EOLPodcast

Ep. 388 A Song for You: Personalized Songs for Hospice Patients with Emily Cavanagh

Learn about an initiative to provide hospice patients with songs written specifically for them about their lives and stories.

My guest Emily Cavanagh is a singer/songwriter based in New York City who performs in places like New York, Chicago and Dublin. She has made a career for herself as a singer at the intersection of music and service as she brings music to marginalized communities. She is the founder of the music initiative A Song for You, which features local, touring, and Grammy Award-winning songwriters who compose and perform original personalized songs for hospice patients and their families. She will discuss the inspiration behind A Song for You and how this work has benefitted both the recipients and the creators of these special songs. Learn more at her websites:

www.emilycavanaghmusic.com

www.hereisasongforyou.org

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Emily got started in social work, activism and music
  • What inspired her to create A Song for You
  • The first song Emily wrote for a patient
  • How she writes songs for total strangers
  • How A Song for You has grown over time
  • The process for applying to have a song written for someone
  • How patients, families and songwriters have benefitted from sharing this special music
  • How to support A Song for You and its mission

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 Lucy Karl and Amrita Dhanji, and also to Karen Friedmann for buying me a coffee! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 385 End Well: Shifting the Culture Around End of Life with Tracy Wheeler

Learn how End Well brings together fresh and diverse perspectives on the end of life from art, design and other non-medical fields.

My guest Tracy Wheeler is the executive director of End Well, an organization dedicated to transforming how the world views end of life. Tracy has a background in art, education, culture and politics, which inform her commitment to shining a light on how we might make end of life a part of life. She discusses the mission and work of End Well since its founding and what lies ahead in the future, including the new End Well Podcast. Learn more at the website:

www.endwellproject.org

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Why the end-of-life movement needs to expand beyond the perspective of the healthcare industry
  • Why End Well is working with Hollywood to get more stories written about the end of life
  • How the Netflix series From Scratch portrayed very accurately a true story of serious illness and end of life
  • What the first season of the End Well Podcast consists of
  • About Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, the founder of End Well, and what inspired her to create this organization
  • Why end-of-life care issues cannot be fixed within the medical system that helped create those very issues
  • The End Well Conference planned for 2024 and how to sign up for the mailing list
  • Why psychedelic assisted therapy will be part of the wave of the future
  • The fear of death that exists within the medical profession
  • The impact of COVID on how healthcare approaches death and dying

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 Michele Duncan King, Arianna Workman, and Katrina Marcuse-Sharratt! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 383 The Good News of 2022 with Karen Wyatt

Learn some of the positive developments around end-of-life issues that took place in 2022.

This is the last episode of 2022 and I’m sharing some of the best “good news” stories I’ve seen this year about progress we’ve made around care at the end of life. Every month I curate end-of-life news stories for my supporters on Patreon and I’ve made note of some encouraging developments that I present to you today. Watch this on YouTube if you’d like to see slides or enjoy listening to the audio. Meanwhile, farewell to 2022 and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • The Lancet Commission on the Value of Death calls for a global paradigm shift on death and dying
  • NHPCO works to improve equity in death and dying and decrease racial disparities in care
  • Studies document inequities in end-of-life care
  • Plan to train community workers to do outreach in underserved areas
  • Recognizing the emotional and spiritual aspects of the dying process
  • Federal legislation to create a national strategy on grief and to expand advance care planning
  • Studies on caregiver stress and model for paying family caregivers
  • Best and worst places to die in the US
  • Studies on use of psychedelics to decrease anxiety at end of life
  • Virtual reality similar to psilocybin in reducing anxiety
  • “Death Tech” and media coverage of death both on the rise
  • Human composting now legal in 5 states

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 and to those who have made a donation through Paypal or bought me a coffee! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 382 Dear Death: Finding Meaning in Life and Peace in Death with Diane Button

Learn how to create a meaningful life and prepare for death with tools to help death doulas, hospice staff, and loved ones navigate the end of life.

My guest Diane Button is a founding partner of the Bay Area End-of-Life Doula Alliance in Northern California and an instructor for the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate Program. She is also the author of Dear Death: Finding Meaning in Life, Peace in Death and Joy in an Ordinary Day and she shares insights she gathered from research she did for her masters degree and from working with hospice and doula clients over the past decade. Learn more at the website:

www.dianebutton.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What led Diane to become a death doula
  • The inspiration behind Dear Death
  • The 4 pillars of a meaningful life and how Diane gathered this information
  • Why legacy projects are important and how to create one
  • What does it take to have a “good death”
  • Why Diane created The Doula’s Final Checklist
  • The “Mint Jelly” exercise for talking about death
  • Where to get Dear Death and the companion workbook

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 Lyn Canale and Donelle Dreese and thank you Joy for increasing your pledge! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 380 Heartwood: The Cycle of Life and Loss with Barbara Becker

Learn about a beautiful new book that explores how death teaches us, through many varied experiences of loss, how to truly live.

