End of Life, EOLPodcast, Spirituality

Ep. 238 A Death Lived: A Doctor’s Memoir of Her Husband’s End of Life with Martha Calihan MD

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:

www.fivestoneswellness.com

Get the book here.

Listen here:

A Death Lived with Martha Calihan MD

This episode includes:

  • How an Integrative medical provider differs from a conventionally-trained physician
  • The challenges of playing dual roles of wife and physician
  • What doctors can do better to help patients and families navigate the end of life
  • Making medical decisions when the patient’s health status is constantly changing
  • The freedom that comes from “speaking the unspeakable”
  • One valuable question doctors need to ask caregivers: “If you come home and [your loved one] is unresponsive, do you know what you would do?”
  • Tips for having the “death talk” with loved ones
  • How to decide when it’s time to say no to medical interventions
  • The gift of Near Death Awareness and how it helps with fear and grief

It’s more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Charles’ last words – from “A Death Lived”

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Pre-order 7 Lessons for Living from the Dying here
  • Libby app
  • Dr. Calihan’s book: A Death Lived
  • Five Wishes document
  • Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan
  • Join the team at Patreon.com/eolu and 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!

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Spirituality

Ep. 237 Physician Burnout: Why Death Awareness Could Make a Difference

Learn how death-denial may contribute to physician burnout and how to change it.

In this solo episode I share my thoughts on the inner reasons why physicians may burn out and how increased death awareness could be a solution. Now more than ever we need death-informed education for all physicians, which would transform medical practice in general and especially end-of-life care.

Listen here:

Physician Burnout

This episode includes:

  • Survey showing that 44% of physicians report being burned out. largely due to external factors out of their control
  • Article by Dr. Keith Corl describes “moral injury” for physicians who are asked to practice in a way that violates their moral integrity
  • Multiple deeply-ingrained factors that arise from medical training and lead to lack of satisfaction in medical practice
  • 4 principles all med students should be taught:
    • Death is inevitable and not a failure
    • Death is a mystery we cannot control
    • Death makes life more precious
    • Dying is an opportunity for transformation
  • Doctors need to find balance between holding onto life and letting go when the time is right
  • Also need to learn to grieve over patient deaths in a positive way

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  Donna Peizer. Your contributions make all the difference!

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 232 Love and Death Over Dinner with Michael Hebb

Learn how the Death Over Dinner movement is impacting healthcare systems and changing our conversations about death (and love.)

My guest Michael Hebb is the founder of Death Over Dinner and author of the book Let’s Talk About Death (Over Dinner.) He discusses the value of conversation at the dinner table and particularly for discussing difficult topics like death. We learn how the movement has grown and now includes death dinners for healthcare providers. Michael also shares information about the upcoming event Love and Death, which will take place in April in Seattle. Learn more at the website:

www.DeathOverDinner.org

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What is Death Over Dinner
  • Consequences of the lack of meaning in our society and how Death Over Dinner is making a difference
  • New editions of DOD: Jewish, Australian, Indian, Brazilian with more to come
  • The universality of death and grief and how they can bring us together
  • When we face our mortality we have an increased capacity and opportunity for love and connection
  • The impact of Death Over Dinner for healthcare providers
  • The power of deep communication to transform medical teams and increase human-centered care and empathy
  • Why now is the time to “double down” on our conversations about death
  • The 6-step process for planning and hosting a Death Over Dinner event
  • The Pause app for smart phones and how to access it
  • About the Love and Death event in April
  • The End-of-Life Collective project and its future goals

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 June Caler, your contributions make all the difference!

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Spirituality, Tragedy

Ep. 231 How to Prepare for the Unimaginable as a Death-Aware Person

Learn what steps you can take now to be ready for whatever life brings you in the future.

NOTE: This episode is dedicated to the memory of Kobe and Gianna Bryant and 7 others who died in a helicopter crash on the morning of January 26th – an unimaginable tragedy.

In this solo episode I share my thoughts on ways we might begin now to prepare ourselves for the inevitable challenges of life–when disaster strikes and death comes for those we love. Though we can never be fully prepared for the uncertainties of life there are things we can do to increase our resilience and improve our chances of surviving “the unimaginable.”

Listen here:

This episode includes:

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is suffering too terrible to name …

We push away what we can never understand

We push away the unimaginable

From “HAMILTON”

Related episodes:

Join the team at Patreon.com/eolu and 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! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, your contributions make all the difference!

