Welcome to this weekly bonus series of brief stories designed to touch your heart and offer you comfort, joy, laughter, and inspiration as we face uncertain times together! Remember always to choose LOVE over fear!
Story 9: Every Life is Precious
Shoulders by Naomi Shihab Nye
A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
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:
Join the team atPatreon.com/eoluand 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!
Learn why it’s difficult to make black-and-white decisions for the end of life when death itself is a mystery that will unfold with its own timing.
This week is a solo episode in which I share two stories about hospice patients I cared for and the unpredictability of death, even when a terminal diagnosis is present. This reality means that we have to keep growing in our awareness and acceptance of death as a mystery, even while we complete paperwork that gives concrete instructions for our last days of life. AND I feature some clips from my beautiful daughter Gia’s new album of Healing Chants!
A HUGE THANK YOU to my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu: Julie Lester, Brian Hempstead, and Mandy Pierpoint! Your generosity means so much to me! And thanks as well to all of the donors who have made pledges over the past year. I appreciate you so much! If you’d like to become a patron and receive the Hospice Happy Hour Q&A recording each month along with other bonuses go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more!
I learned through my hospice work that death is a mystery and cannot be predicted or controlled unless we choose to take it into our own hands. Even then the method we use to end our life might fail or we might die of other causes before we can carry out our plans. But that mysterious aspect of death makes it endlessly fascinating to witness. If we can adopt a beginner’s mind about death then we can gradually become more relaxed and less fearful as we watch it approach.
The stories of two of my hospice patients illustrate the mystery of death quite well. One man was expected to live for several months after he signed up for hospice but died the next day of a massive heart attack. Another was in terminal renal failure and, according to medical experts, could not possibly remain alive for more than 2 weeks. And yet, that patient survived an entire year (it’s a great story so please listen in!)
As we work to complete our advance directives and put our wishes into writing we should also remember that this paperwork is not a guarantee of how our final days will unfold. The legal forms just help us prevent an outcome we don’t want. But when and how death comes will still be a mystery and we may end up awake and alert during our final days and responsible for our own decisions. So we would do well to keep learning about death and growing in our acceptance. In that way we can best prepare ourselves for any decisions we have to make at the end of life.
Remember there’s a new episode each Monday! Please tune in again next week and, if you enjoy this content leave a review on iTunes.
Learn how our 100-year history of ignoring death has led to a death-phobic society and the consequences we face as individuals.
In this episode I share my thoughts on the negative effects, for individuals and for society in general, of our dysfunctional relationship with death. This topic leads into my theme for 2018: Death Education for Everyone, which you’ll be learning more about in upcoming episodes!
There’s still plenty of time to join the year-long reading group for 2018: A Year of Reading Dangerously. We just finished reading When Breath Becomes Air for January and are moving on to Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty for our February selection. Click here to join the reading group!
Huge thanks to all of my current supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! I appreciate your generosity very much and also the emotional and spiritual support I derive from knowing that you are listening and that you care about the work I’m doing!
For the past century we here in the U.S. (and other developed nations, as well) have been gradually slipping into a state of ignorance about death. With the rise of modern medicine and the funeral industry, death has been removed from the home and from day-to-day life, allowing us to shove death into the far reaches of consciousness and to deny to ourselves that it exists.
But death is an essential component of life that cannot be ignored without causing some negative consequences. Today I’ll talk about these factors that result from ignoring death:
We think there’s always more time
We forget that life is fragile
We don’t cherish our relationships
We don’t appreciate change
We are unable to find meaning in life
We don’t live life fully
Here are the quotes I included in today’s discussion:
“Man … lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama
“Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.” – Steve Jobs
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is true and important.” – Steve Jobs
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” – Norman Cousins
“Many people die at twenty-five and aren’t buried until they are seventy-five.” – Benjamin Franklin
So commit to start recognizing the presence of Death in your life every day until you can embrace and appreciate Death as a necessary component of Life. Then go out and start teaching other people to do the same thing!
Tune in each Monday for a new episode. If you enjoy this content please consider leaving a review on iTunes!
Learn some steps you can take NOW to ensure that you will be at peace when you reach the end of life.
This 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!
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!
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:
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?
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