"The fear of death haunts us like nothing else".
Jon Underwood, UK, Founder of Death Cafe, declared himself a "death entrepreneur" that was trying to bring the taboo conversation about death into every day conversations.
Listen to the NPR podcast about Death Cafes.
"The coronavirus pandemic highlights how much we need to have conversations about end-of-life care".
"Americans are not good at talking about death. But we need to be prepared for when, not if, illness will strike. The coronavirus is accelerating this need".
"Our collective silence about death, suffering and mortality places a tremendous burden on the people we love, and on the doctors and nurses navigating these conversations. We should not be discussing our loved one’s wishes for the first time when they are in an I.C.U. bed, voiceless and pinned in place by machines and tubes".
This opinion piece is right on when it says that talking about death is really talking about life.
We need to have these conversations now so that we can understand what our values and priorities are, at the end-of-life and also during our life.
Contact Dee Dee to learn more about how to start these discussions with your loved ones.
Death Cafe's objective is "to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives".
Death Cafe's have no agenda.
It is a discussion group.
It is not for profit.
It is a respectful and confidential space.
It does not lead people to any conclusion, product or course of action.
It is not a grief support or counseling session.
In 2010, Jon Underwood (UK) developed a series of projects about death, one of which focused on talking directly on death. Thus, Death Cafe was born.
Death Cafe's, and A Necessary Conversation, seek to normalize death, dying and grief.
"It’s one of the hardest things to accept, our own mortality. But making a bit of time to have important conversations, while there’s still time, can make a big difference when the time comes".
Talking about death seems so counterintuitive to our culture. However, when we find a safe place to engage in these conversations, we open ourselves to learning so much about others, and ourselves.
This article shares 4 benefits that are received when we start talking about the end of our lives.
1. In planning terms, once you know, you know.
2. It lightens the practical and legal burden.
3. Relief, calm and a sense of control.
4. You'll give people the joy of discovering things that they never knew about you.
These conversations can begin at any time. Do not wait until one is sick or too ill to learn about what is important to them.
Most people chose not to think about death, until it is literally on their doorstep.
People used to be more comfortable with death, but death, and our society, has changed over the decades.
Death was part of every day life, as people use to die in their homes, with their loved one surrounding them.
Now, death is most likely removed from our homes and our communities, and more people tend to die in facilities or hospitals.
The slow process of death has also been removed as we are no longer familiar with how death looks.
However, we have an opportunity to change this.
We can start thinking and talking about death.
We can learn and understand the process of death.
We can understand and clarify our medical priorities.
We can connect closer to our human spirit of both life and death.
The attached article shares a few reasons why it's essential to speak about death. Here is what this article says:
It will make you healthier.
It will make you happier.
You will care more about others.
Your personal goals will be better prioritized.
You'll appreciate art more.
You'll die better.
A caregiver is anyone that provides help to another person in need.
Being a caregiver is rewarding, and stressful, and it's important to recognize that people in these roles need to feel supported as well.
Caregiver stress can make one vulnerable to changes in their own emotional and physical well-being. The attached article offers some strategies for dealing with caregiver stress:
Focus on what you are able to provide.
Set realistic goals.
Join a support group.
Seek social support.
Set personal health goals.
See your doctor.
If you are a caregiver, please ask for help, and if you know a caregiver, please ask them how they are doing today and how you can best support their needs.
It's the holidays....time to be festive and jolly?
For those in the grief world, this is not the time for joy and festivities.
Grief can come in many forms due to many differing circumstances. Whatever is the cause of your grief, please be gentle with yourself and with those you love.
In this article about grief and the holidays it states one of the most common questions that is posed from grievers during this time of year, "how should we handle tradition"?
"When you engage in ritual solely because it’s the way things have always been and to no one’s benefit, it begins to unravel and turn into something meaningless and obligatory". However, holiday traditions and rituals is often what binds you and your loved ones together.
With this in mind, make space this holiday to keep traditions that comfort you, but be willing to accept the desire to offer something different than in the past.
Ms. Haley shares the following tips:
Small rituals are just as important as larger, and they may be easier to continue.
Traditions do not have to be perfect, and you do not have to prove to yourself/others that you are ok, despite the difficulties.
Do not compare past holidays and acknowledge a lot has changed and your holiday won't be the same.
Recreate and Redefine meaning in every day life, and find with traditions bring comfort.