My guest Barbara Becker is an interfaith minister and a strategic communications consultant specializing in strengthening the voice of the non-profit community, working with the United Nations, Human Rights First, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. She is also the author of the book Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind and she shares the important lessons she has learned from death and loss throughout her life. Learn more about her work at the website:

www.barbarabecker.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What inspired Barbara to become an interfaith minister and to volunteer in hospice
  • How her work in hospice informed her own feelings about death
  • What is “heartwood” and why it is a fitting title for the book
  • How Barbara turned to her own book for guidance when she faced a health crisis of her own
  • The one question we should ask ourselves to live a more purposeful life
  • What we can learn about coping with death and grief from religious traditions outside of our own
  • Advice to help family caregivers cope with caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s
  • How to cope with the first holiday season while grieving the death of a loved one

Links mentioned in this episode:

EOLPodcast

Ep. 379 Honoring Choices: A Film to Inspire End-of-Life Planning with Elizabeth Coplan and Halle Williams

Learn about a short film that was created to encourage people to plan for and have conversations about the end of life.

In this episode I welcome two guests to discuss the short film Honoring Choices that is a powerful tool for persuading people to plan for and talk about the end of life. Elizabeth Coplan is the founder of Grief Dialogues and the creator of the stage play Honoring Choices that ultimately became the film we are featuring. Halle Williams is the marketing director for both Grief Dialogues and Honoring Choices and the co-host of Out of Grief Comes Art Podcast along with Elizabeth. Learn more about their work at the website:

www.griefdialogues.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What inspired the creation of the film Honoring Choices
  • The true story behind the film
  • What Elizabeth and Halle hope the film will accomplish
  • The serious racial disparity in completing advance directives and how the film helps address this issue
  • The power of storytelling and how the film uses story to teach
  • The premiere of Honoring Choices at the Reimagine Festival in LA
  • How to use the film for teaching for hospices, hospitals, schools, churches
  • How to sponsor a screening of the film
  • Inspiration for the podcast Out of Grief Comes Art

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 patron Maggie Dial! Your contribution makes all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 378 Surviving Grief with Humor with Laurie Burrows Grad

Learn how this television chef and blogger used humor to help her navigate life as a widow.

My guest Laurie Burrows Grad is a cookbook author and television chef who began blogging about grief, widowhood, and survival after the death of her husband Peter. She shares how she used humor to help her navigate life as a widow and offers some practical tips for others facing widowhood. Laurie is the author of the book The Joke’s Over, You Can Come Back Now: How this Widow Plowed Through Grief and Survived. Learn more about her work at her website:

www.lauriegrad.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Laurie felt demoted socially after the death of her husband
  • How writing blogs helped Laurie get through her grief
  • Why you have to get through the pain of grief in order to come out on the other side
  • Laurie’s experiences with grief counselors and with Our House Grief Support Center
  • How finding meaning within loss can help you feel better
  • How Laurie has used humor in her writing and throughout her grief process
  • The challenges of trying to date as a widow in later life
  • The trauma of experiencing a loved one’s death while traveling in an unfamiliar place and how the Neptune Society helped
  • Top ten things not to say to someone grieving and what to say instead
  • How cooking for others was also helpful for Laurie in her grief
  • How to get through the holidays and anniversaries by preparing in advance
  • The most important things Laurie has learned on her grief journey

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 and to those who have made a donation through Paypal or bought me a coffee! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 376 Creating a Sacred Space at the Moment of Death with Barbara Karnes, RN

Learn some simple steps to honor the sacredness of the moments before and after death.

My favorite guest Barbara Karnes, RN is back for another episode where we talk about issues in hospice care. Barbara is an internationally recognized speaker and expert on end-of-life care. She is author of the popular booklet Gone from My Sight and By Your Side: A Guide for Caring for the Dying at Home, among others. Today Barbara shares some fantastic tips for how to help a family create a sacred space for the moment of their loved one’s death and just after. We discuss what hospice providers, death doulas, or family members can do to enhance meaning and reverence as the last breath is taken. These simple reminders are important to make sure that we don’t overlook this brief moment-in-time that is filled with so much significance and grace. Learn more about Barbara’s work at her website:

www.bkbooks.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What to do in the hours before a death
  • How to be a “conductor” for this final moment of life
  • Why each family member should be encouraged to say a private goodbye
  • How to prepare the body immediately after death
  • How to arrange the room immediately after a death
  • When to call the funeral home
  • What to do after the body is removed
  • How to talk about the benefits of having a visitation
  • How to help family members, including children, write letters or draw pictures to leave with loved one at the funeral
  • How to create sacred space in a hospital room or ICU

Links mentioned in this episode:

EOLPodcast

Ep. 366 The Death Conversation Game and Talking About Death with Angela Fama

Learn about a creative game to help foster conversations about death.

