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.”
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! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, your contributions make all the difference!
Learn what it takes to bring your compassionate presence more fully to others in challenging circumstances.
In this solo episode I discuss how to be a person who makes every situation better simply by being there. Scientific studies have shown that by cultivating greater coherence in the heart’s energy field we can make a positive impact on the people around us who are going through difficulties. I share some tasks to focus on to help develop your own ability to be fully present with a compassionate heart for the good of everyone in our society.
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 and movie reviews from 2 Doctors and a Movie!
If you enjoy this content please share it with others and consider leaving a review on iTunes! Thanks again to all supporters on my page at Patreon.com/eolu, especially my newest Patrons: Raquel Wiltbank-Mateo and Karen Coupe; your contributions make all the difference!
Learn about the unexplainable mysteries that occur at the end of life and how these stories can transform our relationship with death.
My guest Barbara Morningstar believes that the end of life is an adventure and each person entering that phase of existence is an explorer who uncovers sacred mysteries during the process. In her book Honoring the Mystery she teaches us how to glean information about this spiritual journey from the dreams and visions of our dying patients and loved ones. Learn more at her website:
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 Michael Barbato and Beth Rumi who recently joined the team!
My awesome Spain trip is at an end as this episode airs and I’ll be making my way back to Colorado! You can check out all of my pictures on Instagram at kwyattmd!
Tune in next week to hear my stories from Spain!
In this presentation Stephanie Ryu will discuss her role as a chaplain on the palliative care team.
You will learn:
How the work of a palliative care chaplain differs from other chaplaincy work
The role of spiritual care in the whole-person approach to illness and healing
The importance of spirituality at the end of life
How chaplains assist patients of all religions and those who follow no religion
Stephanie Ryu is a graduate of St. Xavier University and Fuller Theological Seminary. She completed CPE Residency at Providence St. Joseph – Burbank in 2012-13 along with a 6-month fellowship in hospice and palliative care. She now serves as a Palliative Care Chaplain for Providence Health and Services.
Learn how to awaken to higher consciousness NOW so that you can experience conscious dying at the end of your life.
In 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!
My long-awaited trip to Italy begins tomorrow, the day after the original airing of this podcast! You can follow my journey on Instagramand 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!
I 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
How I got joy back into my life after my father’s suicide death.
This 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 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.comto 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 email@example.com or Tweet me at @spiritualmd!
This week Dr. Karen Wyatt addresses ‘compassion fatigue,’ which is an occupational hazard for those who care for others who are suffering emotionally or physically.
Death Expo is coming up November 10-13, 2016 and you can register by going to DeathExpo.com. There will be 12 speakers on various aspects of death, dying and bereavement, so be sure to sign up for this FREE virtual conference!
You can help support EOLU by going to Patreon.com/eolu and making a donation of $1 or $2 per month to help defray the expenses of creating the interview series and this podcast. Thank you to all of the current “Patrons” who are offering their support – it is much appreciated!
Today’s discussion centers around Compassion Fatigue and you will learn:
What is compassion fatigue
Who is susceptible to compassion fatigue
The signs and symptoms of compassion fatigue
Tips to prevent it:
Witnessing perspective (Galaxy view)
Prayer and contemplation
See the links below to get companion resources for this talk
Marggie Hatala – author and teacher of a writing class related to end of life; her books are “Sally: A Memoir” and the forthcoming “Life as Prayer”; learn more at www.marggiehatala.com
Next she begins the Update for September by talking about the new documentary film currently streaming on Neflix: Extremis, which won 1st place at the Tribeca Film Festival. Please see this film which takes place in the ICU at Highland Hospital in Oakland and features Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter. This is a must-see film that brilliantly depicts the conundrum that exists at the end of life when painful decisions must be made. By showing the real-life conversations that take place in the ICU between staff, family members and patients, a case is made for everyone to complete their advance directives and prepare their loved ones to honor their wishes at the end of life. But the painful process of decision-making becomes apparent as each individual struggles with the unknown and the unknowable in these dire situations.
The other topics covered this month include:
BMJ Online report that patients who receive hospice care for the last 6 months of life have better pain control, fewer hospital days, and are less likely to die in the hospital or ICU.
