My death-positive sessions this winter are available for 1.5 CEUs through the Continuing Education Institute of Illinois. I also welcome caregivers, patients, and curious participants. Please join us! Each session also includes an “Ask a Doula” Q&A at the end where I’ll answer all your questions.
Death-Positive Sessions Winter 2023/2024
Click on each session title to learn more and register.
We will talk about Jewish and Catholic holiday rituals. Let’s examine how these rituals help us remember loved ones throughout the holiday season.
- Jewish and Catholic holiday rituals help people honor the dead.
- Rituals help us process our grief.
- To reduce emotional and spiritual suffering during the holiday season.
You will identify:
- The major fears faced by dying people at the end of life.
- How winter rituals help us reduce those fears.
- Ways to reduce emotional and spiritual suffering at the end of life through meaningful practices and rituals.
We’ll discuss the work and role of death doulas. How do death doulas reduce fears and support care teams while walking their clients and loved ones home?
- The general role that death doulas play in our community.
- Some of the many services that death doulas provide and some services they do not provide.
- How death doulas reduce end-of-life fears and anxiety.
This program will provide information about traditional post-death options as well as more eco-friendly alternatives. We will examine earth-first values and ways to honor these values after we die such as liquid cremation, human composting, and more.
- The difference between traditional and eco-friendly post-death options.
- Non-traditional ways to dispose of our bodies after we die.
- How we honor Earth-first values during life and beyond.
- The ways death doulas, therapists, and others support clients when they make choices about their burials, cremations, etc., or need help communicating these choices to loved ones.
I will provide information about Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED.) I will also examine how, with the proper support, this is a peaceful and comfortable way to hasten death that’s legal in all 50 states and supported by every major world religion.
- VSED and the parameters under which it is a legal option.
- How it is different from Medical Aid in Dying and Assisted Dying.
- The ways to support someone through the VSED process.
- The importance of planning ahead to utilize the proper support before making this choice.
This program will provide suggestions for when a doctor says it’s time to “get your affairs in order.” We will examine a checklist for the dying and how many of the items on such a checklist can be done years before a diagnosis.
- How planning for the end of life leads to a better death someday and a better life right now.
- The importance of making plans, writing them down, and sharing them with others.
- And identify actions that reduce fears and anxiety.
Let’s discuss the dying process and the various stages people go through at the end of life. We will also examine how to best support people going through this process at home.
- Understand the dying process and everyday experiences at the end of life.
- Identify the active dying phase including the symptoms and causes of terminal agitation.
- Recognize the ways to support someone who wants to die at home.
- Understand the importance of The Ring Theory and self-care for caregivers.
- Recognize how death doulas, care teams, and loved ones can support people dying at home together with grace and empathy.
I will provide information about how psychedelics help people reduce fears and anxiety over death in many different ways. I’ll further examine several types of psychedelics and plant medicine, what the studies show, and other ways to reduce emotional and spiritual suffering at the end of life.
- Three main categories of end-of-life anxiety.
- How spiritual suffering differs from emotional and physical suffering.
- The ways to reduce those fears that do and do not include psychedelics/plant medicine.
- Studies that show conclusively that psychedelics reduce end-of-life fears and anxiety.
- How access to psychedelics is changing, as they become rescheduled and decriminalized throughout the country, and how death doulas, therapists, and others can support clients to address their fears and reduce them with this powerful medicine.
This program will provide information on the annual tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions when people reflect on the year that’s passed and look to the year ahead. We will then examine the ritual of making changes for a better life, and death.
- The historical significance of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
- Rituals, traditions, and practices of New Year celebrations among various cultures and beliefs.
- Resolutions that can benefit people of different backgrounds, both before and after a serious diagnosis.
- The role of death doulas, care teams, loved ones, and professionals when supporting clients who would benefit from these resolutions.
- How they can reflect on their lives and use that awareness to improve their future.
We’ll talk about living funerals, profound experiences, and sustained happiness. We will also discuss activities that promote reflection and celebration as well as awe-inspiring ways to enjoy life before you die.
