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.
It was in 2017 when I first met Deanna as I had signed up for her CareDoula Certification Program. I was immediately struck by her authenticity, compassion and eagerness to help those of us (End-of-Life Doula's wanna-be's) that had signed up for her certification program.
During this intense program, Deanna instilled all of her amazing tools, to me (and others) and always said that as EOL Doula's, we need to conduct ourselves above what is expected, as we get the honor of bringing experiences and integrity back to our communities, the dying and their families..
While I was still obtaining my certification, I had the opportunity to attend a 5 day Residential Immersive Retreat in Texas,. It was during this retreat where I got to see Deanna, in person and in action, infusing her wisdom with all those in attendance. Deannas love of life, and the love of being an End-of-Life Doula, is contagious to anyone that meets her.
I am honored to share more about Deanna and her wisdom. Enjoy!
Deanna Cochran, RN, amazon best-selling author and Founder of the CareDoula® School of Accompanying the Dying, is one of the earliest voices and a current leader of the end-of-life doula grassroots movement. She has been serving people with serious illness and their families since 2000 as a hospice RN and End-of-Life Doula in private practice. Her passion is educating about palliative care, end-of-life advocacy and how to skillfully accompany the dying and their families.
Deanna served as first Chair of the NHPCO End-of-Life Doula Advisory Council for over 2 years and is founding member and first Vice President of the National End-of-life Doula Alliance. She regularly teaches at conferences and retreats around the country. Individuals and organizations partner with QLC, using her course curriculum, “Accompanying the Dying: A Practical Guide and Awareness Training,” the premier End-of-Life Doula Certificate Program in the US. Her Certified CareDoula® program is the only program of its kind blending palliative care and end-of-life skillset, leading the way for specialty services during advanced illness through death.
Deanna develops unique solutions for hospices, healthcare and community organizations. She custom builds end- of-life doula programs (complete with full training for trainers and end-users) unique to each organization’s resources, talent and goals. QLC leads in unique and powerful solutions for the integration of doula services in healthcare and the community today.
Deanna established Quality of Life Care, LLC (QLC) in 2005 to provide public education initiatives for palliative care and end-of-life awareness and for the new, emerging end-of-life doula role for both laypeople and the healthcare professional. She mentors and has trained thousands of people over the years with her innovative approach.
You may have seen Deanna in some of these media outlets. She has been proudly featured in The New York Times, Medscape, Quartz, Pacific Standard, The Austin American Statesman, Story Corps, and many other publications, podcasts, and radio programs. Her #1 Amazon bestselling (in 3 categories) book, “Accompanying the Dying: Practical, Heart-centered Wisdom for End-of-Life Doulas and Healthcare Advocates,” is available wherever good books are sold.
Initiatives of QLC:
Certified CareDoula® official website
Certified CareDoula ® Training & Certificate Program
Grief CareDoula® Family Bereavement Program
CareDoula podcast and blog. Interviews and teachings about accompanying the dying and their families.
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/qualityoflifecare/
E-mail: email@example.com Phone: 512-924-1402
Serious Inquiries for Institutional and Corporate Program Development, please contact our Program Director, Danielle Cochran, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Interview and Guest Speaking/Appearances Requests, please contact Programs Director, Danielle Cochran at: email@example.com
End-of-Life Update and the Value of Doulas
The Problem: Huge increase in need for non-medical support at end of life The Solution: End-of-Life Doulas
“End-of-Life Doulas are THE solution to the crisis in end of life care in the next 20 years as we face the fast approaching ‘silver tsuami.ʼ
~Deanna Cochran, RN, Founder and CEO of Quality of Life Care.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that "between 2020 and 2050, the number of deaths is projected to rise substantially as the population ages and a significant share of the population, the baby boomers, age into older adulthood."
The enormous pressure this will place on present health and death care systems requires innovative solutions to help. The new role of End-of-Life Doula (Death Doula) is the solution. The National End-of-Life Doula Alliance, the first non-profit membership organization for end-of-life doulas states the definition of an end of life doula as one who:
“… provides non-medical, holistic support and comfort to the dying person and their family, which may include education and guidance as well as emotional, spiritual or practical care, from as early as initial diagnosis through bereavement.”
Due to the enormity of need forecasted by industry experts, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization created the End-of-Life Doula Advisory Council for the purpose of educating hospices and palliative care organizations about doulas and how to utilize them. Their inaugural meeting was April 2018 in Washington D.C. led by Chair, Deanna Cochran, RN.
