Ep. 376 Creating a Sacred Space at the Moment of Death with Barbara Karnes, RN

Learn some simple steps to honor the sacredness of the moments before and after death.

My favorite guest Barbara Karnes, RN is back for another episode where we talk about issues in hospice care. Barbara is an internationally recognized speaker and expert on end-of-life care. She is author of the popular booklet Gone from My Sight and By Your Side: A Guide for Caring for the Dying at Home, among others. Today Barbara shares some fantastic tips for how to help a family create a sacred space for the moment of their loved one’s death and just after. We discuss what hospice providers, death doulas, or family members can do to enhance meaning and reverence as the last breath is taken. These simple reminders are important to make sure that we don’t overlook this brief moment-in-time that is filled with so much significance and grace. Learn more about Barbara’s work at her website:


Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • What to do in the hours before a death
  • How to be a “conductor” for this final moment of life
  • Why each family member should be encouraged to say a private goodbye
  • How to prepare the body immediately after death
  • How to arrange the room immediately after a death
  • When to call the funeral home
  • What to do after the body is removed
  • How to talk about the benefits of having a visitation
  • How to help family members, including children, write letters or draw pictures to leave with loved one at the funeral
  • How to create sacred space in a hospital room or ICU

Links mentioned in this episode:

EOLPodcast, mortal wisdom, Spirituality

Ep. 187 There’s No Time but the Present: How to be Right Here, Right Now

Learn how to make the most of the present moment and give the gift of presence to those you love.


In Part 4 of the Mortal Wisdom Series I’ll discuss how to develop the skill of Presence to use in your personal life and work. Presence is the secret of living fully in every moment and you’ll learn how to enhance your ability to stay focused and present in day-to-day life. 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,  and 3 first if you haven’t heard them yet!


Listen here:


This episode includes:

  • Presence is an essential skill for working with dying patients
  • Many dying patients seem to have a new-found ability to focus on the present and appreciate each moment
  • According to Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn presence is the ability to align body, mind, spirit, emotions in a single focus on the here and now
  • Being fully present with a patient or a loved one allows us to create a sacred space within which healing and transformation can occur
  • Steps for developing the skill of presence:
    • Create time (5 minutes) and space for stillness each day
    • Tune in to your physical body
    • Breathe deeply with intention
    • Allow emotions to arise without attaching to them
    • Let thoughts drift by
  • Practice total focus during small moments e.g. eating a special food, watching a sunset, listening to music, spending time in nature, being with a loved one
  • The experience of awe has these benefits
    • Greater humility (and less ego control)
    • Increased social harmony and interconnectedness
    • Improved immune health
    • Decreased anxiety
    • Increased wellbeing and happiness
  • Daily AWE Practice:
    • I am Awake in this moment
    • I am Willing to experience and accept whatever life brings in this moment
    • I am Engaged fully in living my life moment to moment

When someone is about to die, if you sit with him stably and solidly, that alone may be enough to help him leave this life with ease.

– Thich Nhat Hahn

Links mentioned in this episode:


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