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes!

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 228 Training End-of-Life Doulas for the World with Suzanne O’Brien RN

Learn how you can get involved (for free) as a host for World Training Day and spread the word about how to care for people at the end of life.

My guest today is Suzanne O’Brien RN, hospice and oncology nurse and the founder of Doulagivers.com. She discusses how end-of-life doulas will change death and dying now and in the future and how she started World Training Day in 2019 to meet the needs of communities around the world for end-of-life training. Learn how you can get involved this year and host an event on 4/20/2020. Get more information at the World Training Day website:

www.worldtrainingday.org

Download Suzanne’s handout:

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What is an “end-of-life doula”
  • Why death is not a medical experience but a human experience
  • How EOL doulas can help with the current and future caregiver shortage
  • 3 levels of training for doulas
  • How advance planning leads to a good end of life
  • How EOL doula training is useful for everyone, including teachers, navigators and hospice workers
  • Online training available for level 1 doulas through Doulagivers.com
  • Why presence is one of the greatest gifts we can give to patients at the end of life
  • How to get involved (for FREE) in World Training Day on 4/20/2020 – anyone can be a host; sign up by January 20, 2020
  • Where to host a WTD event and how you can benefit from being a host
  • The ripple effect of planting seeds about end-of-life issues

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: Joyce Miller, Megan Carmichael, and Lynn; your contributions make all the difference!

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 227 Approaching the Tipping Point: Looking Back at a Decade of Change and Ahead to 2020

Learn how changes that began in the last decade foreshadow future growth in the death-positive movement.

In this final solo episode for 2019 I take a look back at some of the significant events of the past decade that helped to move forward the end-of-life movement. Then I share some tips and insights for continuing the momentum for positive change and increased death awareness in 2020. Find out how you can be part of the future as we move toward better care of the dying and the dead in our society.

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Previous events that helped set the stage for the momentum of the past decade (e.g. Five Wishes, Green Burial Council, Suzanne O’Brien’s community training for doulas)
  • Major movements of the past decade that have helped shift the narrative on death and dying:
    • National Home Funeral Alliance
    • The Conversation Project
    • Death Cafe
    • Ask a Mortician with Caitlin Doughty
    • Confessions of a Funeral Director with Caleb Wilde
    • Death Over Dinner
    • Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal
    • Recompose (formerly the Urban Death Project)
    • Brittany Maynard’s quest for death with dignity
    • formation of the EOL Doula Council
  • What we have learned from the natural childbirth movement
  • Tips for continuing the momentum in 2020:
    • Don’t wait – the time is now
    • It will take all of us to create change – form coalitions and collaborations
    • Create a unified message for the cause
    • Education is critical
    • Tailor the message for specific groups
    • Be in it for the long haul (growth takes time)

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Episode 145 and 146: What the EOL Movement Can Learn from the Natural Childbirth Movement
  • Episode 128: Why We Need Death Ed for Everyone Right Now
  • Interview with Deanna Cochran on EOL doula movement
  • Episode 186: How to Bring Death Doulas to the Hospice Team
  • Join the team at Patreon.com/eolu and 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 Patron Delana Schneider, your contributions make all the difference!

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Spirituality

Ep. 225 How to Make Difficult Times Better as a Death-Aware Person

Learn what it takes to bring your compassionate presence more fully to others in challenging circumstances.

In this solo episode I discuss how to be a person who makes every situation better simply by being there. Scientific studies have shown that by cultivating greater coherence in the heart’s energy field we can make a positive impact on the people around us who are going through difficulties. I share some tasks to focus on to help develop your own ability to be fully present with a compassionate heart for the good of everyone in our society.

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • The heart’s electromagnetic field is the most powerful in the body according to the HeartMath Institute
  • Coherence occurs when there is harmony between body, mind, spirit, and emotions
  • Coherent energy from one person helps create calmer energy for other people
  • End-of-life workers can make a big difference for patients and families by increasing the coherence of their own heart energy
  • 5 tasks to make difficult times better:
    • Be willing to show up when things fall apart
    • Be a safe container
    • Be a deep listener
    • Be a truth-teller
    • Be a way-shower

Heart coherence serves as a facilitator, adding strength and effectiveness to your care, compassion, intentions and actions to help the world.

Heartmath Institute

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: Raquel Wiltbank-Mateo and Karen Coupe; your contributions make all the difference!