“NHPCO hopes to involve its membership in the long-range goal of incorporating EOLDs into care delivery, either as agency staff, specially trained volunteers, or as independent contractors engaged by families. EOLDs enrich the experience for patients, family members and friends, and strengthen the relationship between medical and nonmedical end-of-life support.”
Below are a few selected articles from a variety of angles regarding the value of End-of-Life Doulas
• NPR: Doulas Are Becoming Part Of The End-Of-Life Equation
• Huffington Post: A Growing Movement Of 'Death Doulas' Is Rethinking How We Die
• The Columbus Dispatch: Death doulas provide support, comfort for those near the end
• Holistic Bliss Magazine: The Curious Role of the End-of-Life Doula
According to the attached article, the majority of surveyed Americans had an inadequate understanding of what is palliative care, and how it works. Also, the frequency of how much one utilizes health care was one determinant of knowledge of palliative care.
Motolani Ogunsanya, PhD, an assistant professor at The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center shares the following:
A common misconception is that palliative care is only for end-of-life care when, in fact, it can begin at any point in the disease course. This is very important, as a lot of folks assume that palliative care is similar to hospice, which it is not.
Palliative care serves as an adjunct to life-sustaining treatments, by addressing the side effects of treatment or symptoms of the disease. It aims to improve the quality of life for patients and caretakers by addressing the physical, psychological, and logistical challenges associated with a disease or its treatment.
In contrast to palliative care, hospice care provides comfort care for patients who have stopped treatment and are near the end of life,
If you, or someone you know, has been offered palliative care services, please learn more about how these services can help the patient and the family dealing with a disease or illness.
A Conversation With Kirsten DeLeo, Author of Present Through The End: A Caring Companion's Guide For Accompanying the Dying
I met Kirsten DeLeo several years ago while attending a Quality of Life Care Retreat in Texas. Over this 3 day retreat, Kirsten was one of those educating this small group of like-minded individuals, whom were either interested in End-of-Life, or were part of the CareDoula Program, which I was.
Kirsten shared valuable resources from Authentic Presence, Contemplative End-of-Life Care Training, which was inspired by the teachings on compassion, mindfulness and presence taught in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the approach found in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.
Kirsten is currently the main developer of Authentic Presence curriculum, and is the author of Present Through The End: A Caring Companion's Guide for Accompanying the Dying. This profound book helps to provide guidance to those that accompany the dying. Please read the following excerpt that Kirsten provided me.
HOW WE CAN OPEN UP A CONVERSATION WHEN SOMEONE IS DYING
At some point in our lives, we have all been on the receiving end of so-called well-meaning advice that usually begins with something like, “I know how you feel," or “It could be worse,” or “Don’t cry.” In truth, we can never fathom how someone really feels and sometimes you just don't know what to say.
It is rarely helpful to compare one person’s experience to another’s, or encourage someone to stop feeling what they are feeling. Though we have been taught these stock responses for crisis situations, when the script ends and we find ourselves at a loss.
Walking alongside the dying, we quickly realize that there is no fixed script or set formula to follow. So if you are questioning whether what you are about to say is going to be helpful or not, ask yourself how it would feel to hear those words if you were in the same situation. In essence, a dying person needs to hear, feel, and be assured of three things: you matter, you are loved, and your wishes and values are respected.
I think it is not safe to express how I really feel, deep, deep inside. If I would, what if you turn away? What if I end up all alone?
—Voice of a dying person
Make a Genuine Connection
Every dying person has their own life wisdom. Helping the person to discover or reconnect with this life wisdom is incredibly meaningful, rich, and moving, not only for the dying person but for the listener as well.
Asking good questions can help you to reach out to the dying person, and will make it easier for the person to open up to you. Open questions are generally better; closed questions that prompt a simple yes or no answer often diminish the potential for communication.
Open questions encourage the other person to reflect, as well as signals that we are listening.
The following questions have been helpful in encouraging meaningful conversations with the dying. The first set of questions can help open up a conversation. These are just suggestions and are not meant to be used like a checklist that you have to hurry through and tick off. It might even be helpful just to stick to one question each visit to draw the person out.
Keep in mind that the purpose of these questions is not to enable you to give the other person your own answers. Follow the other’s lead and explore what is upmost in their mind. Allow for spaces of silence, be patient, and resist the temptation to jump in. If the urge is too strong, take three long, deep breaths before you respond.
