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. 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.

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.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 339 Feng Shui for Hospice Patients with Char Tarashanti

Learn how paying attention to the small details of the surroundings can make a big difference in the wellbeing of hospice patients.

My guest Char Tarashanti is a retired Hospice Chaplain and Certified Feng Shui Consultant. She shares how the principles of Feng Shui can be applied to the care of hospice patients and improve the physical environment as well as the harmony and balance of the space. Her practical suggestions make it simple for any of us to create more pleasing and appealing surroundings for people at the end of life. Download her handout here:

Handout

Read Transcript

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What is Feng Shui
  • How death is viewed within the Feng Shui tradition
  • How Char became interested in Feng Shui and in hospice work
  • The benefits for patient and caregiver of creating a more harmonious space
  • The essential elements of Feng Shui and how to apply them to a hospice room
  • How to manage clutter and get better organized in a home hospice setting
  • The two most important features of Feng Shui for hospice patients
  • How caregivers should communicate about any changes being made in the home before beginning the process

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 Aby Fy and Anne Janssen and to Richard Schneider for increasing your monthly pledge! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 337 The Hospice Doctor’s Widow: A Caregiver’s Journal with Jennifer O’Brien

Learn about a beautiful, artistic journal that explores the caregiver’s journey through dying and grief.

My guest this week is Jennifer O’Brien, author of the creative, gorgeous journal: The Hospice Doctor’s Widow. She discusses her journey as she cared for her husband who was a hospice and palliative care physician diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. We talk about grief and loss and caregiving in this intimate conversation. Learn more at her website:

www.hospicedrswidow.com

Get the book here

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Why this book is ideal for caregivers and people dealing with grief
  • How Jennifer created the art for the book
  • How Jennifer incorporated her husband’s wisdom into the book
  • What is “Precious Time” and how did that inform the way she and Bob spent his last days of life together
  • Navigating anticipatory grief for caregivers
  • Why the patient and the caregiver are going through two different processes
  • Why the survivors’ journey can be more difficult than the patient’s journey
  • What is the Triad of Certainty
  • Advice for caregivers
  • The At Peace Toolkit – A Guide to Being at Peace with End of Life

‘Precious Time’ is when you say what you need to say and don’t say what you will later regret.”

from The Hospice Doctor’s Widow by Jennifer O’Brien
  • A Year of Reading Dangerously – Register here
  • Get the At Peace Toolkit from Jennifer 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, especially my new patrons G. Thackrey and Mary Susan Graham! Your contributions make all the difference.

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.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 334 Terramation: A Green Option for Death Care with Micah Truman and Brie Smith

Learn about an exciting environmentally friendly option for disposition after death.

My guests today are Micah Truman, the CEO and Founder of Return Home.com, and Brie Smith who is the Services Director for the company. Return Home is designed to ensure a sustainable future for the planet by using terramation, an environmentally friendly option for disposition after death. They discuss the process of terramation (a form of human composting) and how it is available right now to people from all 50 states at Return Home. You can learn more at their website:

www.returnhome.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How the inspiration for Return Home came about
  • What is terramation and how it works
  • The benefits of terramation over fire cremation or natural burial
  • How Return Home is able to service clients from other states (outside of Washington state)
  • What is possible for funerals and memorial services at Return Home
  • The end product of terramation and what can be done with it
  • What EOL educators should teach their clients about terramation and where to find resources
  • How one can make plans in advance to utilize the services of Return Home

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 new patron fotoguyz! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 333 Swedish “Death Cleaning”: The Perfect Way to Begin a New Year with Karen Wyatt

Learn how the practice of “death cleaning” can simplify your life and help you prepare for the end of life.

In this first solo episode of 2022 I share what I’ve been learning about the Swedish practice of döstädning, which translates as “death cleaning.” This idea was first shared by Margareta Magnusson in her book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter.” She describes the Swedish custom of sorting through and downsizing material possessions in later life in order to lessen the burden your loved ones will experience after you die. I’m adopting this custom this year as part of my new perspective for this New Year and I think it’s something we could be teaching our patients and clients along with educating them about advance directives. Take a listen and see what you think! Let me know if you have done death cleaning in the past or are planning to start now.