Change is ok, and it doesn't have to be permanent, and if you want to reinstate traditions in the future, thats ok too.
This is an opportunity to find lasting ways to remember and to integrate your loved one into your holiday.
Although this article was written in 2020, it is still appropriate today.
Ms. McDowell states she doesn't want to be a "downer"....and I do not think she is because she is writing about the reality of the pandemic of 2020. One year later, and we are still facing the pandemic, illness, deaths, isolation, frustration, homelessness, addictions, financial struggles and natural disasters, and the list could go on!
As difficult as these things are, it's even more important to do what we can, and that is to recognize and acknowledge the ache and the hardship others may be experiencing.
See it. Recognize it. Share that you care. Give compassion and be very generous with it.
This is the small, but mighty way, we can bring some light to many that are hurting.
There is so much going on in the world right now...
Covid, accidents, illnesses, natural disasters, etc. that it's a reminder that more and more people are facing sudden hardship, and in some cases, anticipated or long term hardship.
With the differing events and circumstances swirling around, it is natural that many are having a hard time, and often, we want to cheer others up or get them to look on the bright side of life.
However, in this Option B article, it states that the simple act of reaching out and listening, can help.
Here's a few of the suggestions:
Start a dialogue about what your loved one is experiencing.
Reach out - even if you are nervous. This helps others to feel less isolated.
Let them set the time, place and tone. This is their journey.
Ask questions, and follow-up questions (open ended questions are best).
Listen without trying to fix the problem, and instead acknowledge what they're going through.
Help them to identify their coping strategies which help them to rediscover that they are capable.
Continue to keep checking in, while encouraging them to continue to share what they are feeling without any judgement.
One of the hardest things to do for others is to be there for them in a nonjudgmental way and with compassion.
Responding compassionately to someones suffering can be confusing. We often do not know what to do or to say.
When we care for someone, it is difficult to witness their sadness, anger, confusing or depression. We often look for ways to offer solutions, thinking this will help.
However, when someone is suffering, the most important thing is to simply acknowledge what they are going through. Letting them know they are not alone and understanding that it is not our job to fix or make it better for others.
There are a few tips from the following article, that I find helpful, and they are:
Don't force someone to move on too soon.
Don't give advice or discount the feelings.
Don't compare pain and give ideas on what worked for you.
Don't tell someone it's time to move on, or to get over it.
Don't trivialize or diminish another pain by comparing.
Here's a list of some compassionate responses in this article:
Ask how others feel, today.
Validating another pain.
Share their own reactions with their words.
Create a safe place for one's pain.
Offer "specific" support.
In the end, we all want our suffering to be witnessed, not fixed.
The best gift we can give those we love, is to be emotionally present for them when they are in emotional turmoil.
It is easy to get caught up in what the holidays "should look like".....festivities, fun, celebrations, joy etc. However, if you have a loved one that is ill, the holidays may not be so fun.
This article is a good reminder of what the holidays truly are meant to be ~ a time to reflect, ability be with loved ones, celebrating and cherishing the moments of love.
For those that are ill, facing tragedy or facing death, the holidays is simply about what is meaningful - being together, supporting and loving each other (even if we have to do it remotely).
Here are snippets from this article:
Modify expectations and traditions
Bring the holidays to your loved ones, if possible.
Don't over do it. Allow time to be present.
Enjoy the sounds of the season.
Share family memories and stories.
Wednesday, November 17
This is a live, digital event, hosted on the Reimagine platform.
Experience a Reiki & body scan meditation, along with an engaging, honest & open conversation around honoring one’s grief journey, which is essential for our growth, healing, and hope.
Allowing grief to enter our body is a much healthier approach than trying to deny or suppress it. In this session we will start off by relaxing through a body scan meditation before we engage in a conversation about the elements which encapsulate the end-of-life.
Dee Dee Turpin will guide us through inevitable topics of death, dying and grief. We will touch upon how to reduce unnecessary suffering, increase inner peace, and bring a sense of love and purpose, when facing one of the most vulnerable experiences in our life story.
We will end our session with a Reiki treatment as we come together in deep relaxation to recharge and reconnect with our true selves.
Boshko Boskovic is the founder of Let’s Heal NYC, a private practice specializing in Reiki treatments. He is a Reiki Master, trained & certified in the Usui Shiki Ryoho lineage. He is trained by Minka Brooklyn founder Aki Hirata & Manu del Prete and Alice Jones - Intuitive Counselor, Energy Healer & Author from North Virginia.