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 220 What to Do When Someone Dies: How Lantern Shows the Way with Liz Eddy

Learn about a new online resource for people dealing with the death of a loved one.

podcasteddy

My guest Liz Eddy is the founder of Lantern.co, an innovative online resource for navigating the stressful and painful days after the death of a loved one. She shares how she was inspired to create this site and how it benefits those in need of information and guidance with all of the decisions that must be made after a death. Learn more at the website:

www.lantern.co

Listen here:

 

This episode includes:

  • How and why Liz created Lantern
  • How one person can make a big difference in the world
  • Why a “one-stop” resource site is valuable after the death of a loved one
  • How Lantern can help people make more affordable choices after a death
  • Educational resources available on Lantern
  • How technology can help people avoid being taken advantage of by vendors
  • How people connect with Lantern during a time of need
  • The “big vision” for Lantern in the future

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 Patreon.com/eolu,especially my newest Patron David Stubbers, your contributions mean everything to me!

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 217 Living a Death-Aware Life: How to Practice What We Preach

Learn why and how to intentionally develop your personal death-awareness in order to live your best life.

PodcastDeathAware

If you are a death-worker in any field you probably feel that you are highly aware of death and its many facets. But did you know that the human brain has a primal mechanism to protect us from thinking about and acknowledging our own personal death? Yes it’s true. We can be advanced teachers of death for other people and still be in denial that we ourselves are going to die. In this solo episode I’ll talk about how and why we need to strengthen our own death-awareness for the betterment of our lives and our work.

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

Good night Wesley. Good work. Sleep well. I shall likely kill you in the morning.

-from The Princess Bride

Links mentioned in this episode:

BartonWebinarloneliness

FREE webinar (REPLAY provided if you can’t attend live):

The Loneliness Epidemic

Click here to register.

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/eoluespecially my newest Patrons Kathryn Mattes, Kristy Lynn, and Astrid Raffinpeyloz, your contributions mean everything to me!

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 207 The Dance of Life and Death – Part 2: Balance

PodcastBalance

In this 4-part series of solo episodes I’m sharing wisdom about the intertwining of life and death in a perfect dance that spirals throughout eternity. Today I talk about balance, which is an essential element of any dance. Learn how to balance dying while living and living while dying! These thoughts are derived from my book What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying.

Get the book here.

Listen here:

 

This episode includes:

  • Thoughts on coping with tragedy and 5 tips for spiritual survival
  • Why we cannot live fully (and in balance) if we ignore death
  • How the medical system perpetuates the separation of death from life
  • How being mindful of death helps us let go of attachments and live with equanimity
  • Practices for bringing death awareness into daily life:
    • Morning gratitude practice
    • Mantra: This day is a gift
    • Notice death around you – including tragedies in the world
    • Observe the “little deaths” each day
    • Practice getting back into balance
  • Discover joie de vivre (the joy of living) and practice love through your final breath

Links mentioned in this episode:

Art of Dying Author Series_ September 6, 2019 7-8_30 pm

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 patron, Heather Thomas–your contribution means  everything to me!

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 206 The Dance of Life and Death – Part 1: Timing

PodcastDanceTiming

In this 4-part series of solo episodes I’m sharing wisdom about the intertwining of life and death in a perfect dance that spirals throughout eternity. Today I talk about timing, which is one of the essential components of any dance! These thoughts are derived from my book What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying.

WRM@flatcover

Get the book here.

Art of Dying Author Series_ September 6, 2019 7-8_30 pm

Join me for the Art of Dying Author Series on September 6th at the Open Center in New York City. I’ll be discussing What Really Matters and signing books! Learn more here.

Also check out my workshop September 7th: Earth Lessons for the Soul here

Life and Death, two partners holding one another closely, swaying eternally to the music of the Universe. 

Karen Wyatt MD from What Really Matters 

Listen here.

 

This episode includes:

  • Rainer Maria Rilke’s letters to the bereaved
  • Why death and life are locked in an inseparable dance
  • How we learn slowly about death through life’s experiences
  • How to cope with the unique timing of life’s events when it doesn’t fit our hopes and expectations
  • Why even our mistakes and failures turn out to be perfect

We must live in both, be intimately at home in both [life and death.]

– Rainer Maria Rilke, from The Dark Interval

darkinterval

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 Patreon.com/eolu, especially my new patrons, Michelle Wilkinson and Sandy Lemen–your contributions mean everything to me!