Understanding and Transforming Suffering
Experiencing Authentic Connection and Love
Finding Meaning in Life
Finding a Refuge or Source of Peace
The way you choose to use the questions will depend on your relationship with the dying person. For some, a direct question might work well. For others, a more indirect and gentle approach might be best. Remember, the purpose of these questions is to reach out and to open the door. It is fine if you don’t get a response. You have let them know that it is safe to talk to you, if they choose, whether now or later.
The reality of the other person lies not in what he reveals to you but in what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather to what he does not say.
Those who are dying will feel safe and connected when we continue spending time with them and thus show them that they matter. We can help them focus their minds on what still gives them a sense of joy, and recognize and celebrate the good things in their lives and what they have accomplished.
When they feel confused, fearful, and lost in the dark, our caring attention can guide them through. Even when we stumble while finding the right words, we will show them that we care by listening, by not shying away from their deeper concerns and questions, and by respecting and trusting their own inner wisdom.
Several years ago, as part of my Death Doula training, I attended a "Quality of Life Care Retreat" in Texas, where I was introduced to Ann Allegre and Kirsten Deleo, and the teachings of Authentic Presence.
Authentic Presence has been a profound part of my End-of-Life/Death Doula practice.
After the retreat, I knew I wanted to learn more about this organization and the courses that they offered, so I took the following courses and received Certification of Completion in the following:
Cultivating Mindfulness and Awareness in End of Life Care.
Cultivating Compassionate Presence.
Please read about my conversation with Ann Allegre, from Authentic Presence below.
Tell us about Authentic Presence:
Authentic Presence training programs have been developed over more than 30 years to teach a contemplative approach to end-of-life care. Participants deepen their capacity for compassion, presence and mindfulness in ways that enhance their ability to meet the deeper needs of those they are caring for, as well as to care for themselves more skillfully and compassionately. The program offers online courses, residential retreats and workshops to teach contemplative-based tools and resources to professionals and volunteers in healthcare as well as family caregivers. The training is presented in an experiential way, and the skills can easily be applied when caring for the dying.
What was the inspiration for the organization?
The program was inspired by the teachings on compassion, mindfulness and presence taught in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly the approach found in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. The training is offered through a secular approach that is appropriate for people of all faith traditions or none.
What emotional, physical and spiritual benefits does Authentic Presence offer?
The skills and tools taught in this training help caregivers to reconnect as with sources of joy, purpose, spirituality and wholeness in their work and lives. They provide a strong foundation for resiliency and self-compassion. This training allows caregivers to stay well while meeting the deeper emotional and spiritual needs of those they are caring for. Professionals, volunteers in healthcare and family caregivers who have taken the training say that what they have learned is often transformative and has given them renewed joy and meaning in their roles.
What would you like others to know about the organization?
The organization has trained over 30,000 healthcare professionals and volunteers over the past 30 years. It is a non-profit organization, run largely by dedicated volunteers who have backgrounds in hospice and palliative care as well as their own contemplative practice. Students from many countries attend the courses, and the online format allows like-minded people from around the world to connect and feel supported in this work.
In your experiences, what keeps people from using your network of tools?
The biggest barrier is that people who are interested in a contemplative approach to end-of-life care haven’t heard about what we offer. Once they have taken our courses, most people continue to apply what they have learned in their daily lives.
What hinders others from talking about death, dying and grief?
As a culture, we fear aging, death and loss. We see conversations about these topics as being morbid or depressing. We have come to think that medical miracles can ‘save’ us any time we are threatened by death. In reality, avoiding these conversations about death can lead to more intensive medical interventions, more suffering and a prolongation of dying. In reality, those people who prepare for their death and tell their loved ones what will be important to them often have more peaceful deaths with less-complicated grieving for the survivors.
Is there any other pertinent information, regarding Authentic Presence, that you’d like to add?
Kirsten DeLeo, who is currently the main developer of our curriculum and training, has written the book Present Through the End: A Caring Companion’s Guide for Accompanying the Dying (Shambhala Publications, 2019).
The Death Cleaner. For a forensic cleaner in Mexico City, helping grieving families heal is at the core of his service.
This video may be difficult to watch, but what Donovan Tavera provides is a service that brings comfort and peace for families of those that have died.
Donovan does what most of us cannot imagine doing ~ he provides a service for those that are in disbelief and hurting emotionally. What a selfless gift he offers to others, and he does so with grace and kindness.
Conversation With Kelly Grosklags- LICSW, Oncology Psychotherapist & Documentary Film Co-Producer of "Dying Is Not Giving Up".