He is a part-time Reiki practitioner at Minka Brooklyn Community Wellness Center and a member of Gwella, an application directory for Alternative & Holistic Services. He has worked at Reiki Clinics at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan and Maha Rose Center for Healing in Brooklyn. He has been invited to give in person and virtual Reiki sessions at institutions such as Weinberg Center for Balanced Living, Soho Works, Reimagine Worldwide Virtual Festival, Healthcare for the People and Brooklyn Hospital.
Dee Dee Turpin is the founder of A Necessary Conversation, a safe space dedicated to facilitating others to deepen their relationships with death, dying and grief.
Dee Dee is certified as a Death Doula, Peer Support for Traumatic Grief, Facilitator of End-of-Life Conversations, and a Grief Group Leader. She has been trained in varying end-of-life classes and programs, in addition to volunteering for Hospice and NODA (No One Dies Alone).
Dee Dee’s passion is talking about the “elephant(s) in the room” – death, dying and/or grief, in which she has found that by facilitating others to openly engage in honest conversations, they can develop a deeper connection to life and end-of-life.
Ultimately, these necessary conversations help to bring healing, peace, love and hope to the living and dying.
This article talks about the "traditional American Funeral". These traditions have become part of the US society for many decades. There is often great comfort and understanding in this traditional ritual in death.
Read more to understand the three parts of the traditional funeral,. If you decide this is what you are comforted by, how would you like your traditional funeral to reflect your essence?
If you are you wanting to learn more about other possible customs and want to create a service that represents your spirit in a more meaningful way, start planning.
What is the common denominator between New Orleans, Bali, Madagascar, Ghana and Mexico?
They have traditions and rituals that celebrate, honor and talk about the dead.
They believe the dead are still part of their communities, and the spirits of their loved ones are still with them.
These cultures see the sacredness of death, they continue to come together to honor their loved ones, they respect and celebrate the skills and interests of the dead and recall entertaining stories......all so that the deceased can continue to be part of their lives.
What traditions, rituals and/or celebrations are important to you and those whom have died. How do you honor them?
It is beautiful to read how different cultures around the world respond to death and dying.
These cultures are steeped in traditions and rituals, which brings death out into the open, and is celebrated and honored as a "natural part of life".
In the United States, we have become so far removed from end-of-life, that we are afraid of it. We avoid "it" until we absolutely have to deal with it.
What can we learn from other cultures in how they respect, and at times, celebrate the lives of the deceased?
A Necessary Conversation feels that by engaging in these conversations. we too, can learn that death is natural, and that by being emotionally present for the dying, we can see the beauty that is also created through end-of-life experiences.
Talking with someone whom is grieving can be difficult.
We are nervous to say the wrong thing, so often we say nothing at all.
We don't want to make the bereaved cry, so we don't mention the name of their loved one.
We often just want to make the person feel better, and often we give sayings or give platitudes.
Here is a partial helpful list, from a renowned grief specialist, David Kessler.
The Best Things to Say to Someone in Grief
1. I am so sorry for your loss.
2. I wish I had the right words, just know I care.
3. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can.
4. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
The Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief
1. At least she lived a long life, many people die young
2. He is in a better place
3. She brought this on herself
4. There is a reason for everything
To read more on what to say, click on the article button
Note***Go to video, and fast forward to 1 minute, 23 seconds to see.
Anderson brings up a few important points -
Talking about grief - not making it worse than it is.
Being honest and open about what grief is.
See the effects that grief has on how one experiences life.
Build a support of people to help bridge the gap when experiencing grief.
Grief can manifest itself in many different ways - physical symptoms are just one of them.
I remember the relentless fatigue I suffered from grief.
I was afraid to sleep because I would dream of loved one, and then would awake restless and suffering.
I didn't have energy - was that because I couldn't stay asleep? Or was it because I was just depressed?
The less I did, the less I wanted to do.
It took me quite some time, that my grief was affecting my physical ability to "do life".
Dr. Shear's work (in attached article) helps us to see that grief affects every single body part. She states:
Recognize that your pain is normal.
Approach your physical symptoms of grief with curiosity and self-compassion.
Embrace gentle movement.
Talk to health care provider about any concerns.