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 204 The Death Deck: Making it Fun to Talk About Death with Lisa Pahl, LCSW and Lori LoCicero

Learn about a popular new card game that helps people open up about death and have fun while they’re doing it.

PodcastLisaLori

My guests are hospice social worker Lisa Pahl and writer Lori LoCicero. They will share with us how they met and teamed up to create the fun new card game: The Death Deck. Learn all about the game and how you might start incorporating it into your work and family conversations. Learn more about the game at the website:

http://thedeathdeck.com

DD BOX

Get The Death Deck.

Listen here.

 

This interview includes:

  • How this writer and hospice social worker teamed up to create a game about death
  • How to use The Death Deck
  • Why games are helpful to support conversations about the end of life
  • How The Death Deck differs from other conversation games
  • Why The Deck Deck appeals to unique audiences like college students
  • How to use the game to augment special conversations with loved ones about death and dying
  • Where to learn more and get the game

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 Patreon.com/eolu – your contributions mean everything to me!

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 200 What I’ve Learned from 200 Episodes of the EOLU Podcast

Find out my insights and lessons learned after completing 200 episodes of this podcast.

Podcast200

I’m excited to have reached this milestone of 200 episodes of the podcast! Today I’ll look back at some of the interviews I’ve done and share my “take-aways” so far. Here’s hoping for 200 more episodes. Thank you for your support over the past 4 years.

Learn about End-of-Life University here.

Listen here.

 

This episode includes:

Other links from 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 Patreon.com/eolu!

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 199 The Wisdom of the Heart: Compassionate Care Training for EOL Doulas with Francesca Arnoldy

Learn how a training program for end-of-life doulas is preparing a wide variety of students to care for their loved ones with compassion and heart.

PodcastArnoldy

My guest Francesca Arnoldy has trained as both a birth and death doula and continues to guide clients through these passages at the beginning and end of life. She is the developer and program director of the End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate Program at the University of Vermont that provides training for not only doulas but also other medical providers and lay people in caring for the dying. She is the author of the book Cultivating the Doula Heart: The Essentials of Compassionate Care. Learn about her work at her website:

https://www.contemplativedoula.com

doulaheart

Get the book here.

Listen here.

 

This interview includes:

  • Similarities between birth and death
  • The unexpected success of the EOL Doula Certificate Course at the University of Vermont
  • Why the course stresses the importance of doing personal inner work before serving others
  • How the shift in death awareness seems to be accelerating now
  • The difference between sympathy, empathy and compassion
  • Why we need to avoid trying to “fix” others
  • What it means to truly “hold space” for others
  • How the doula program fills a gap in medical care and is being gradually accepted by the medical community in Vermont

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 Patreon.com/eolu!

EOLPodcast, mortal wisdom, Spirituality

Ep. 195 Why Death is Life’s Best-Kept Secret

Learn how to live your best life by embracing your mortality.

PodcastWisdom

In Part 8 of the Mortal Wisdom Series I’ll summarize the 7 lessons presented in the previous episodes and discuss the mindset we need to adopt in order to live fully and peacefully as mortal beings. Find out my tips and guideposts for living a death-aware life no matter what blessings or challenges we are given to navigate. Listen to Parts 1-6 first if you haven’t heard them yet!

Mortalwisdom

Listen here:

 

This episode includes:

  • Why each day should be a “good day to die”
  • How to carry death with you at all times as your wise advisor
  • How all 7 lessons from mortality fit and flow together:
    • Suffering
    • Love
    • Forgiveness
    • Presence
    • Purpose
    • Surrender
    • Impermanence
  • Why life is like an episode of “Chopped” cooking show: the “ingredients” life gives you are always a surprise and your task is to make something beautiful and delicious from them
  • 5 tips for living a death-aware life each and every day

Nake nula waun: I am ready for whatever comes.

– Lakota Sioux battle cry

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 Patreon.com/eolu, especially my new Patrons: Jennifer Turner, Laura Sodders and Tom Johnson-Medland!

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 192 You Might Die Tomorrow: A Global Movement for Living Fully with Kate Manser

Learn how this grassroots movement is helping to promote mortality awareness around the world.

PodcastManser

My guest Kate Manser is a writer and motivational speaker who created the You Might Die Tomorrow movement in response to her own grief experiences. She will discuss how she overcame her own fear of death and how she has spread You Might Die Tomorrow globally.

