EOLPodcast, Spirituality

Ep.254 A Call for Greater Kindness in a Suffering World

Three steps for increasing your capacity for kindness in a world that is polarized, divided, and suffering right now.

In this episode I’ll share some poems, stories and philosophical musings about our polarized world, which is filled with suffering, and how we can rise above our difference and our pain to show compassion and kindness to one another.

Listen here:

Featured poem from this episode:

SMALL KINDNESSES 

by Danusha Laméris 

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk 

down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs 

to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you” 

when someone sneezes, a leftover from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.

And sometimes, when you spill lemons 

from your grocery bag, someone else will help you 

pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. 

We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, 

and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile 

at them and for them to smile back. 

For the waitress

 to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder, 

and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass. 

We have so little of each other, now. So far 

from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange. 

What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these 

fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here, 

have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.””

— from Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection by James Crews, Ted Kooser

Links from this episode:

  • Get the poetry book here: Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection
  • 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, Grief

Ep. 244 Creative Tools for Grief During the COVID-19 Pandemic with Claudia Coenen

Learn how creativity can help us process our feelings of grief and sadness to become more whole during times of difficulty.

My guest Claudia Coenen is certified in grief counseling and thanatology and is also a musician, dancer, writer, and chef who utilizes creative process and somatic therapy in her work with clients. She is also the author of two books – “Shattered by Grief: Picking up the pieces to become WHOLE again” and “The Creative Toolkit for Working With Grief and Bereavement: A Practitioner’s Guide”. Today Claudia shares how creativity can help all of us deal with our grief and sadness as we cope with the global pandemic and some specific tools for fostering resilience and healing in a time of distress. Learn more about her work at her website:

www.thekarunaproject.com

Listen here:

Creative Tools for Grief with Claudia Coenen

This episode includes:

  • How creativity can help us deal with trauma, loss and grief
  • Why everyone is creative – even if they don’t know it
  • Creative activities for addressing fear during the pandemic
    • Fear and Action Worksheet
    • Shield Collage
    • Resilience basket
  • How various models for grief can help us get in touch with our emotions
    • Shattering of the Assumptive World
    • Meaning-making
    • Dual Process
    • Companioning Model
  • A daily ritual for acknowledging the current collective grief of humankind: Lovingkindness Meditation for the Pandemic

May we be at peace.

May we be healthy and strong.

May we be open-hearted.

May we remember we are all connected.”

from Lovingkindness Meditation for the Pandemic

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Pre-Order 7 Lessons for Living from the Dying here
  • Claudia’s Website: The Karuna Project
  • Get Claudia’s Book here: Shattered by Grief: Picking up the pieces to become WHOLE again
  • Pre-Order Claudia’s new book here: The Creative Toolkit for Working with Grief and Bereavement
  • View Karuna Cards here
  • Shattering of the Assumptive World grief model – Ronnie Janoff-Bulman book
  • Leave a message for me at SpeakPipe.com/eolu and I’ll include it in a future episode!
  • 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!
  • SUBSCRIBE to the podcast here

If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu! Your contributions make all the difference!

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, Spirituality

Ep. 212 The Dance of Life and Death – Part 4: Grace

Learn how to cultivate grace in both life and death. 

PodcastGrace

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 grace, which is an essential element of any dance. Learn how the many different of meanings of grace apply to both life and death and discover a daily practice that can help us prepare for the end of life with ease and dignity.  These thoughts are derived from my book: What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying.

Get the book here.

Get the handout here:

GRACE

Listen here:

 

This episode includes:

  • The many definitions of “grace”
  • That grace is always given freely, not earned or deserved
  • How grace “finds us” during our darkest times of brokenness
  • Forgiveness as an act of grace
  • How I want to live and die with grace and gentleness
  • A daily practice to cultivate grace:
    • G – Gratitude
    • R – Release
    • A – Awareness
    • C – Compassion
    • E – Equanimity

I do not understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.

-Anne Lamott

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 supporters Hilary G. and Debi Schauss, your contributions mean  everything to me!