Get Margareta Magnusson’s book

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Why “death cleaning” is actually minimalism for seniors
  • How this practice can benefit us in our daily lives
  • The realization that material objects only have the value we invest in them while we are alive
  • The impermanence of every single possession we own
  • Tips for “death cleaning”
  • How to declutter your digital assets as well as your living space
  • Why you should create a grief ritual as you declutter to help you release the energy contained in your possessions

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 new patrons Sue Skeates and Lucy Karl; and thank you Diane Button for increasing your annual pledge! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 319 At the Bedside: Tools for Caring for the Dying with Gabrielle Elise Jimenez

Learn how this hospice nurse and end-of-life doula is making a difference by sharing the tools she has learned.

My guest Gabrielle Elise Jimenez is a hospice nurse, end-of-life doula and conscious dying educator. She is also the author of three books intended to teach others how to provide care to their own dying loved ones. She talks about the tools she feels are most important for caregivers to learn and she also shares information about her Facebook page that exploded with new members when people started posting about their grief. Learn more about her books and courses at her website:

www.thehospiceheart.net

Get her books here

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Gabby ended up becoming a hospice nurse and an end-of-life doula
  • The tools needed to care for a dying loved one at home
  • How to help families with grief in hospice
  • How Gabby tapped into the huge need for grief support that exists in our world right now
  • Advice for healthcare professionals who need to recognize their own grief
  • How to stay in balance while doing emotionally challenging work
  • The impact of COVID on hospice workers
  • 3 things everyone should know about death and dying
  • How to live our best lives by recognizing that we will die one day

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. 317 It’s Your Funeral! A “Fun” Guide to Planning for the End with Kathy Benjamin

Learn about a helpful and humorous workbook for funeral planning.

My guest Kathy Benjamin is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on various sites including Uproxx, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket, and Cracked.com. She is the author Funerals to Die For and the recently released It’s Your Funeral: Plan the Celebration of a Lifetime Before it’s Too Late. She shares how she got interested in writing about funerals and some of the fascinating facts she’s learned over time about the importance of funerals throughout history and across all societies. We also discuss her set-by-step guide to creating a great funeral. Connect with Kathy at her website:

www.KathyBenjamin.com

Get It’s Your Funeral here.

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Kathy got inspired to write two books about funerals
  • How she did research for the topics in the book
  • Why funerals are important and how it helps to plan one in advance
  • Some of the components of a good funeral to consider in your planning:
    • Venue
    • Funeral roles
    • Theme
    • Eulogy
    • Burial options
  • Interesting funeral traditions from around the world
  • Challenges for funeral planning during the pandemic
  • Why It’s Your Funeral could be a good humorous gift for a milestone birthday
  • How to use the book to get started on planning your funeral now

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Follow Kathy on social media:
    • Facebook: facebook.com/kab18
    • Twitter: @KathyBenjamin

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. 315 “Deep Dive” Part 1: Hospice and EOL Doulas with Deanna Cochran RN

Learn the “long-view” of end-of-life care and how hospice care has changed over time to now include death doulas.

My guest Deanna Cochran is a registered nurse with certification in hospice and palliative care who has served as a private EOL doula since 2005, so she is truly a pioneer in the movement. She is the founder of the CareDoula® School of Accompanying the Dying and the author of “Accompanying the Dying: Practical, Heart-Centered Wisdom for End-of-Life Doula and Healthcare Advocates.” Today we begin a “deep-dive” conversation that covers our experiences in nursing and medical training, hospice of the past vs today’s hospice, and why death doulas are so important right now. Tune in next week for Part 2 of our discussion! Learn more about Deanna’s work and the trainings she offers at her website:

www.certifiedcaredoula.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • How Deanna was first introduced to sitting vigil by her grandmother
  • The lack of death training in nursing and medical schools
  • Why we have to be aware of our own suffering before we can sit with the suffering of others
  • Why death doulas are needed now more than ever in our busy and understaffed healthcare system
  • How hospice care has changed over the years
  • What to do if you are receiving inadequate care from a hospice
  • How the medical system falls short of whole-person care by focusing primarily on the physical aspect of patients
  • Why personal experience matters a great deal in caring for the dying
  • The value of stillness and being quiet in end-of-life care

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 supporters Alix Lutnick and Nancy Kendrick! Your contributions make all the difference.

EOLPodcast

Ep. 307 Life.Death.Whatever: We All Know How This Ends with Anna Lyons and Louise Winter

Learn how an EOL doula and funeral director in the UK have teamed up to creatively shift the conversation around death and dying.