Learn more at her website.

zrCyG7%9RVGdHqcd6zWe4g

Get stickers here.

Listen here.

 

This interview includes:

  • How You Might Die Tomorrow got its start
  • The psychology of mortality awareness
  • How having a provocative message is helpful to promote death awareness
  • The benefits of Deathbed Meditation
  • How to mitigate the fear of death
  • How to create urgency around end-of-planning planning
  • How acknowledging mortality helps us find happiness
  • How to get You Might Die Tomorrow stickers to display

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 Patreon.com/eolu, especially my new Patrons, Judith Kubran, Laura Stanger, and Cole Imperi.

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 182 When You Die … You Will Not Be Scared to Die with Lindsay Tunkl

Learn how art and the written word can be a powerful tool for confronting our mortality.

PodcastTunkl

My guest Lindsay Tunkl is a conceptual artist and writer who explores subjects such as death, heartbreak, and the apocalypse. Her work has been shown at galleries in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Today she will talk about her book “When You Die You Will Not Be Scared To Die” and her workshop Parting Practice: Rituals for Endings and Failure. 

Learn more at Lindsay’s website:

http://lindsaytunkl.com

Tunklcover

Get the book here.

Listen here.

 

This interview includes:

  • How Lindsay’s fear of death inspired her to approach it through her art
  • Why the fear of death should not be shamed
  • How both death and emotionality are banished in our society
  • Description of Lindsay’s book of meditations
  • How the book can be used for a contemplative/journaling practice
  • The importance of both the mundane and the profound in life
  • How to reframe death by writing lists similar to the book
  • The ability to plan ahead for death is actually a luxury that is not afforded to everyone
  • How to use the book as a tool for exploring mortality in conversation

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 Patreon.com/eolu, especially my new patron Diane A. Kelly!

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 156 How to Talk to Strangers About Death & Dying

Learn some tips for starting important conversations about death with people you are meeting for the first time!

PodcastStrangers

 

IMG_4043In this episode I’ll share with you some stories about my recent yoga retreat and the many amazing conversations I was able to have with strangers about death and dying. I’ve got a few tips for you about starting up your own conversations about death with random strangers. (Here’s a photo from a sunrise hike I took during the retreat!)

 

Links to articles mentioned in this episode:

Tips for Talking With Your Loved Ones About the End of Life

How to Have Everyday Conversations About Death and Dying

How to Talk to Your Healthcare Provider About Your End-of-Life Wishes 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

You can still sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously online reading group and read one book each month about death, dying and the afterlife. Click here to learn more.

HealingChantsAlbumThis episode is sponsored by the album Healing Chants by Gia! You’ll love Gia’s angelic voice and ethereal music for meditation and relaxation. (Full disclosure: Gia is my daughter!)

You can listen to samples and purchase the album here.

Stay tuned to the end of the podcast as I’ll play her song Evocation as the Outro today!

A HUGE THANK YOU to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Karen Van Hoof! I appreciate your support very much. Thanks also to all of the other patrons – sign up and join the team for as little as $1 per month at Patreon.com/eolu!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Today I’ll tell you about my recent 5-day retreat at a yoga center where I went to relax, do yoga and finish revising one of my books. While I was there I had the pleasure of talking with many other visitors to the retreat center about death and dying, which was fascinating. Normally I don’t find many people out in the general public who want to talk about death. And while the people I conversed with weren’t necessarily interested in death before our discussion they each seemed to come away with a new understanding or sense of peace.

In order to confront our society’s fear of death we need many more conversations like this to happen every day with people who are not already tuned in to death awareness.

Each of us needs to step up and reach out to others to start a dialogue about death that might prove very helpful to our conversation partner and very informative for us.

Here are my tips for talking with strangers about death and dying:

  1. Choose the right time and place: my conversations generally took place at the table while I was sharing a meal with various strangers. Breaking bread together creates an automatic sense of connection and safety since we usually associate mealtimes with positive feelings. There is also often some free time between courses where conversation can happen naturally. It may also work well to talk about death during other shared activities like hiking, gardening or cooking. Watch for the right opportunity to arise.
  2. Find common ground first: make sure you have established a basic connection by talking about the meal (or the garden, or the hike, etc.) Since my conversation partners were also there for yoga classes we had an automatic common subject to begin chatting about while we established a connection.
  3. Perfect your “elevator speech” which is a very brief story you tell whenever someone asks “What do you do?” The idea is that your answer is so brief you can complete it during a short elevator ride from one floor to the next. So think of one or two sentences you can use to answer that question and give another person an idea of your work. My answer at the yoga retreat was: “I’m a retired hospice physician who now writes books.” Tell them enough to garner their interest and curiosity and lead naturally to more questions. I purposely avoided mentioning death and dying in my initial introduction so that I wouldn’t frighten anyone away before we even got started. But most individuals I encountered were intrigued and asked more either about the hospice work or about the books I’m writing. Both of those questions led directly to a talk about death and dying. On several occasions the other person immediately brought up a story of a loved one or friend on hospice. Many times it was a story that desperately needed to be told and also came with questions about death, dying and hospice. I was amazed by the quality of conversation that occurred in these instances and the need for accurate information. I’m convinced that many people out there really do need to talk about death and dying but rarely encounter anyone they can speak to, which is where you come in!
  4. Hone your listening skills: for these conversations focus on listening rather than telling your own story. Watch for cues from the other person that there is a need to say something and encourage them to talk by asking a question or two and stopping to listen attentively. We are all passionate about our work and other endeavors and there will be opportunities to share that at some point in the future. Initially it’s more important to just listen and hold space so that the other person can ask questions and get the support they need. Rely on your intuition to tell you when that person is ready for a little nudge or encouragement to go deeper into their feelings.
  5. Share just enough information: again it is important to be a good listener so when you do describe your work don’t go overboard. Use simple and accurate terms to convey what you do but pause and allow the other person to ask for the information they need.

As you’ll hear when you listen to this episode I was able to have meaningful conversations with different people every day while I was at the retreat. These are some of the most important discussions we can be having right now so take a chance and strike up a conversation with a stranger about death and dying!

There will be a new episode every Monday so be sure to tune in again! And if you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes.

Until next time …

Face Your Fear            BE Ready              Love Your Life 

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End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 130 How Death Awareness Can Change the World

Learn about studies that have shown the positive benefits of death awareness and why we need more of it in the world.

PodcastDeathAwareness

DEATHEDforeveryoneIn this episode I share some recent studies that validate the fact that being aware of death has positive effects on behavior toward others. This is evidence that we need more classes, workshops, books, films, and discussion groups about death in order to promote health, peace, tolerance, and compassion in the world.

Read the companion article on Thrive Global here.

Remember you can still sign up for the online reading group A Year of Reading Dangerously by clicking here. Join us to read one book about death, dying and the afterlife each month during 2018!

Slide01You can also get the Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class here if you are interested in teaching a class in your community or for college or high school students. In addition when you sign up for the guidelines you could become part of a work group during the month of  March to create a death and dying class.

Sign up for the guidelines!

THANK YOU to all of you who help support this podcast with your donations on Patreon.com/eolu!!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Kenneth Vail and his colleagues at the University of Missouri recently did a review of several studies on death awareness and behavior. They found that increased death awareness was associated with several positive behaviors that could lead to needed changes in how we live our lives and connect with one another. Here are some of the findings:

  • Helping behaviors increased when people were given subtle reminders of their mortality, such as being near a cemetery. These positive behaviors include compassion, tolerance, empathy and pacifism.
  • Pro-environmental behaviors increased for people with heightened death awareness
  • Positive health behaviors such as quitting smoking, starting an exercise program, and performing breast self-exams increased for people who became aware of death
  • People with fundamentalist religious values who had previously rejected members of other religions were more likely to show compassion toward those of other groups when they experienced greater death awareness

In our world that is currently suffering  with environmental degradation, polarization of society, violence, and unhealthy behaviors perhaps increased death awareness could hold some promise for our survival. Join me in improving death awareness this year by reading books and teaching classes on death and dying!

Tune in every Monday for a new episode and if you enjoy this content consider leaving a review on iTunes (thank you – it makes a big difference!)

Until next week remember ….

Face Your Fear          BE Ready          Love Your Life

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End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 128 Why We Need Death Education for Everyone Right Now

Learn why the Death Education movement is vitally important right now for our society and get inspired to teach your own class about death and dying!

PodcastDeathEd

DEATHEDforeveryoneThis week I’m continuing my focus on death education by discussing some important reasons why right now we desperately need more death-ed in every aspect of our society. Learn how you might become a death educator in your own community and start to share your knowledge to help others become aware of death.

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Click here to get your free Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class to help you create your own class!