Researchers at John Hopkins found that their palliative care program led to savings of ~ $19 million over 5 years in addition to improved quality of care and patient satisfaction.
Study originally published in Health Affairs and reported on Reuters online showed gaps in palliative care in the US. Read the article.
“What it feels like to die,” an article in The Atlantic discusses the active dying process from the patient’s perspective. Read the article.
Friends and Family Letter Project by Dr. VJ Periyakoil at Stanford includes 7 prompts for letter writers to leave messages for their loved ones. Read the article.
“7 Songs for a Long Life” documentary from Scotland that depicts how terminally ill patients use singing as therapy. Read the article.
The Friendly Atheist Julie Stahl reminds us not to impose our own religious or spiritual beliefs on those who are grieving and may not share your perspective. Read her blog.
Thanks for tuning in to the podcast! I hope you enjoy this information. If you feel inspired to offer a little support go to Patreon.com/eolu to join the community!
In this episode Dr. Karen Wyatt highlights several excellent books about the end of life that have been sent to her by their authors. If you have considered starting an end-of-life book club (as mentioned in Episode 33) you’ll find many great books to choose from in this list. Here are the book titles and authors, along with links for learning more or purchasing the books:
“My Voice, My Choice: A Practical Guide to Writing a Meaningful Healthcare Directive”; by Anne Elizabeth Denny; www.anneelizabethdenny.com
“LastingMatters Organizer: Where Loved Ones Find What Matters Most”; by Barbara Bates Sedoric: www.lastingmatters.com
Today Dr. Karen Wyatt thanks her latest Patreon.com supporter Zanya Biviano, who is the creator of the Grief Support Kit. The kit consists of the Finding Hope in Grief book, DVD, and CD, which make a beautiful gift for anyone who is grieving. You can read more about the kit and order it at www.griefsupportkit.com. As a special offer to podcast listeners, if you purchase one kit between now and August 12, 2016 you will receive TWO kits at no extra charge, with no additional postage! This is an incredibly generous offer from Zanya, so be sure to order your kits right away!!
Dr. Wyatt reminds listeners that they can support the EOLU Podcast and Interview Series by offering a donation on Patreon.com/eolu, by purchasing the EOLU Access Pass, or by buying her books on Amazon.com.
In this episode Dr. Wyatt discusses the fact that the country of Bhutan has been named one of the happiest countries in the world and the Bhutanese people practice contemplating death five times a day. There is a link between overcoming the fear of death, increasing joy and happiness in life, and improving overall health. Therefore the practice of thinking about death on a daily basis could offer many benefits. Tips for developing such a practice:
Establish a regular time each day for a death awareness practice
Stay relaxed by using deep breathing
Make it a pleasant experience by adding music, aromatherapy, art
Avoid fearful images of death and dying
Focus on the “big picture”
Keep a journal
Finally Dr. Wyatt talks about her newly released ebook “The Tao of Death” which is an adaptation of Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching.” You can learn more about the book at the link below. There is also a free Companion Journal for this book with a daily prompt for each of the 81 verses of the Tao of Death.
Join Dr. Karen Wyatt as she discusses How to Rise Above the Fear of Death. She talks about why it’s important for our entire society to face our fears of death and get a handle on them. Then she offers 6 suggestions for getting over the fear of death:
Think about death – daily if possible.
Write about death – keep a journal and record your process of facing your fears there
Read about death – start reading some great books that have been written recently about death. You can download a list of books at the link below this message or go to this webpage: Recommended Reading.
In this episode Dr. Karen Wyatt shares her thoughts on how to cope with tragedy when you are a peripheral observer and don’t know how to help. She talks about her own feelings of helplessness after the 9/11 tragedy and shares some thoughts about specific things you can do to help you cope and find meaning after a horrific event has occurred. Her suggestions include:
Give – donate blood, money, clothing, supplies, food, your time and energy–whatever might be needed most during a disaster. Contact your local Red Cross or other charitable relief organization to find what is needed and how you might be of help.
Pray – even if you are not religious utilize prayer (or meditation, contemplation, or mindfulness) as a means of sending your love and light to others who are hurting right now. Attend a prayer vigil or memorial service if there is one in your area (or create one yourself.) Non-directed prayer for the good of all is more effective than directed prayer.
