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. 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. 377 Center for Conscious Living and Dying: An End-of-Life Care Home with Aditi Sethi, MD

Learn about a model for a non-medical home that is changing how we provide end-of-life care.

My guest Dr. Aditi Sethi is a hospice and palliative care physician and end-of-life doula. She is the founder and executive director of the Center for Conscious Living and Dying, a community supported end-of-life care home near Asheville NC. Aditi shares her journey toward working with death and dying and the creative inspiration that is bringing CCLD into existence. We discuss why the care home model may be the solution to many problems currently facing hospice and end-of-life care. Learn more at the website:

www.ccld.community

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How intuition guided Aditi’s journey to becoming a hospice and palliative care physician and an EOL doula
  • What Aditi learned from her travels in India during childhood
  • What needs to change in the medical system to improve how people die
  • How conscious living and conscious dying are intertwined
  • Practices to become more awake and aware in life and in dying
  • What is the Center for Conscious Living and Dying
  • The benefits of community-supported end-of-life homes
  • How creativity can help us devise solve the problems we face around end-of-life care
  • Resources available from the Omega Home Network to help people start EOL care homes
  • How working with Ethan Sisser at his end of life inspired Aditi’s next steps to leap into the unknown

Links mentioned in this episode:

EOLPodcast

Ep. 374 Why We Need to Talk About Death with Lisa Pahl LCSW and Lori LoCicero

Learn how The Death Deck helps people have important and necessary conversations about death and dying.

My guests today are the co-creators of The Death Deck, a card game to help inspire conversations about death, dying and grief. Lisa Pahl LCSW is a Hospice Social Worker and ER Crisis Interventionist. Lori LoCicero is a writer and entrepreneur and runs a website to help others travel their paths through difficulty. Together they will share why they decided to create The Death Deck, how it can be used, and why conversations about death matter. Learn more about The Death Deck at the website:

www.thedeathdeck.com

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What The Death Deck offers and how it helps inspire conversations about death
  • Why it’s important to talk about death, dying and grief
  • How Lori feels she and her husband would have benefitted from talking about these issues before he became ill
  • New version (The EOL Deck) coming soon to help people who are facing terminal illness or at the end of life
  • Creative ideas for using The Death Deck in various situations

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 all who have made donations through Paypal or Buy Me a Coffee! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 372 Creating a Spiritual Care Directive with Rhonda LoPresti

Learn about the importance of having a directive to let others know about your spiritual wishes at the end of life, even if you are not religious or spiritual.

My guest Rhonda LoPresti is an end-of-life coach, home funeral guide and longtime practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. She has created a Spiritual Care Directive for Buddhists and also a Universal Spiritual Care Directive to guide people in expressing their spiritual wishes at the end of life. Rhonda offers a 9-week course called “Writing Your Spiritual Care Directive–A Buddhist Plan for the Time of Dying” and she shares why it’s important to plan ahead for our spiritual care at life’s end. Learn more at her website:

www.peacefullyprepared.com

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Rhonda became interested in working as an end-of-life coach and home funeral guide
  • What is a Spiritual Care Directive and why is it important
  • Why people who do not consider themselves religious or spiritual still need to consider their spiritual wishes at the end of life
  • Components of a spiritual care directive (for Buddhists and non-Buddhists)
  • Why a spiritual advocate is helpful at the end of life
  • Why some people may prefer not to be touched during the active dying process
  • What a “goodbye ceremony” might consist of
  • Why create a “spiritual will”

Planning is an act of kindness.”

Rhonda LoPresti

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County Soul Care Speaker Series October 12th at Noon Pacific: Register here
  • DDNBC Workshop with Barbara Karnes and Karen Wyatt October 13th at 6:30 pm Pacific: Register here
  • Contact Rhonda for a free copy of the Spiritual Care Directive: rhonda@peacefully-prepared.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 patrons Laura Sue Cleminson, Nancy R. and Charlotte VanVactor, and to Athena Berens for making a donation through Paypal! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 368 Why Death Education is Important with Karen Wyatt

Learn some ideas for how you might teach others in your community about death and dying and why you should.

In today’s solo episode I’ll share with you my thoughts on why death education is so essential in our society today. No matter what type of work you do in the end-of-life field (estate attorney, hospice staff, death doula, home funeral guide, green burial practitioner, bereavement counselor) you need to help educate your community about death, dying and grief if you want people to utilize your services. Right now we ALL need to become death educators in our own special way and I’ll talk about why that’s true and how you might get involved.