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS: 

You can still join A Year of Reading Dangerously and start reading books about death and dying with 700 other people around the globe! You’ll get to take part in live Q&A discussions with the authors of many of the books we are reading. For February we are reading Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty–and she’ll be joining our discussion at the end of the month! Sign up now by clicking here!

Thanks again to all of my supporters at Patreon.com/eolu! Your generosity and encouragement mean everything to me! Become a patron for as little as $1 per month–where else can you do so much good with just $1? Go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more.

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Today I’m discussing why we need death education everywhere in our society and here are some of the places where it should take place:

  • Home – parents need to learn how to talk about death and dying with their children rather than shielding them from the reality of death
  • Schools – high school and college classes are a perfect place to introduce death and dying to young, curious students who can only benefit from learning more about death. (Next week I’ll share an interview on this podcast with Stacy Smith who teaches The Psychology of Death & Dying to college students, and on EOLU at the end of February I’ll present an interview about a high school elective on Death and the Meaning of Life with the teacher and 3 of his students.
  • Churches – clergy of all faiths need to be educated about death and dying so that they can better support their congregants on end-of-life issues within their belief system
  • Workplaces – employers need to understand the impact of death and grief on their employees in order to create supportive policies for bereavement leave; workers need to know how to interact with co-workers who are suffering with illness and grief
  • Medical system – doctors, nurses, and all other providers of healthcare need education in how to get comfortable with death, talk about it with patients and families, guide decision-making, initiate conversations with patients
  • Hospitals and nursing homes – need education to create sacred spaces for dying, to support patients and families at the end of life and honor patients’ wishes

Some of the reasons why death education is so important right now are:

  • We are living longer and the incidence of complex diseases like Alzheimer’s is increasing which creates a need for better advance planning. Patients and families need to prepare for the type of medical care and caregiving that may become necessary and understand how they can provide for those possibilities in the future.
  • Medical technology continues to advance at a rapid rate. Our ability to forestall death and keep a body alive has far outstripped our willingness to grapple with difficult end-of-life decisions. We need education to help people plan and prepare for the future and be pro-active about the care they receive. Studies show that those who think and talk about death are more likely to put their wishes in writing, to talk with others about their wishes, and to stop medical treatment when it is no longer helping.
  • Ethical and moral dilemmas about end-of-life issues are splitting our society and families. Debates over physician-assisted dying and discontinuing medical care when it is not helping are going to increase with the aging of the Baby Boom generation. According to Pew Research Center surveys: 47% of Americans favor assisted-dying laws and 49% are opposed; 66% believe that there are times when doctors should stop treatment and allow patients to die a natural death, but 31% believe that doctors should always do everything possible to prolong life. These opposing perspectives are likely to be present in families too, especially if no advance planning has been done.
  • The high cost of being unprepared for death. Lack of advance care planning can lead to higher medical expenses, especially if the patient receive extreme care that was not actually warranted or wanted. Families unprepared for funeral planning are more likely to choose higher cost options and be vulnerable to unscrupulous marketing practices when they are grieving. Failure to plan ahead and put wishes in writing can cause increased stress and guilt for family members who must make decisions without any guidance.
  • The emotional and spiritual cost of ignoring death. As described in episode 127, death is our greatest teacher about life. Those who fail to recognize the inevitability of death are less likely to live to the fullest and appreciate the moment because they think they have plenty of time.

If you care about any of these issues and have been learning about death and dying by listening to this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series, you are the perfect person to become a “death educator.” Start by sharing what you’ve learned with family and friends and consider putting together your own class in your community to help educate others. 

Slide01You can download my free pdf: Teaching Guidelines for a Death & Dying Class and get some tips and tactics for starting your own community death-ed class! When you download the handout you’ll receive an invitation to a special work group I’m putting together in March on brainstorming your class.

Click here to get the guidelines!

 

Stay tuned to future episodes of this podcast to get more information about death education: next week I’ll share an interview with Stacy Smith about teaching college students about death and dying. On February 22nd I’ll present an interview on End-of-Life University with the teacher and students from a high school death-ed elective.

I hope you feel inspired to become a “death educator” in whatever capacity suits you, whether you simply share your knowledge with family and friends or start a class in your community!

If you enjoy this podcast please consider leaving a review on iTunes – it will be greatly appreciated!

Until next week remember:

Face Your Fear          BE Ready           Love Your Life

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