Light a candle – Dr. Wyatt tells the story of lighting 7-day sanctuary candles after 9/11 as a symbol of shining light during a dark time.
Look within – use this time of despair as an opportunity to look inside yourself and examine your own Shadow for hatred, anger and bitterness. Be inspired to heal your old wounds and help the collective Shadow heal as well.
Practice compassion – work to find and express compassions for everyone involved in such a tragic incident: victims, their families and friends, the perpetrator, member of the community, state, nation, and world; and those who spread hatred instead of love.
Sending you much love!!! Remember to check out the donation page at patreon.com/eolu if you’d like to support this podcast, sign up for End-of-Life University emails at eoluniversity.com, and leave reviews for this podcast on iTunes!
Today’s episode begins with a discussion about the mass shooting that just occurred in Orlando, Florida on June 12th. Dr. Wyatt shares some thoughts about why the Shadow side of life is emerging right now and what each of us must do to help our society: work on our own Shadow wounds and fears. She mentions her online home study course “Get Over It for Good: Healing the Hidden Wounds of Childhood” which you can check out at this link if you are interested:
Next Dr. Wyatt introduces her guest Lizzy Miles who is a hospice social worker and who brought the first Death Cafe to the US in 2012. You’ll hear a little about how that took place and then Lizzy will tell the story of a Shared Death Experience she had when her aunt was dying. This interview will cover:
the definition of an SDE
how SDE’s differ from NDE’s
why it is important to accept the metaphysical experiences of patients and family members near the time of death
myths surrounding the dying process
Remember to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you TODAY! Life is short so don’t waste a moment of it!
Go to Patreon.com/eoluif you are interested in supporting this podcast and the EOLU interview series by donating $1 or $2 per month. Also be sure to share this podcast with your friends and leave reviews on iTunes if you enjoy the podcast!
Today Dr. Karen Wyatt thanks her new Patron Leslie Robertson for her support of EOLU on the donation page at patreon.com/eolu . Leslie is working on a project to train unemployed women in their 40’s-60’s to do end-of-life work. If you become a patron, as well, Dr. Wyatt will mention your name and your work in a future episode.
Next Dr. Wyatt talks about the stresses endured by hospice workers in this time when both healthcare and death have become a business. She discusses the impact of late admissions to hospice on the workers who must care for patients and their families when there is only a short time to meet their needs. This talk includes:
Finding meaning in dying even when you work for a “business”
The sacredness inherent in the dying process
A helpful mindset for dealing with the stress of end-of-life work
How to be a channel for love and compassion rather than generating them from your own heart
Body/Mind/Spirit practices for self-care to ensure that you can help create sacred space for patients
The Lovingkindness Blessing:
May I be at peace.
May my heart remain open.
May I realize the beauty of my own true nature.
May I be healed.
May I be a source of healing for this world.
Thanks for listening! Remember to leave reviews for this podcast on iTunes and help support EOLU at patreon.com/eolu.
Dr. Karen Wyatt interviews Rev. Terri Daniel, an ordained interfaith minister and hospice chaplain, who shares a metaphysical perspective on death and the afterlife. In this interview you will learn:
Terri’s thoughts on “radical mysticism” and how it pertains to death and dying
how her personal experience with grief led her to become involved with end-of-life care
about the Afterlife Awareness Conference and why you should attend
why death needs to come “out of the closet” in hospitals and ICU’s
Keep an open mind and tune in to this discussion about the possibility that life does not end with the death of the physical body. Be sure to subscribe to End-of-Life University Interview Series so you can get email notification each time a new interview is broadcast.
Also check out the EOLU donation page at Patreon.com/eolu and consider making a small donation ($1 or $2 per month) to help support these interviews and podcasts!
This episode is dedicated to the memory of Rev. Maria Dancing Heart Hoaglund, hospice chaplain and spiritual counselor who authored the books The Last Adventure of Life: Sacred Resources for Living and Dying from a Hospice Counselor and The Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready? Maria died tragically after being struck by a car while walking in a crosswalk.