My guests Anna Lyons and Louise Winter are the creative team behind the popular Life.Death.Whatever initiative to redesign the dialogue around death and dying. Anna is an end-of-life doula and Louise is a progressive funeral director in the UK. They share how their partnership has allowed them to address the full spectrum of end-of-life issues from terminal diagnosis to the dying process to after-death care and bereavement–all of which are beautifully covered in their newly released book We All Know How This Ends: Lessons About Life and Living from Working with Death and Dying. Learn more at their website:

www.lifedeathwhatever.com

Follow on Instagram: @lifedeathwhat

Get the book here

Listen here

This episode includes:

  • How Anna and Louise teamed up to create Life.Death.Whatever
  • The inspiration behind writing this book
  • How they developed two projects for public participation: Five Things and Unsaid
  • Why it is important to create links between end-of-life and after-death care
  • Sensitive or “taboo” topics covered in the book like sex during illness and at the end of life and what happens to the body during decomposition and cremation
  • Why they included COVID in their new book and the importance of acknowledging the pandemic when we talk about end-of-life issues
  • How to submit your own writing for Five Things or Unsaid
  • The most surprising things they’ve learned about life through working with death

Eat the gelato – especially if it’s salted caramel.”

from We All Know How this Ends by Anna Lyons and Louise Winter

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Submit your Five Things or Unsaid writing to submissions@lifedeathwhatever.com
  • Sign up for the 2021 online reading group A Year of Reading Dangerously at this link
  • Support your local bookstore by buying my books on Bookshop and Indiebound: 7 Lessons for Living from the Dying and The Journey from Ego to Soul
  • Subscribe to this podcast on AppleGoogleSpotifyiHeart RadioStitcher Radio
  • Check out the Series I’ve recorded in the past here
  • 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! Your contributions make all the difference!

EOLPodcast

Ep. 283 Reshaping the Future of Advance Care Planning with Patty Burgess, Fred Mirarchi MD and Sheila Schultz

Learn about video advance directives and how to get involved in this game-changing innovation for the future of advance care planning.

In this episode I host three guests – Patty Burgess, Dr. Fred Mirarchi, and Sheila Schultz – who have partnered together to create MIDEO University, the only organization to train and certify Advance Care Planning Educators (ACPE’s) in every community. They share how MIDEO’s video advance directives are revolutionizing end-of-life and emergency care in hospitals and how they are training doulas, advance care planners and other healthcare professionals to become paid educators using the MIDEO approach. Learn more at their website:

www.YourVoiceDirectives.com

Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What MIDEO is and why Dr. Mirarchi was inspired to create a video advance directive
  • How Patty and Sheila became inspired to partner with Dr. Mirarchi to create an educational program for end-of-life doulas and other healthcare professionals
  • How MIDEO works and what differentiates it from other advance directives
  • How certification as an ACPE can benefit an end-of-life doula professionally
  • Why advance care planning should not focus solely on end-of-life scenarios
  • Why video directives are important during this time of the COVID pandemic
  • How an ACPE can benefit primary care health providers in their work with patients
  • How to participate in MIDEO University and become certified as an ACPE

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!

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. 171 The Best Gift You Can Give Your Family This Holiday Season

Learn how planning ahead and being ready for the unexpected can be a special gift for your loved ones this year.

PodcastEOLplans

 

During the holidays we all want to find the perfect gift for our family members that will show them our love and bring joy to their lives. But face it … in this age of consumerism most people already have more possessions than they need and we have sadly littered our planet with excessive material goods that no one wants or can use. Here’s an idea for a gift you can give now that will bring peace of mind and relief to your loved ones some day in the future: plan ahead for the end of your life, gather your most important documents, and have a conversation with the people closest to you about your wishes. 

Download the Checklist for this episode here: 

BE Ready

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Support this podcast on Patreon.com/eolu with a small monthly contribution. Thank you to my latest patron Jensen A! Your generosity is much appreciated!

View the latest webinar with Jane Barton: Collaborative Care for Caregivers – How to Ask for Help at this link:

Collaborative Care Webinar

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Creating an end-of-life file that contains all of your most important documents along with your wishes for healthcare and after-death care is a task that will benefit you as well as your loved ones in the future. You will be saving them from a great deal of stress and frustration if they won’t have to search for your papers or guess what you might want for yourself  when you reach the end of life. Why not use the holiday season as a motivator to complete your file and offer as a gift of love to your family!