My guest Angela Fama is an artist and photographer who lives in Vancouver Canada and is also a recently trained death doula. She created the Death Conversation Game and facilitates online seasonal Let’s Talk About Death conversations. She will share how she became interested in exploring death as a subject and why she created the game. We will also play a few rounds of the game so you can see how it works! Learn more at her websites:

www.angelafama.com

www.deathconversationgame.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Angela’s What is Love project
  • How focusing on love led her eventually to learn about death
  • Why Angela needed to talk about death after a serious accident
  • What inspired the Death Conversation Game
  • How playing a game helps facilitate conversations about death
  • Why it’s important for people to talk about death
  • How to create a safe, trauma-informed space to discuss death
  • We play the game to demonstrate how it works
  • Who might benefit from using the game in their work
  • How Angela’s time in Zimbabwe influenced her decision to become a death doula
  • Angela’s request for a collaborator to extend the reach of the game

Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?

The Flaming Lips from Do You Realize

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Song: Do You Realize by The Flaming Lips
  • Get in touch with Angela: info@deathconversationgame.com

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 Martha Lundgren, and to those who have bought me a coffee and made a donation through Paypal! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 365 How to Live a Death-Aware Life with Karen Wyatt MD (ENCORE)

Learn the benefits of having a personal practice to increase our death-awareness.

In this encore solo episode I’ll be sharing with you research that shows that the human brain has a primal mechanism to protect us from thinking about and acknowledging our own personal death. Even those of us who study death and teach others how to prepare for the end of life can be in denial about our own mortality. However, living with “death awareness” is the best way to grow spiritually and make the most of every moment of life. My book The Tao of Death (with a companion journal) can be used for daily contemplation and help you become more death aware in your own life. Let’s talk about why we need to maintain our death-awareness and how to do it!

www.eoluniversity.com/taoofdeath

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • A study that shows the defenses against death-awareness that exist in the primitive human brain
  • Why personal death-awareness must be intentionally cultivated
  • How death-awareness can expand and transform our lives
  • Why daily death contemplation is essential to our growth
    • Think about the fleeting nature of life
    • Acknowledge fears of death and dying
    • Recognize barriers to awareness
  • Benefits of increased death-awareness:
    • Enjoy the present moment
    • Find comfort in stillness
    • Experience authentic gratitude for life
    • Experience awe
    • Become less attached to material things
    • Be more inclusive and less exclusive
    • See everything as sacred

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 and to those who have bought me a coffee (thank you Elisa Weger!) and made a donation through Paypal! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 361 Exploring End-of-Life Controversies Through Fiction Writing with John Byrne Barry

Learn about a novel that explores the moral dilemma of a son whose father asks him to end his suffering by hastening his death.

My guest John Byrne Barry is a writer, designer, actor, pickleball player, and crossing guard. He is the author of the novel When I Killed My Father: An Assisted-Suicide Family Thriller that explores what might happen if a son followed through on his father’s request to hasten the end of his life. He discusses how fictional stories can help us address controversial issues and find new perspectives on them and why he writes fiction “with a conscience.” Learn more about his writing at his website:

www.johnbyrnebarry.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Why John chose to wrote a novel that addresses a family member helping a loved one end his life
  • How John did research for the book in order to understand hospice, end-of-life and right-to-die issues
  • How fiction can help us look at controversial and complicated issues and find more compassion for one another
  • How John portrayed communication issues, old family conflicts, and shadow wounds as obstacles to decision-making in the book
  • What John learned from writing this book
  • How end-of-life issues are becoming more visible in popular culture
  • What readers might take away from the book and apply to their own lives

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 Karen Hendrickson, and to those who have bought me a coffee and made a donation through Paypal! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 358 STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers with Mary Roach

Find out what happens when a body is donated to science and how cadavers have benefitted the living through various types of research.

My guest Mary Roach is the author of multiple New York Times bestsellers including STIFF: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, which has sold over 1 million copies and been translated into 17 different languages. She’ll tell us why she wrote this book, how she did the research for it and what she learned from this project. Her stories range from macabre to heartbreaking in this look at the “other side” of death that we rarely explore: how the deceased benefit the living. Learn more about Mary’s work at her website:

www.maryroach.net

View on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What drew Mary to write about cadavers
  • The surprising fact that this book sold over 1 million copies when it was first published in 2003 in our death-phobic society
  • What it was like to do research for this book
  • Which experiences were most challenging for Mary
  • How cadaver researchers cope with the trauma of witnessing human carnage
  • Why cadavers are our superheroes and the contributions they have made to the betterment of humankind
  • A touching ceremony Mary witnessed at the UCSF gross anatomy lab
  • What is a “beating heart” cadaver
  • How cadaver research has changed over the years

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • 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, and to those who have bought me a coffee and made a donation through Paypal! 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. 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. 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. 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.