A doctor learns about death by caring for her husband at the end of his life.
My guest Dr. Martha Calihan has been a practicing physician for over 30 years but she didn’t learn about the end of life until she became a caregiver for her ill husband. She shares how she navigated those challenging days and how being a caregiver made her a better doctor. She is the author of A Death Lived – a memoir of her end-of-life journey with her husband Charles. Learn more at her website:
Join the team atPatreon.com/eoluand get access to the EOLU mug: “Mind if we talk about death?” (only Patrons can purchase it). PLUS get our new bonuses: the monthly EOL News Update, movie reviews from 2 Doctors and a Movie, and automatic access to A Year of Reading Dangerously!
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: Molly Oldfield and Lisa Rivera. Your contributions make all the difference!
Learn how hypnosis can help dying patients, their loved ones, and their medical providers find greater ease and less stress as they cope with the end of life.
My guest Roger Moore is a medical hypnotherapist who frequently works with patients at the end of life and their caregivers. He’ll discuss how he utilizes hypnosis to help ease symptoms for his patients and share tools that all of us can use to deal with stress. Learn more about Roger’s work at his website:
Join the team at Patreon.com/eoluand get access to the EOLU mug: “Mind if we talk about death?” (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 my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest Patrons: Gail Clemson, and Kathy Bates; your contributions make all the difference!
Learn why being present for others is actually a perfect self-care practice.
My return guest Kirsten DeLeo is an international trainer with the Spiritual Care Program and teaches about contemplative caregiving. She is the author of the newly-released book Present through the End and will discuss how and why we should strengthen our own ability to be present with others as part of our spiritual care of the dying. Learn more at Kirsten’s website:
Learn how to make the most of the present moment and give the gift of presence to those you love.
In Part 4 of the Mortal Wisdom Series I’ll discuss how to develop the skill of Presence to use in your personal life and work. Presence is the secret of living fully in every moment and you’ll learn how to enhance your ability to stay focused and present in day-to-day life. These are the lessons we can learn from our mortality and how to thrive in life while knowing that death awaits. Listen to Parts 1, 2, and 3 first if you haven’t heard them yet!
Learn how death doulas can benefit both patients and staff when they are added to the hospice interdisciplinary team.
Today I’m sharing an interview with Sherry Majewski who is a hospice-certified LPN who went to become a Certified Death Doula and is now helping her employer create a doula program within the hospice. We talk about the benefits and challenges of adding doulas to the hospice team and why this is an important step forward as we work to improve care for the dying. Learn more about Sherry’s doula services at her website:
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 Joanna Lillian Brown, Karin Lindfors, Carol Marangoni, Cathy Clemens, Myra Bennett, and to Mandy Pierpont thank you for increasing your pledge!
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)
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 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
In this episode I share some thoughts about how to get involved in the end-of-life movement if you have recently become interested in death and dying. You’ll hear about my best ideas for contributing to change in the way people die and offering your service to others.
Welcome to our new sponsor: Authentic Presence Training from the Spiritual Care Program. Authentic Presence brings together practical contemplative resources with the knowledge and skills of modern hospice and palliative care. Suitable for professionals from all faith traditions or none, the course draws its inspiration particularly from Buddhist contemplative practice, the acclaimed classic The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, the work of the Dalai Lama, as well as contemplative neuroscience. Learn more here.
Join me and my guest Suzanne O’Brien RN for a free webinar: “EOL Doula Training for Caregivers and Volunteers” on Tuesday July 24th at 5 pm Pacific/8 pm Eastern. Register here and you’ll receive the replay if you can’t attend live.
Learn about these opportunities to be of service to the dying in many different capacities:
Work as a professional in hospice or palliative care (call your local hospice/palliative care program to see if you have the credentials needed and to learn about any training offered):
Become a volunteer – for those with no medical training:
Hospice volunteers are always needed (call your local hospice for more information)
Pet Therapy for Hospice Patients – if you have a special pet and would like to receive training to provide visits to patients. Learn more in this interview.
Seek out other opportunities in your community like Meals on Wheels, hospital or nursing home volunteer programs, church-related visitation programs
Become an End-of-Life Doula – check out the training mentioned above with Suzanne O’Brien and find out if this work is a good fit for you. Learn more here.
Start a caregiver training program – the need for in-home caregivers is going to increase dramatically over the next decade. Consider becoming a caregiver trainer to help your community meet this need.
Teach a death education class – there is currently a great need for education about death and dying in our society. Consider teaching your own class or workshop to provide information to others in your community. Get the Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class here.