Kelly lives in Minneapolis Minnesota, and is the proud mother of 2 children and 2 dogs. She is happily married and feels grateful for a meaningful career. For 28 years, Kelly has worked in the field of oncology, palliative care and hospice. She has also worked both, inpatient in a large hospital system, and in a private psychotherapy practice, focusing on grief, loss and oncology. In addition to, Kelly is also an author of the book, A Comforted Heart.
Dying Is Not Giving Up ~ A documentary that Kelly co-produced:
Recently, Kelly has had the incredible honor to co-produce the documentary, “Dying is Not Giving Up”, which features Judy, who is dying of metastatic breast cancer, and her intimate talks with her psychotherapist, Kelly. Judy's beautiful spirit and poise, brilliantly illustrates the importance of openly talking about dying, even though these are very difficult conversations to have.
Kelly, and her team, originally produced this film for educational training for future medical providers. However, they have quickly learned that Judy’s wisdom and light goes beyond just this particular outreach. In addition to, current practicing providers are also seeing the benefit in this film, which is hopeful, because society will learn to advance their willingness to talk about death and dying.
Judy’s beautiful legacy is reaching far beyond Kelly's team original intent. It is so powerful that audiences are often in awe after viewing. If you have the opportunity, please see this documentary, and then begin having your necessary conversations!
Kelly's Inspiration For Her Work:
The death of Kelly's mother, Sandy, when she was just 11 years old, is the driving force to a career in grief and end of life. Sandy was only 33 when she died, and Kelly knows her medical team was incredibly hopeful that she would recover from her heart attack. However, because of their need to remain hopeful, and the inability to consult with an end of life team, the medical staff focused only on “saving her life.”
Kelly, witnessed her mother "code" a couple times, and this too, has certainly been the impetus for Kelly's continued advocacy to create a different end of life story than her mother and her family experienced. In the 80’s, the world was not good at end of life discussions and wishes, so the medical staff were not aware of what Sandy's medical wishes were.
Kelly noted that it was her family, that had to ask the physicians to stop the inappropriate actions to try to save her mother's life. Kelly's family felt that the continued focus of saving her mothers life, at any expense, would at best, end up with a once fiercely independent woman, that would become completely dependent on others for all of her cares.
Conversations With Kelly (CWK):
A platform founded by Kelly, where individuals, families and loved ones, can go to heal from loss, and to gain wisdom, through Conversations With Kelly.
Kelly understands there is a certain heaviness that is associated with human suffering, and that none of us want to sign up for this. However, as scary as it is to talk about things that feed uncertainty, Kelly's missions at CWK is to minimize suffering. It is her hope that others will get involved in her online events or on her page, and that people will feel less alone and more supported. Kelly shares that "it has been so beautiful to watch others connect, without ever meeting in person (during this pandemic). We are born for connection".
Kelly believe that people will have a safe place when they visit CWK, both online and in person, when the events are eventually live. Kelly and her team are encourage that people that visit her site, are able to form connections in a like-minded community, that embraces each other, no matter why they come.
Kelly says "since my patients have been my greatest teachers over the years, it has been a privilege to learn from the best and share these teachings with a larger audience".
I love learning about different customs and rituals around the world, as death is a universal event that will happen to each of us. We cannot escape it, out run it, or outspend it. It is a fact, and it's imperative that we all start engaging in these conversations.
"This month’s conversation in our series exploring religion and death is with Jacob Kehinde Olupona, a professor of African religious traditions at Harvard Divinity School."
"Death as a palpable force looms large in the Yoruba religious and social consciousness. From cosmology to various ritual practices and genres of oral traditions such as proverbs, poetry and short stories are all brought to bear on the reality of death. Not a day goes by that speakers of the Yoruba language do not make mention of death as both a phenomenon and a certainty".
What would happen if we all chose to find a way to talk about death, dying and grief? Would we learn to be more comfortable with such events? Would we learn that these conversations are not taboo, but yet they are all a natural, fact of life?
Please reach out to begin your own journey with end of life matters.
"Vantage Hospice in Houston saw substantial growth in its patient census during the COVID-19 pandemic, which the company in part attributes to a rising number of patients with advance care plans. Vantage is now calling for initiatives to make advance care planning a standard medical practice".
"The company’s administrator Nicole Knight contends that expanding advance care planning would help bring patients under the wings of hospice earlier in the course of their illnesses".
When most people hear the words "Hospice", they tend to think dying is right around the corner. This is simply not true. What is true is that doctors and health professionals tend to mention hospice at the very end. Thus by the time someone enters hospice, they are at the very last stages of dying.
However, if more people would start having Advance Care Planning conversations with their families and loved ones, it would most often make clear that most would want to have care that brings comfort and aid to the dying and their families.