EOLPodcast, mortal wisdom, Spirituality

Ep. 189 How to Move Beyond Outrage and Forgive Everything

Learn the importance of forgiveness for moving forward in society, personal life, and spiritual growth.

Podcast19Forgiveness

In Part 5 of the Mortal Wisdom Series I’ll discuss why Forgiveness is an especially important skill to learn in the midst of our culture of constant outrage. We cannot solve today’s problems unless we learn how to lay down the bitterness and resentment that keep our energy stuck in the past. These are the lessons we can learn from our mortality and how to thrive in life while knowing that death awaits. Listen to Parts 1, 2, 3  and 4 first if you haven’t heard them yet!

Mortalwisdom

Listen here:

 

This episode includes:

  • Why there is so much outrage in our society today
  • Why we need to remember our interconnectedness and interdependence in order to solve the problems we are facing
  • How hospice patients focus on forgiveness as they face the end of life
  • How forgiveness benefits health, relationships and spiritual growth
  • Why forgiveness should be an intentional, daily practice
  • Tools for practicing forgiveness
    • Journaling
    • the “4-View” Process for forgiveness
    • Ho’oponopono

Forgiveness is the fragrance a flower gives when it is crushed.

-Anonymous

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, Mary Ellen Shea and Jan Wessell and to Licha Kelley-King for upping your pledge!

EOLPodcast

Ep. 179 How to Conquer Overwhelm as a Family Caregiver with Tandy Elisala

Learn how to cope with all of the ups and downs and challenges of being a caregiver for a loved one.

podcastelisala

My guest Tandy Elisala knows all about the stresses of being a family caregiver having cared for both of her parents while raising 3 children as a single mom. She is the host of the Empowered Family Caregiver Podcast, an author, speaker, and coach and she’ll share her best tips and advice with us today. Learn more at her website:

www.TandyElisala.com

The Complete Caregiver Respite Guide

Quick Start Guide to Conquering Overwhelm

healing-through-the-chaos-2641

Get the book here.

Listen here:

 

This interview includes:

  • The biggest challenges facing family caregivers
  • Owning up to the negative emotions facing caregivers
  • Why some caregivers have trouble asking for help
  • Advice for getting help from others
  • How to move past guilt for not being a “perfect” caregiver
  • What we can learn about being a care receiver
  • Tips for self-care
  • Resources for respite 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 Patreon.com/eolu, especially E. Kiran for upping  your pledge!

End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 137 Why You Should Forgive Now Rather Than On Your Deathbed

Learn why and how to start a forgiveness practice now instead of waiting until your last days.

PodcastForgiveness

dove-2516641_640In this episode I share my thoughts about the importance of forgiveness and why you shouldn’t wait until the end of life to start practicing it. I’ve been working on it all my adult life and I can guarantee you it’s a worthwhile endeavor!

Read the companion blog here.

Download the Forgiveness Tool Kit.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

decisionsignFor the month of April I’m hosting the 10-day S.M.A.R.T. Decisions Challenge to help you get your advance directives completed in honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day. You’ll be guided step-by-step to figure out what really matters to you so that you can utilize that information as you fill out your living will and healthcare proxy forms. Sign up here.

 

Slide01If you are interested in teaching a death and dying class at some point in the future you can download the Teaching Guidelines here! When you sign up you’ll be on the mailing list to learn about the upcoming Work Group and Mastermind for death and dying teachers!

Get the Guidelines here.

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Many of my hospice patients have been concerned about practicing forgiveness before they died. I sat with them at their bedsides as they struggled to let go of their anger and bitterness so that they could die in peace.