This episode includes:

  • Ideas for storing your documents
  • Why it’s important to gather important information in one place so your loved ones can find it
  • Why you need to complete your advance directive (or living will) and choose a healthcare proxy now rather than later
  • The benefits of planning your funeral and burial in advance
  • How to view end-of-life planning as a gift of love for those who care about you

Links mentioned in this episode:

Tune in next Monday for another new episode. 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

karen-signature

 

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 159 How to Make Difficult End-of-Life Decisions for a Loved One

PodcastDecisions

 

 

purposequestionIn this episode I share my thoughts on how to approach the very difficult task of making an end-of-life decision about the treatment a loved one should receive. Many people are called upon to be decision-makers in these challenging situations and this episode serves as a guide for choosing the best option for someone we love. Download the handout below:

Guide for Difficult EOL Decisions

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

This episode is sponsored by Suzanne O’Brien and her training program for caring for others at the end of life at Doulagivers.com and by your generous donations on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Join the team and receive special bonuses as a thank-you!

Thank you to all of my patrons and sponsors! Your support means everything to me!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Download the handout here:

Guide for Difficult EOL Decisions

Every day families are called upon to make nearly impossible decisions about the type of care a loved one should receive as they near the end of life. Here are some suggestions for how to navigate this challenging situation when there is no advance directive available for guidance:

  • Gather medical information from all healthcare providers involved in care
  • Ask direct questions:
    • What is the diagnosis and what complications have occurred?
    • What is the effectiveness of the recommended treatment?
    • What are the chances for recovery or improvement?
    • Are there side effects from the treatment or will it cause additional suffering?
    • What will happen if treatment is stopped?
    • What would you do if this were your loved one?
  • Get expert advice and guidance from a palliative care team if available in your hospital
  • Remember past conversations with your loved one that might give you clues as to his or her preferences for the end of life
  • Consider the statistics that most Americans prefer to die at home and most do not want aggressive treatment to prolong life in the face of an incurable condition
  • Ask your loved one for guidance by expressing your concern and your desire to make the best decision. Even though your loved one cannot verbalize, they can hear you – listen for any intuitive or “felt” guidance that might come to you about the best choice to make.
  • Be gentle with yourself and recognize that you have done your best in a challenging situation
  • Seek support from others outside your family

Tune in next week for another episode! Share this content with others who might it helpful and consider leaving a review on iTunes.

Until next time …

Face Your Fear        BE Ready         Love Your Life

karen-signature

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 78 Change Happens: How to be Prepared for the Ultimate Transition

What does it take to be ready and at peace when you reach the end of life? Here are some thoughts on how to prepare.

 

podcastroadmap

In this episode we’ll take a look at what you need to do to prepare for the future, particularly the end of life. You’ll find out how to BE Ready for whatever life brings your way!

ANNOUNCEMENT:

slide01The Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning Course is finally available! Click here to learn more.

This 4-module course is like having your own personal consultation with an end-of-life physician (me!) who guides you through completing your paperwork one step at a time!

Check it out!

supportonpatreon-e1412764908776This podcast is sponsored through the EOLU donation page at Patreon.com/eolu. By contributing just $1 or $2 per month you can help support the podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series. If you  become a supporter I will happily promote your book, website, cause or organization on a future episode of the podcast! THANK YOU to my latest patron Sylvie and to all current patrons!!

IN THE NEWS:

  1. Facebook announces it will offer employees up to 20 days of paid bereavement leave and 6 weeks of paid leave to care for an ill loved one.
  2. A study done by U of Colorado Anschutz showed that oncologists are reluctant to have conversations with patients about their prognosis and patients seem equally unwilling to discuss the difficult facts about their diagnosis. This demonstrates the need for better preparation for the end of life BEFORE the onset of a life-limiting illness.

Change Happens: How to be Prepared for the Ultimate Transition

17153795 - are you ready illustration design over a white backgroundWhat steps should you take now to be fully prepared for later life? I like to break them down into 3 categories: Paperwork, People, and Purpose.