Create a Community Event to inspire people to learn more about the end of life:
Learn about the life of Cicely Saunders and what we can discover from her quest to change the way that people died.
In this episode, recorded just after the celebration of what would have been Cicely Saunder’s 100th birthday, I talk about how she became interested in caring for the dying, what inspired her to create St. Christopher’s Hospice, and what we can learn from her determination to improve care at the end of life.
Read more about the life and work of Dame Cicely Saunders at:
If you’d like to join A Year of Reading Dangerously, our online reading group for 2018, there’s still time! Check out the reading list here and start reading along with 1,000 other people around the globe!
Cicely Saunders first began working with dying patients when she was training to be a nurse in the early 1940’s in London. She went on to become an Almoner (medical social worker) and a volunteer nurse at a hospice for the dying poor where she recognized the great need for better pain management and comfort care at the end of life.
When she was told that the medical system would not be interested in her ideas because she wasn’t a physician she accepted the challenge and went to medical school. One revolutionary contribution to end-of-life care was her concept of “Total Pain,” which included emotional and spiritual pain as well as physical.
As a doctor Cicely received a research grant where she studied pain management and wrote many articles. She took “before and after” photos of each patient so that she could show the transformation that occurred when pain was alleviated. Eventually her dream of creating a hospital dedicated to care of the dying was fulfilled when St. Christopher’s Hospice opened 10 years later.
From her story we can take much inspiration for today’s ongoing struggle to improve care at the end of life:
Follow your heart – Cicely stayed true to her heart and passion throughout her career as she dedicated herself to care of the dying, even when others discouraged her.
Be willing to change course to achieve your dream – Cicely was unable to pursue her original dream of being a nurse after a back injury and shifted to medical social work as a way of continuing her work with dying patients.
Be persistent – Cicely’s determination to do whatever it took to bring her dream to fruition led her to become a doctor.
Patience is essential – Cicely had to wait for many years to see her dream of a hospice become a reality: first while she studied to be a doctor, then did several years of research, and finally raised the funds to build St. Christopher’s. Change rarely happens overnight so stay the course!
Be credible before you can be incredible – Cicely demonstrated this throughout her career as she diligently worked through her own education and her research to gain credibility in the eyes of the medical system she was trying to change
The importance of teamwork – Cicely found likeminded individuals in her community and in the U.S. to sustain her inspiration and her enthusiasm for her goal. We can accomplish more as a team than as individuals.
Flexible models are necessary for optimum care – Cicely resisted standardizing her model of hospice care and instead chose to help others create their own unique solutions for the needs of their communities.
Have a big vision but humble expectations – Cicely sought to change care of the dying across the world with her vision of hospice but was content to make a difference to just one patient at at time.
“If one man from a poor village in India dies without pain because of what I have done, it will all have been worthwhile.” – Dame Cicely Saunders
Today we would be advised to remember her Total Pain concept as we struggle to deal with an opioid crisis in the U.S. Neglecting the contribution of emotional and spiritual pain to physical pain has led to over-reliance on drugs as the answer to suffering.
Happy Birthday Dame Cicely Saunders!
Thank you for inspiring us to carry on your big vision of helping every person find comfort, peace and love at the end of life.
Tune in every Monday for a new episode! If you enjoy this content please share with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes. Until next week:
Learn how small choirs around the country are bringing beauty and solace to the bedsides of dying patients.
In this episode I share an interview with Kate Munger and Marti Mariette who have helped to spread the “threshold choir” movement across the U.S. and the world. You’ll hear clips of their beautiful singing! Learn more at www.thresholdchoir.org.
I’m still traveling in Italy and you can keep track of my journey by following me on Instagram (kwyattmd) or Facebook (Karen Wyatt MD). I’m supposed to be getting some research and writing done for my new book on grief … but we’ll see how it goes. I might be just eating my way through the country!
You can support this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series with a small donation of $1 or $2 per month! As a thank-you gift you’ll receive a the Top 10 Interviews from EOLU, a recorded Q&A session each month (where I’ll be answering YOUR questions), and a chance to have me promote your work on this podcast! Learn more at Patreon.com/eolu.
Today I welcome my special guests Kate Munger, the founder of the Threshold Choir movement, and Marti Mariette, who is the director of the Santa Cruz Threshold Choir. They will share with us:
How and why Kate started the first Threshold Choir
The benefits of bedside singing for patients and their families
The benefits experienced by the singers themselves
How to start or join a Threshold Choir in your area