But I learned that it is possible to start the process of forgiveness now so that the task will be much easier at the end of life. Here are some of the mindset shifts I’ve found are helpful as you learn to forgive (listen to the episode to hear the details):

  • Life is a classroom – you can learn from any experience
  • You are not entitled to a life free from difficulties
  • The past no longer exists except in your memory where you keep negative events alive
  • It’s not your job to punish those who have harmed you (and trying to do that just hurts you even more)
  • You can make yourself whole again without getting an apology
  • The 4-View Forgiveness can help you get a broader perspective on past events
  • Simple rituals can help you let go of the past

Get the Forgiveness Tool Kit to learn more about strategies for practicing forgiveness on a daily basis so that you will be free of the burden of resentment at the end of life. Sign up for the kit here.

Tune in every Monday for a new episode! Leave a review on iTunes if you like this content (it really makes a difference) and go to Patreon.com/eolu if you’d like to become a supporter!

Until next week remember …

Face Your Fear            BE Ready            Love Your Life

karen-signature

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Spirituality

Ep. 125 How to Have a Peaceful Death

Learn some steps you can take NOW to ensure that you will be at peace when you reach the end of life.

PodcastPeacefulDeath

momThis week I’m sharing with you my reflections on what it takes to be at peace when you die. I just observed the 5th anniversary of my Mom’s death and I was inspired to create this podcast by thinking about the peace she experienced at the time of her death and how she was able to achieve that! 

Read the companion blog on this subject here.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Join A Year of Reading Dangerously and read fantastic books about death and dying all through 2018! Learn more and sign up here.

Thanks to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Cheryl Durden! Your contribution to this podcast and to the End-of-Life University Interview Series is greatly appreciated!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

After writing a blog this week called “Why Some People Don’t Die in Peace” I decided that I should go further and address HOW to actually be more at peace when the end of life arrives. So here are my thoughts! These are all things to start working on now in order to be at peace in the end:

PHYSICAL:

  • Plan ahead for your time of dying: What type of care do you want to receive? Where do you want to be when you die?
  • Appoint a reliable healthcare proxy to speak on your behalf
  • Create advance directives and talk about them with everyone (family, medical providers, clergy, friends, attorney)
  • Do “death-cleaning” by giving away all the things you don’t need any more
  • Think about where you will live and who will take care of you if you are unable to care for yourself. How have you provided for these possibilities
  • Make note of all of your preparations along with all of your financial and ownership information. Make sure this is accessible to family members who may need this information in the future.
  • Plan ahead for your funeral and burial

MENTAL:

  • Prepare yourself for death by reading and learning what happens at the end of life
  • Participate in a Death Cafe to have conversations about death
  • Watch films about the end of life (like “Extremis” on Netflix)
  • Attend workshops, classes, lectures in your community about death and dying

EMOTIONAL:

  • Get your emotional “house in order” by reviewing your unfinished business – who do you need to forgive? What unhealed wounds are you carrying?
  • Work on practicing forgiveness now
  • Let go of old resentments
  • Make amends for your own errors in the past

SPIRITUAL:

  • Find meaning in life, no matter how difficult the circumstances of your life
  • Learn to live every moment and find joy and love wherever you go
  • Figure out what really matters to you and make sure you are living that every day
  • Face your fear of death to help you overcome all fears in your life and live with more joy

Thanks for supporting EOLU! I appreciate your listening – if you enjoy this content please leave a review on iTunes. Tune in next week for another fascinating episode!

Until then …

Face Your Fear              BE Ready               Love Your Life

karen-signature

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Spirituality

Ep. 108 3 Keys to Living & Dying Consciously

Learn how to awaken to higher consciousness NOW so that you can experience conscious dying at the end of your life.

Podcast3Keys

Wyatt13_2In this episode I share the secret behind the 3-part tagline I use on the EOL University website and at the end of every podcast. (If you listen regularly you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about!) I discuss the wisdom behind the phrases I repeat each week and how they represent keys to our ongoing spiritual evolution!

Check out my author/speaker website here.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

IMG_0230My long-awaited trip to Italy begins tomorrow, the day after the original airing of this podcast! You can follow my journey on Instagram and Facebook as I hike, bike, eat, drink, pray, and write my way through the country–all in search of the perfect stories for my new book on grief! I’ve pre-recorded enough podcast episodes to last until I return in one month–“see” you then!