Here are some suggestions for your own preparations:

  1. Paperwork:
  • Make sure you have completed an estate plan and/or will to protect your financial assets
  • Appoint someone to be your financial power of attorney AND a separate  person as your medical power of attorney
  • Complete your advance directive (or living will)
  • Plan for your funeral and burial
  • Gather important documents, account numbers, passwords, etc. into on file where they will be accessible in the future (Check out the BE Ready Checklist for a list of all these documents you should gather)

2. People:

  • Tie up “loose ends” in your life by practicing forgiveness
  • Make amends with the people closest to you
  • Say “I love you” whenever you have the opportunity
  • Talk with your loved ones about your healthcare wishes
  • Talk with your doctors (and also spiritual advisor or attorney if relevant) about your end-of-life wishes
  • Be prepared to care for an ill or dying loved one at home if that should become necessary

3. Purpose:

  • Think about your own sense of meaning and purpose in life–are you living life fully in each moment?
  • Practice being present in the moment by taking up mindfulness or using deep breathing
  • Recognize that your purpose is not really something you hope to accomplish in the future; it lies in how you live your life each moment
  • Face your fear of death so that you can fully prepare and then relax and enjoy all that your life offers to you

Click here to download the End-of-Life Preparedness Assessment to see if you are ready!

Tune in every Monday for a new episode. Until the next time, remember:

Face Your Fears.                     BE Ready.                Love Your Life.

karen-signature

 

 

EOLPodcast, Hospice, Spirituality

Ep. 77 Managing Family Conflict at the End of Life

What do you do when a family (your own or a patient’s) is crumbling due to unhealed resentments and irreconcilable differences? Find out now.

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In today’s episode I’ll share my best tips for helping families move through conflict toward resolution during stressful times like the death of a loved one. I’ve had lots of experience with this work during my years as a hospice doctor so be prepared for a longer-than-usual episode!

Announcements:

slide01My new course Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning is almost ready for release (just a few days away as I record this!) The course is simple yet comprehensive and will help you examine your mindset, values, beliefs, and fears about death before you make decisions about your end-of-life healthcare. Go to eoluniversity.com/roadmap to learn more and sign up to be notified as soon as the course is released.

Sponsorship:

supportonpatreon-e1412764908776This podcast is sponsored through the EOLU donation page at Patreon.com/eolu. By contributing just $1 or $2 per month you can help support the podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series. If you  become a supporter I will happily promote your book, website, cause or organization on a future episode of the podcast! THANK YOU to all current patrons!!

Managing Family Conflict at the End of Life:

Families facing the death of a loved one are particularly prone to be divided by the resurgence of old conflicts and resentments. Over my years as a hospice doctor I have seen many families split apart by their differences at a time when they most need to be united.

Most of these families had longstanding grievances that had been buried and ignored over the years, only to rise to the surface under the stress of a loved one’s death. Sibling rivalries, parental favoritism, divorce, and competition for inheritances are the most common reasons for these resentments. In addition many families are also divided over religious and political differences, which is an especially prevalent problem right now.

One of the important functions of hospice staff members and other end-of-life workers is to assist splintered families with healing and resolution of their conflicts, whenever possible. But sometimes we are called to assist our own families when challenges arise. Here are some tips for being a peacemaker for a fractured family:

  • Remain neutral on the issues of conflict. As much as possible leave your own biases, preferences and beliefs at the door if you hope to help resolve a disagreement. This will be much easier if you are not emotionally entangled in the conflict. But even if you are, you need to learn to become a “Witness” to the situation (a higher state of consciousness that allows you remain detached.)
  • Listen to all sides of the argument. Spend time with each person involved in the conflict until you can grasp their perspective. If you are part of the disagreement then at least try to understand the point of view of the others involved in the situation. As soon as you begin to understand how and why the others feel the way they do then you have taken a huge step toward reconciliation.
  • Avoid trigger topics. Political and religious differences may complicate family conflicts at the end of life but are usually not reconcilable. So it is best to “agree to disagree” about these points of view and set them aside so that the focus can be on healing other issues.
  • Be present. By staying calm and unemotional you can prevent the conflict from escalating into an all-out war. Practice mindfulness to help strengthen your ability to be present so that your own emotions don’t flare up when you are trying to help others.
  • Find common ground. As you listen carefully to the stories of each opponent in the disagreement you may recognize certain common threads–areas where they actually share the same perspective without realizing it. Gather these threads so that you can remind those in conflict that are some things they have in common. Help them untie around the things that matter most (like doing what’s best for their loved one.)
  • Learn the wishes of the dying loved one (if possible.) If you can still communicate with the patient you may find out that she has a wish for her family to reconcile. You can use this wish to help draw the combatants together in their desire to please and comfort the one they love. Let the patient’s wishes become a “magnet” around which the rest of the family gradually comes together.
  • Have patience. Don’t try to force a reconciliation by rushing into a family conference or intervention. Allow for some separation initially and let the gaps between individuals gradually begin to close.