Watch on YouTube to see the slides

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • We are living longer and developing complex diseases (like Alzheimer’s) with increasing incidence.
  • Medical tech continues to advance rapidly allowing us to prolong life (even when patient’s don’t want that).
  • Our society is divided over ethical and moral dilemmas around end-of-life issues like medical aid in dying and removal of life support.
  • Being unprepared for death has a high financial cost (too much medical care and wasteful after-death care)
  • There is also and emotional and spiritual cost to ignoring death.
  • Where we need to be teaching about death, dying and grief:
    • The home – showing parents how to talk to their children about death
    • Schools – teaching high school and college students about death through classes, book clubs, discussion groups
    • Churches – clergy members need to know about EOL issues in order to better serve their congregations
    • Workplaces – employers and staff need to know how to deal with death and grief at work
    • Medical facilities – of course all medical personnel need much more education about death, grief, and how to deal with EOL decisions
    • Assisted living and nursing homes – staff also need to know how to handle grief, help residents with ACP, create sacred space for dying residents

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

EOLPodcast

Ep. 367 Increasing Death Awareness in Japan with Masatoshi Shoji

Learn how this man’s experience with grief led him to start a Death Café in Japan and become a death doula and Willow EOL educator.

My guest Masatoshi Shoji is a licensed acupuncturist, health communicator and medical translator in Sendai Japan. He started Death Café Sendai in his hometown in 2015 and since then has trained as a certified grief counselor, death doula and Willow EOL Educator. He shares why he first became interested in working with grief and death and his experiences with Death Café in Japan.

Visit his website

Watch on YouTube

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Masatoshi’s experience with grief as a young widower in Japan
  • What inspired him to create Death Café Sendai
  • How he organized and promoted his first Death Café
  • Resources that Masatoshi is using to further his own death education
  • The gradual growth in popularity of Death Café in Japan
  • The obstacles to talking about death in his community, including the use of implicit language
  • How Masatoshi felt socially marginalized as a young widower in his community
  • His goal to bring acupuncture to hospice and end-of-life care

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

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. 364 What to Do When I’m Gone: Mothers and Daughters on Loss and Grief with Hallie Bateman, Suzy Hopkins, and Gia Snyder

Learn about a charming book of wisdom shared by a mother to her daughter and how it touches on the universal experience of loss and grief.

In this episode I’m welcoming my daughter Gia Snyder as my co-host. Gia is a spiritual teacher and musician, who is currently in nursing school to become an RN. Our special guests are also a mother and daughter pair: Suzy Hopkins and Hallie Bateman. Suzy is a retired journalist who worked for four Northern California newspapers and founded a community magazine in the Sierra Foothills. Hallie is a writer and illustrator based in Los Angeles whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Buzzfeed and many others. Together Suzy and Hallie created the book: What to Do When I’m Gone: A Mother’s Wisdom to Her Daughter. The four of us will discuss the book, our mother-daughter relationships, and how we are all dealing with loss and grief as we navigate life and its changes.

Learn more about Gia’s work at: www.divinelygia.com

Learn more about Hallie’s work at: www.halliebateman.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Why Suzy and Hallie decided to write this book
  • The anxiety mothers feel over the prospect of leaving children behind when they die
  • Anticipatory grief experienced by daughters as their mothers age
  • The complicated nature of the mother-daughter relationship
  • The importance of wisdom passed on by mothers to their daughters
  • How we grieve the loss of our mothers differently than others
  • Afterlife communication with our mothers
  • How sharing food together helps us heal
  • Why recipes are a valuable part of the legacy we leave for family members

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 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. 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. 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. 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. 338 Ask Doctor Death: Tough Questions About Tough Topics with Terri Daniel and Karen Wyatt

Learn how Terri Daniel and I used our experiences with loss and grief to motivate the work we do today.