Maria has been a beloved member of the end-of-life community and in this episode Dr. Wyatt shares her personal recollections of Maria, reads excerpts from Maria’s books and plays a clip from Maria’s interview for End-of-Life University in 2013. Whether or not you have met Maria in the past, you will become acquainted with her beautiful soul and enlightened spiritual wisdom through the messages in this episode.
Many blessings to all who love Maria and feel the pain of her absence in this physical plane. Maria left a beautiful legacy for each and every one of us that will continue to guide and inspire our work for the future.
Today Dr. Karen Wyatt offers the End of Month Update for April 2016. In this episode she recaps the 10-Day SMART Decisions Challenge for completing your advance directives – if you are interested in still doing the challenge on your own time you can check it out at www.eoluniversity.com/challenge. Also be sure to check out the EOLU page at Patreon.com/eolu if you’d like to make a small monthly donation to help keep EOLU on the air (much appreciated!)
Topics discussed in this presentation include:
A study showing that the population of people over age 65 will increase to 88million by the year 2050 – meaning there will be a huge need for services for the elderly. Reference to Episode #08: It Takes A Village to Care for the Elderly.
New “Affinity-Based” senior living communities are springing up around the country like Chinese-American and Indian-American communities.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development, which started in 1938, has shown that relationships are the key to a long happy life.
A British study in which the extreme elderly (over the age of 95) were interviewed about death and dying showed that they were at peace with death, ready to go and had talked with their doctors about death, but not their families.
A newly released survey of doctors found that they overwhelmingly support new CPT codes that allow for billing for end-of-life conversations and planning with patients but most of them report they are not ready to have these conversations because they have not been trained and don’t know what to say.
The Credit for Caring Act is currently being discussed in the US Congress and would provide up to $3000 per year in tax credits for family caregivers.
“Presenteeism” is a new term to describe the lack of productivity on the job experienced by family caregivers who are also employed outside the home (which amounts to 20% of Americans.)
Reports of funeral ritual behavior from the animal kingdom.
Driving Miss Norma – the story of a 90-year-old woman who said “no” to treatment after her cancer was diagnosed and is currently traveling the US in an RV with her son and daughter-in-law.
Be sure to leave comments below, subscribe to the podcast, write reviews, and recommend EOLU to your friends. Looking forward to our next opportunity to chat about the end-of-life!
Join Dr.Karen Wyatt in this interview with Tarron Estes, an end-of-life facilitator and educator.
In this interview you will learn:
-What it takes to be a companion to a dying person
-To demystify the stages of dying
-To reduce suffering and fear for your loved one during the dying process
-How to shift from curative care to healing care at the end-of-life
Subscribe to this podcast or sign up for eoluniversity.com to get more interviews like this!
As I write this my friend has just left the doctor’s office and returned to her part-time home in our community. She has learned in the last few moments that her cancer has recurred and is rapidly growing in her abdomen. For the next two days she will be packing up her belongings and loading the car for a long road-trip back home, where she will have to tell her family her shocking news: she is expected to live for just a few more months.
The calendar slips from her hands, along with her plans for the rest of the year: a college reunion during the summer, an autumn trip to Europe, a journal article she planned to write, a research project she intended to complete …
Everything has changed now. She moves slowly through the mundane motions of this day, in dazed confusion: folding the laundry, organizing the grocery list, sweeping the floor … But wait, does it matter? Does any of this matter?
She sorts through the belongings in her home, one-by-one: a book (I’ve read this three times), a teapot (My mother-in-law gave this to me), an old sweater (I got this on our trip to Alaska), and photographs … so many photographs. Each item surveyed and analyzed. Do these things really matter?
She is talking too quickly now, her mind jumping from subject to subject, trying to avoid the looming, inevitable reality that will overshadow and consume everything in its path over the next few weeks. Her conversation seems almost nonsensical to me as I struggle to grasp what is going through her mind at this moment.
She is all alone now. She has entered a place where her family and friends, no matter how close they are, cannot go. As a hospice physician I have walked this path with many patients in the past. And though the scenery has varied with each person, I have noticed certain landmarks throughout each journey.
I cannot change my friend’s path or take away her suffering. I can only wait with her and watch and pray. For these coming days I shall look through her eyes and feel through her heart, observing life and all its oddities; noticing, while looking back from the perspective of death, what of this life really matters?