Grief is unique.
There is not right way, or wrong way to grieve.
Some grieve loudly, with a lot of expressions.
Others grieve quietly, in solitude.
Grief, is an individualized experience and journey.
How do you grieve? Does it feel right for you?
Learn more, contact Dee Dee
"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love".
I always felt uncomfortable with crying and I'd often try to hide it.
I saw it as a weakness, a vulnerability that was not to be done publicly.
I've worked many, many years learning to be gentle with myself, and to believe that tears are not bad, ugly or unworthy to be shared with others.
In fact, if I'm honest, I have spent a good portion of the last month crying. My tears haven't been due to a death, but yet to a big life change. Regardless of what my tears represent, they are part of expressing normal emotions.
Letting go of having to look "OK", releasing my soul to the realization that tears are healthy, and finding safe people in which to share my feelings, are all part of my healing process.
Even though I am still am uncomfortable with tears, I hope I have finally learned, from many wise people, that tears are sacred and are worthy to be expressed.
Experiencing a death of a loved one is a life altering event.
They say getting through "the first year" is hard, but I feel that each passing year comes with its own unique set of emotions and feelings.
Sadness and grief, caused by a death, can be triggered by many things - music, sounds, smells, holidays, birthdays. The death-anniversary can also bring up unexpected feelings.
How best to support others when events or death-anniversaries come up? The following article shares many helpful tips on what to say on a death anniversary, how you can support someone on a death anniversary, ideas and rituals for remembering a loved one.
As per, The Conversation Project, people surveyed feel it's important to talk and share about End-of-life matters, but few people actually do so.
Exploring, empowering and enriching your life, and your end-of-life journey, is vitally important to you receiving the care you wish to have. When you find out your loved-one's wishes, you can help to ensure they are followed.
Dee Dee can help you discover your wishes.
The Conversation Project:
Sharing your wishes for end-of-life care can bring you closer to the people you love. It’s critically important. And you can do it. Consider the facts:
92% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important.
32% have actually done so. Source: The Conversation Project
National Survey (2018)
21% of people say they haven’t had the conversation because they don’t want to upset their loved ones.
53% say they’d be relieved if a loved one started the conversation.
95% say they are willing or want to talk about their end-of-life wishes.
Source: The Conversation Project National Survey (2018)
80% of people say that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about wishes for medical treatment toward the end of
18% report having had this conversation with their doctor.
Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012) and Kaiser Family Foundation Serious Illness in Late Life Survey (2017)
97% of people say it’s important to put their wishes in writing.
37% have actually done it.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation Serious
Illness in Late Life Survey (2017)
A conversation can make all the difference.
Institute for Healthcare Improvement www.ihi.org theconversationproject.org 2
"The New York Times recently had an article about Death Doulas. It's wonderful to see that this profession is getting recognized by industries, such as the NYT.
As you will read, "End-of-life doulas support people emotionally, physically, spiritually and practically".
“In our culture, we go overboard preparing for birth, but ‘hope for the best’ at the end of life,”
End-of-life is one of the most impactful and powerful experiences in our lives. Do not leave this last part of your journey to chance, or for others to decide what you want medically or spiritually.
Reach out to a Death Doula, for there are many that can help you navigate this road. I've have been in practice for over 4 years, and have numerous training and certifications.
Please see a list of my "services", and "what is a death doula" to gain a better understanding how I can help you and your family.
This article brings up the point, that for most, dying an institutionalized death is something most of us will experience.
David Dodwell, references Dr. Atul Gawande's book, Being Mortal, in which Dr. Gawande speaks about even with modern medicine, we, as a society, have lost the art of dying.
"It is a final phase that is nowadays rarely spent at home surrounded by a caring family, but in a nursing home – safe, but regimented and full of impersonal routines that cut off all the things an older person cares about, empty of friendships, privacy and a purpose in each day".
"But, as old age has become more common, so our capacity to deal with death in old age seems to have deteriorated".
For most of us, we assume that we will make it to "old age", although there are no guarantees. If we do make it, have we made the necessary plans to live out our old age? Have we taken the time needed to look at what our wishes and goals are for when we age? Have we been proactive, and carefully looked at what's important to us, and how to achieve these goals?
We need to start having the conversations, so we can be prepared, the best we can, and bring our loved ones into the conversations, so they understand wishes for old age and dying.
Begin your conversations now.