In this episode I’m featuring a conversation I had with the Rev. Dr. Terri Daniel on the Ask Doctor Death Podcast, of which I am an occasional co-host. Terri is the creator of the former Afterlife Awareness Conference and now the Conference on Death, Grief and Belief, which will be held July 2022 in Portland OR. We share a wide-ranging discussion that includes our own personal stories and our spiritual journeys, which have brought us where we are today. Learn more about Terri and the conference:

http://www.danieldirect.net

http://www.deathgriefandbelief.com

Download transcript here

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • The grief experiences that brought each of us to do work focused on end-of-life issues
  • What it means to us to be spiritual but not religious
  • How we each have found meaning in suffering and grief (and why we wish everyone could)
  • How toxic theology can harm people at the end of life or during grief
  • What we disagree with about some contemporary advice given to those who are grieving (especially on social media)

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 new patrons Monica Kaniewska and Katharina Mack! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLU Blog

Don’t Focus on Regrets at the End of Life

Why it’s not helpful to ask dying people what they regret about their lives and what to do instead.

“Don’t waste your time in anger, regrets, worries, and grudges. Life is too short to be unhappy.” 

Roy T. Bennett

For some reason there’s been a buzz in the last few years about finding out what people on their deathbeds regret most about their lives. We hear this often: “they regret what they didn’t do more than things they did.” That’s fine to say and tends to be good advice for those of us who aren’t facing our last days. We can learn from their mistakes and pledge to live our own lives differently from now on.

In fact, research on regret as an emotional state has shown that it may be helpful for young people as a reminder to reconsider their current path and make better choices for the future. But when regret occurs in situations where there is no chance to change the current circumstances or make things better, it can cause chronic stress and do both physical and emotional harm. Individuals who feel they have no path forward can experience guilt, self-blame, disappointment and depression as a result of spending their time focusing on their regrets.

Regret sells

However as a society we are drawn to learning about the regrets of other people because we fear making mistakes or missing out on opportunities. We are eager to benefit from someone else’s suffering if it means we can avoid the same path for ourselves. Advertisers rely on our fears by using regret as a motivator to sell products, such as “this person didn’t buy from us and paid more money for worse service.” We don’t want to be the foolish person who regrets their choice so we pay attention to messages like that and we buy products, books and courses that teach us how to avoid these costly mistakes.

Not helpful at the end

There’s nothing really wrong with this tactic except when it applies to people who are nearing the end of life. Because they may not have time to repair the past or forge a new direction in the future, they have no opportunity to truly learn from their regrets. Placing their attention on the mistakes of their lives may lead them to despair and a feeling of worthlessness as they prepare for the end, especially if you are unable to guide them beyond their self-blame.

Do this instead

Instead of asking “what regrets do you have from the past” we would be better advised to ask “what are you grateful for in your life” or even “are there things left undone that you would still like to address.” If the person wants to talk about regrets it’s fine to go there, but it’s not helpful to introduce the topic to them if they’re not already thinking about it. Viewing life as a series of mistakes or regretful events is painful and creates a spiral of negativity. But we can help people avoid that downward spiral and lessen their distress by asking better questions.

Listen and find meaning

People at the end of life generally benefit greatly from doing a life review and being able to tell their stories in a safe setting. The art of being a good listener includes helping them find meaning, connection and resolution through their own stories without judgment or shame. To truly help a person find peace at the end of life focus on forgiveness, gratitude for what life has offered, self-compassion and letting go of self-blame. But don’t ask about regrets unless you know you can lead them out of that dark place to a higher, more healing perspective.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 336 Better Place Forests: Reimagining Cemeteries with Sandy Gibson

Learn why forests are the cemeteries of the future.

My guest Sandy Gibson is the co-founder and CEO of Better Place Forests, a sustainable alternative to traditional cemeteries for families who choose cremation. Sandy founded several companies and worked in finance and software before founding Better Place Forests. He shares how experiencing significant loss early in his life helped inspire him decide to reimagine cemeteries and make them good for the entire world. You’ll learn how you can find “your tree” and plan ahead for a sustainable, earth-friendly disposition after you die. Learn more about Better Place Forests at the website:

www.betterplaceforests.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How the idea for Better Place Forests came about.
  • Why it is important to reimagine cemeteries right now.
  • How Better Place Forests are intended to be places for families and communities to come together.
  • How the service works for those “at need” or those choosing a tree in advance.
  • What a “spreading ceremony” consists of
  • The importance of rituals at the end of life
  • Where Better Place Forests are located and may expand in the future
  • How Better Place is planting trees to offset the carbon footprint of fire cremation
  • Advice for people experiencing loss and grief at this time

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 new patrons Louise O’Brien and Daraleen C. Shales! Your contributions make all the difference.