“Advance care plans provide direction to physicians and loved ones in the midst of a medical crisis,” Knight said “So many patients could have had the opportunity to die comfortably at home instead of alone in the hospital if advance care plans were a standard practice.”
In addition, most people would prefer to die in the comfort of their home, surrounded by loved ones, all while being comforted and in limited pain.
"Advance care planning has been shown to have a significant impact on the quality and experience of life’s final stages, yet broaching these conversations with patients and families involves breaking down walls around end-of-life care. Advocates nationwide are calling for improved strategies to bring the conversation of death into a new light and shift the culture of dying in America".
Please seek out a professional, possibly a Death Doula, that can help to discover what is truly important when nearing the end of life, and what the wishes of the dying are.
The more knowledge we gain from having a necessary conversation, the more we feel in control and fear is lessened.
I love this sentence on The Departure Lounge's website! It is very interesting to pay attention to the language most of us use when talking about death - lost the battle, succumbed to the illness, passed away, etc. Why not say death? The more we normalize these words, the more we can speak with compassion and integrity.
"There are many things to think about when it comes to the end of life. Emotionally, how can we come to terms with death? Practically, how can we best prepare for dying? Talking to friends, family and health professionals is an important step".
"Although around a third of us think about death or dying at least once a week, most people find it hard to talk about. Not just with family and friends, but also with the doctors and healthcare professionals that care for us at the end of life".
The Departure Lounge is another tool to be used to discover what a good death has meant for others, and to think about what it might mean for you.
After checking it out, please reach out to a death doula or death midwife, as they have been trained to offer compassionate conversations and care when talking about end of life.
"Life Support takes users on a visual journey from greyed-out visuals to multi-coloured information, featuring such as tips on how to talk to children about death and audio clips from experts in palliative care".
"While Life Support is an online tool that people can use alone, it aims to help its users continue conversations about death offline as well".
Although I think it is great that there are so many different ways to help individuals and loved ones to start the conversations around death, dying and grief, I don't want to rely on tools that may take the "humanity" out of End of Life conversations.
Death is a natural and normal part of life, and the more we learn to be comfortable with discussing all aspects of it, the more we can be emotionally present for the dying. When we are more present, we can focus of loving and supporting everyone involved, which in turn, encourages healing and comfort.
"Long-term-care staff are so swamped with COVID-19 protocols that end-of-life discussions aren’t occurring with residents and families, says a McMaster University professor. Sharon Kaasalainen, a professor in the school of nursing, says she’s hearing from families that they’re feeling excluded from decisions about their loved one’s care".
Covid is putting so much extra stress on the health care providers, and the families of the critically ill. This additional stress is causing harm for everyone involved, from the dying, to the families, to the medical support staff.
Covid has made it very clear to all, that we as individuals and as family, are not prepared for these kind of conversations. It is also showing how waiting until a medical crisis, is not the time to start to have these conversations.
By working together, we can help to bring understanding and compassionate care back to the End of Life experiences.
"Death doulas are slowly shifting the way that society perceives mortality".
People often tell me they highly "dislike" (this is a nice word for what they say) the term Death Doula. This isn't surprising because we are a death phobic society, so any mention death is seen as morbid and distasteful. However, death is a part of life....a very natural part of life. Why do we use language, such as lost or passed? Why are we opposed to death and dying? The more we normalize End of Life matters (death, dying, after death and grief) the better we can get in touch with our relationships with death.
Reach out to begin to normalize a very natural part of life.
"Families of older people dying of progressive chronic disease often feel insufficiently informed about the course of the illness, so when death occurs it can be felt as a surprise. However, this misperception of an ‘unexpected death’ could be minimized if only we provided our patients and their loved ones with information that includes an overall estimation of time to death".
Why do we often wait until someone is dying or until there is a medical emergency to talk about our End of Life wishes? Does it make sense to wait? The fact is, we are all going to die - most of us just do not know when. Take the time now, while you are of clear mind and start thinking about what is important to you, not only now, but for when the "unexpected" occurs.
Normalizing End of Life conversations is what A Necessary Conversation does. Please reach out to begin your journey today.
"The COVID pandemic has brought new urgency to the need for end-of-life planning".
"If you're looking for a unique gift for Valentine's Day, you might consider giving some peace of mind -- by deciding and sharing what type care you'd want in a health crisis".
Planning for a future health crisis is not easy, but it is necessary.
Please contact Dee Dee to begin preparing now......or give this as a Valentine, birthday, anniversary gift! Just don't wait!