Patreonbecome2xI would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Rich Hayes, who is a hospice chaplain. Check out his website at www.richhayes.com and his book God Made Simple. If you would like to join the list of patrons go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more and chip in $1 or $2 per month to support this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series. You’ll receive a thank-you on this podcast and I’ll also promote your end-of-life related book, website, cause or business. PLUS you’ll receive the monthly Hospice Happy Hour Q&A recordings!

FEATURED PRESENTATION:

3 Keys to Living & Dying Consciously

(Be sure to tune in to upcoming podcast episode #112 when I will feature an interview with philosopher and sage Ken Wilber about conscious dying and the death of his wife Treya. If you are interested in conscious dying you won’t want to miss it!)

In order to die consciously you must first begin to LIVE consciously right now. Here are my 3 tips for awakening to higher consciousness–they have been hiding all along in the simple tagline I use at the end of every podcast! Now you’ll find out what I mean when I remind you of them every week!

Face Your Fear

You must go through your fear in order to rise above it; the more you hide and run away from your fear of death (which is the ultimate fear) you run away from joy, as well. So begin to accept that Death is inevitable–everything in the Universe dies–and life is full of difficulties. Once you embrace that fact you can begin to work specifically on your fear of death and turn it into acceptance.

Follow these 6 steps to rise above your fear of death:

  1. Think about death every day. Include contemplation of death as part of your daily practice; get used to the idea that life is fleeting and you don’t know when it will come to an end.
  2. Read about death. Find books (e.g. What Really Matters) and stories that portray death and dying in a meaningful way to help you see that it is not necessarily something to fear. The dying process can be a beautiful time of healing for patients and families.
  3. Write about death. Use your journal to record your thoughts and emotions about death. Observe how they change over time as you continue this practice of increasing death-awareness. (The book The Tao of Death with its companion journal can be a helpful tool for reading and writing about death.)
  4. Learn about death. The more information you have about the end of life, the more your fears will lessen. Knowledge is one of the most powerful antidotes to fear. Tune in to the interviews on End-of-Life University for an ongoing education about all aspects of the end of life.
  5. Talk about death. Get comfortable including death and dying in your everyday conversations. You’ll find yourself better able to comfort friends and co-workers when they have experienced a loss and you’ll be helping others to tell their stories too.
  6. Work with death. Consider volunteering for hospice to learn how to sit with death and witness the dying process. Hospitals and nursing homes are also good places to volunteer to get closer to death and overcome your fear.

BE Ready

There is no substitute for preparation, no matter what you might face in the future. Once your fear has decreased begin to plan ahead for the end of life and imagine how you would like that experience to unfold. Here are some steps to help you get ready:

  1. Know what really matters to you. Spend some time thinking about what in your life is most important and prioritize those items. You need to know what you value in order to make tough decisions in the future.
  2. Make choices for what you want at the end of life. Use a tool like the Conversation Project Starter Kit to help you decide what type of healthcare you would like to receive in your last days.
  3. Complete your paperwork. You need to appoint a healthcare proxy and fill out an advance directive form in order to give your wishes some legal clout. But you also need to talk to your loved ones and your doctors about your wishes so they will know how to care for you if you can’t speak for yourself.
  4. Tend to your relationships. Learn how to forgive NOW so that you won’t be rushing to complete this important task while on your deathbed. Remember to say “I love you” to those who matter to you whenever you have an opportunity.
  5. Learn to BE in the present moment. Let go of ruminating about the past and worrying about the future–love and joy exist right here, right now in this present moment.

Love Your Life

Once you have learned to manage fear and to BE ready for anything that comes your way, you can begin to learn to love your life just as it is, even if you are surrounded by tragedy and pain. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Live according to what really matters to you. Let you values guide your choices each day and put your time and energy into the things that are most important.
  2. Practice gratitude each day. Keep a journal and begin by writing down one thing you are grateful for each night before you go to sleep. Even in the worst of times you will be able to think of one thing to be thankful for–you just have to shift your mindset to a more positive focus.
  3. Learn to find love in every situation. After you have developed a gratitude practice you will begin to notice that love is actually present everywhere, in everything that happens. Start focusing on the love and you will find it more and more frequently.
  4. Allow love to fill you. You can become a channel for love to the rest of the world by simply letting love into your life in every possible way. Fill yourself with love so you can share it with others.

