, “ Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Teams: Specialists in Delivering Palliative Care”.
Tune in next Monday for Part 3 of our series on palliative care! If you enjoy this content please share it with others who might find it helpful and consider leaving a review on iTunes!
This episode is the first of a 4-part series that introduces you to the members of a palliative care team. Today Dr. Colin Scibetta discusses his role as the physician on the team and how palliative care differs from hospice care. In future episodes you’ll hear from the team nurse, social worker and chaplain.
As this episode airs I am enjoying a trip through Spain, including cycling in the Andalucia region! I’ll be back home in a few weeks to report on the trip. Follow me on Instagram to see my photos at kwyattmd or this link: https://www.instagram.com/kwyattmd/
This interview will cover:
What palliative care consists of
The difference between palliative care and hospice
The benefits of palliative care for patients
How the whole-person approach of palliative medicine also benefits care providers
Why Providence Institute for Human Caring (et al) was awarded the Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association
Colin Scibetta MD is a fellowship-trained palliative medicine physician who complete his undergrad in neuroscience and biology at Wesleyan University. He then moved to Ecuador where he worked on a health initiative for indigenous communities impacted by oil development. Dr. Scibetta did his undergraduate medical training at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where he also completed an internal medicine residency and a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine.
Remember to tune in next week for Part 2 of this palliative care series! If you enjoy this content be sure to share it with others who might find it helpful and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
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 an interview I did with Joanna Penn on her podcast for authors “The Creative Penn.” We talk about why it’s important for authors to address death and grief in their writing and I’m sharing it with you to illustrate how we can talk about death with other people who don’t necessarily share our knowledge or interest. Learn more about Joanna’s awesome podcast here: www.thecreativepenn.com/podcasts/
This episode is sponsored by generous contributions on my page at Patreon.com/eolu. This week I’d like to thank my new patrons Mary Wilkinson, Joan Bretthauer, and Diane Adams! Your support means everything to me! To join the team and receive special bonuses go to Patreon.com/eolu.
Today I’m sharing with you an interview Joanna Penn did with me for her podcast The Creative Penn. A few weeks ago in Episode 156I discussed about how to talk to strangers about death and dying. My point was that we need to be bold enough to strike up conversations with people about death.
My interview with Joanna is an example of talking with someone not well-versed in end-of-life issues to show that it can be productive and inspirational at the same time. Joanna let me know that many of her listeners wrote to saw how much they enjoyed our interview and that it was very helpful to them personally and as writers. So let’s go have more conversations about death with people in all walks of life!
Lessons learned from working with those close to death
Paying attention to our inner passion for writing
Tips for dealing with death and grief in our characters and our writing. Joanna talks about some of the issues she tackled in her book Desecration.
Why we are able to write about grief that we might not have experienced personally
Why it’s okay to be comfortable with the subject of death
Changes in death culture as boomers age
There will be a new episode each Monday so be sure to tune in again! If you enjoy this content please share it with other and consider leaving a review on iTunes.
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!
This episode is sponsored by Authentic Presence training for healthcare providers from the Spiritual Care Program. You can receive a certificate in contemplative end-of-life care by completing this series of three courses, including an 8-day residential immersion retreat. Highly recommended!
Today Julie Saeger Nierenberg and Victoria Brewster join me to talk about their book Journey’s End: Death, Dying, and the End of Life, which is a compilation of quotes, stories and resources that look at death from various perspectives. In our conversation we discuss:
How Julie and Vikki ended up collaborating on this book
How the stories in the book are organized:
Personal Stories of Professionals and Lay People
Professional Support and Caregiving Perspectives
Funeral Home, Post-Death and Alternative Burial
Grief and Bereavement
How they chose the contributors for the book
The feedback they’ve received from readers
How this book of stories can be useful in many settings for both professionals and lay people
How to submit a story for the next book in the series which will feature various cultural, ethnic and religious perspectives on death and dying
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.