The bottom line is that families who don’t wait until the end of life to resolve their differences have a much easier time negotiating the challenges of death and dying. But that’s not the case for most families. Most are left to rehash old sibling issues, betrayals, disappointments, and wounds during the last days of their loved one’s life when they should be sitting at the bedside offering love and comfort.

Start working through your own resentments now–practice love and forgiveness earlier in life and your final days will be blessed. If you need extra help consider checking out the Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning or the book What Really Matters. You’ll find guidance and support from me for your journey!

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Tune in every Monday for a new episode! Until next week remember:

Face Your Fears.                 BE Ready.                   Love Your Life.

karen-signature

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 75 Perfect Your Paperwork: Mistakes to Avoid in Your End-of-Life Planning

It’s not enough to get your paperwork done … make sure it’s done right!

eolmistakes

In this episode we’ll look at several common mistakes people make when doing their advance directives–mistakes that could make it more difficult for their end-of-life wishes to be carried out. Learn how to get your paperwork right so you can relax!

supportonpatreon-e1412764908776This podcast is supported through the generous donations of listeners made on Patreon.com/eolu. When you donate just $1 or $2 per month I will thank you by mentioning your name on the podcast and promoting your cause!

Thank you to my latest patron: Jayne Boulton–I appreciate your support Jayne!

In the News:

An online article from Managed Healthcare Executive asks the question: Can Data Analytics Aid in End-of-Life Care Decisions? The author cites a recent study from JAMA that shows 70% of MD’s reporting that they have not been trained to have end-of-life conversations with patients and 73% of patients over the age of 65 have never had an advance care planning discussion with a doctor.

Medical data analysts have suggested that EHR’s might be useful to help health systems identify patients in need of end-of-life conversations. The article points out that current management of advance directives on EHR’s is poor since on average it requires clicks on 12 different screens to locate a patient’s AD, which takes 1.3 minutes–not fast enough in an emergency situation. In addition many patients at the end of life experience more than 3 transfers to different facilities and their paperwork is often lost in the process.

Much work needs to be done to help patients get their wishes met at the end of life! For that reason I have created a NEW online course to guide people through creating their advance directives, making them legal,  and having conversations with loved ones and doctors about their wishes.

slide01The course “Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning” is self-paced and can be completed any time, anywhere.

I’ve written the course to help people be prepared mentally and emotionally to make end-of-life decisions and avoid the common mistakes discussed below.

Learn more about the course at www.eoluniversity.com/Roadmap.

Common mistakes in end-of-life planning include:

  • Putting it off for a later time
  • Not completing the forms entirely
  • Choosing contradictory options on the forms
  • Choosing the wrong healthcare proxy
  • Getting lost in the details of possible scenarios at the end of life
  • Not discussing plans with the doctor
  • Not expressing wishes to loved ones
  • Not updating end-of-life preferences over time

The Step-by-Step Roadmap for End-of-Life Planning is designed to avoid all of these mistakes and to aid in making the right choices for future healthcare needs.

Thanks for tuning in to the podcast! Until next week:

Face Your Fears.                      BE Ready.                   Love Your Life.

 

 

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 64 It’s Okay to Die with Monica Williams-Murphy MD

 

Join Dr. Karen Wyatt, the host of Death Expo, in this conversation with emeregency room physician Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy, author of the award-winning book It’s OK to Die. They will discuss Dr. Williams-Murphy’s mission “to create conditions in which people: plan ahead, make their peace, understand that it is OK to die naturally, and make educated choices which allow them to pass away peacefully and comfortably surrounded by those who love them most.”

In this interview you will learn:

  • the tragic consequences of being unprepared for the end-of-life
  • the factors that have contributed to our cultural change in attitude toward death and dying
  • how to prepare for the death of a loved one – understanding the physical changes associated with dying
  • how to make peace with death and let go at the end-of-life
  • what doctors need to know in order to offer better care at the end-of-life

Support this podcast and End-of-Life University Interview Series by donating at Patreon.com/eolu!