Life is an ongoing learning process! No lesson comes easily or without a certain amount of pain, but it’s worth it. If you begin conscious now and begin to live a life of love, then you will remain conscious when it becomes your time to die. You will continue to radiate beauty and joy to those around you–I’ve seen it happen over and over again!

Here are two books to help your learning process and your practice of death awareness:

WRM@flatcover                   Tao

Check them out on Amazon: What Really Matters        The Tao of Death

Keep tuning in each Monday for a new episode and if you enjoy this podcast please consider leaving a review on iTunes. Thank you!!

Until the next time, remember ….

Face Your Fear                                BE Ready                         Love Your Life

karen-signature

End of Life, EOLPodcast, Grief

Ep. 94 Finding Joy in the Midst of Grief

How I got joy back into my life after my father’s suicide death.

podcastjoy

Wyatt18smallThis episode is a follow-up to the 8-part series I presented on my father’s suicide death (episodes 85-92). I will look at the factors involved that helped me eventually find joy in my life once again.

You can read the companion blog for this podcast at www.eoluniversityblog.com.

 

supportonpatreon-e1412764908776You can help support this podcast and the EOLU Interview Series by making a donation at my Patreon page: www.Patreon.com/eolu. This week I would like to thank my newest supporters: Melissa Neeley and Jozie Rabyor. You are awesome! Your support means everything to me. Also last week’s supporter Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs has asked me to promote Death Cafe as a thank-you for her donation. Go to DeathCafe.com to learn more about the movement, download a guideline for starting your own Cafe, or find a Death Cafe near you to attend!

Finally as promised, the Patreon donations have reached $50 per month so I am scheduling the first Hospice Happy Hour for Patreon supporters! It will take place on Friday June 23rd at 3 pm Pacific/6 pm Eastern. We’ll “hangout” together, talk about death, offer support to one another, and answer questions. If you are a current donor you’ll receive the call-in information by email. If you are interested you can become a donor too by going to Patreon.com/eolu!

Today I’ll be sharing with you my insights on how I moved through the pain of grief and guilt and managed (over many years time) to recover a quiet joy in my life. Here’s the list of factors that helped me:

  • Patience. I needed to recognize that grief has its own timing (and its different for everyone.) I had to let me grief follow its own path and unfold in its own way.
  • Stillness. Over time I developed my capacity to experience stillness within through a practice of contemplation and meditation. I discovered that joy arises in the stillness so this step was essential in order for me to ultimately feel joyful again.
  • Facing emotions. For many years I repressed all of my negative emotions about my father’s death because they were too frightening and dark for me. But it was necessary for me to face up to those emotions and embrace them with love in order to make room for joy to return.
  • Allowing change. I learned that I had to allow my grief and pain to change everything about me in order to move through it and discover joy again. My resistance to change kept me stuck in grief for many years and unable to move on.
  • Letting go of expectations. I had to alter my assumptions about how joy would show up in my life and recognize that it would arrive as one tiny droplet at a time. Joy for me now is quiet and serene.

Thanks for tuning in to the podcast! Send me a message or your questions for the Happy Hour at my email address karen@karenwyattmd.com or Tweet me at @spiritualmd!

Until next week remember:

Face Your Fears.                         BE Ready.                        Love Your Life.

Love,

karen-signature

 

SaveSave

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.

conflictpodcast

 

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.

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End of Life, EOLPodcast

Ep. 07 What Hospice Patients Know that the Rest of Us Don’t

Dr. Karen Wyatt discusses the lessons she learned about life from working with hospice patients. These lessons were the foundation of her award-winning book What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying.

In this call you will learn:

-the true meaning of joy
-how to let go of the past
-why you must let life change you