- The importance of living funerals and how they add joy to the end-of-life experience.
- Differences in sustained happiness.
- Ways certain activities promote reflection, celebration, and awe-inspired enjoyment of life.
I provide information about practical, emotional, and spiritual to-do items before you die. We will examine how to reduce regrets and guilt through concrete actions and how people can get started now – before a diagnosis.
- Practical, emotional, and spiritual to-do items and how doing them ensures a better death someday and a better life right now.
- The importance of advance care directives, post-death arrangements, and talking about these plans with loved ones.
- 5 essential statements that reduce emotional suffering at the end of life.
- The importance of getting rid of all kinds of clutter, including psychological clutter.
We’ll discuss the stages of grief and the different ways people mourn. We will also explore grief rituals that people use to process their bereavement.
- Stages of grief as well as the different ways that people, often within the same family, experience grief.
- The importance of healthy ways of grieving.
- Religious, secular, cultural, pre-death, and post-death grief rituals.
- The importance of personal reflection and bereavement aids for the bereaved.
Let’s learn basic signs in American Sign Language for older adults and how these might make it easier to live and communicate with loved ones.
- ABCs of ASL (fingerspelling) and number signs (1-20.)
- Importance of hands, facial expressions, and body movements in American Sign Language.
- 6 common signs for older adults.
- Other resources for older adults who want to learn ASL.
I will provide ways to thank the caregivers in our lives. We will also discuss how these might show our gratitude for this important work.
You’ll get the:
- Importance of caregiving.
- Value of different kinds of caregiving.
- 10 ways to show gratitude and thank caregivers.
- Other ways to appreciate this important work.
I’ll show you basic ways to declutter your home and life – before death. We will also examine how decluttering makes it easier to live and helps loved ones after our deaths.
- How to declutter your homes with a simple step-by-step guide.
- What to keep, what to donate, or what to throw away.
- Ways to declutter relationships, too.
- How to let go in small ways to plan for the big letting go at the end of life.
Let’s delve into the essence of ethical wills, their significance, and guidelines for how to write them.
Upon completion of this program, you will:
- Understand the essence of ethical wills.
- Recognize the importance of legacy projects, including life stories, legacy letters, memory boxes, and ethical wills.
- Recognize, demonstrate, and understand how ethical wills help the dying and those who love them.
- Learn the step-by-step guide for how to write ethical wills.
We will examine impermanence and the ways that clinging to anything leads to suffering. This program delves into some of the ways we can let go that will help us achieve a more peaceful life and death.
- Opportunities life gives us to let go in small ways.
- Importance of trusting ourselves and remaining open to whatever is supposed to happen.
- 10 things we can do to let go every day.
- Ways these practices benefit our lives and deaths.
I examine historical discrimination by medical providers against the LGBTQ+ community and also delve into ways that queer-informed death doulas advocate for and serve this community and the end of life. This also includes a discussion about the needs of nontraditional families and polyamorous couples.
Upon completion of this program, the participant will learn the:
- Historical mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community by healthcare providers.
- Importance of queer-informed death doulas.
- 4 ways that death doulas serve the LGBTQ+ community and nontraditional families.
- Other resources for older LGBTQ+ adults.
This program will provide the history of mistreatment regarding marginalized communities and healthcare providers. We will also show how death doulas can serve these communities with empathy and awareness.
- The definition of culturally competent death doulas.
- Historical mistreatment of marginalized communities, especially the BIPOC community, by healthcare providers.
- How inequality from birth affects death.
- About other resources for older adults from marginalized communities.
Let’s explore sensitive communication with people facing serious illness or terminal conditions. We will also examine what words to say and what words to avoid.
- Understand the importance of sensitive communication.
- Recognize facial expressions and body movements when communicating.
- Demonstrate both words to use and words to avoid.
- Learn how this knowledge and awareness creates a healing and loving environment.
“Valentine’s Day: How It Helps With The 5 Essential Statements At End of Life” – Thursday, February 8, 2024
I talk about the history of Valentine’s Day and traditions throughout the centuries. We will also cover how this annual holiday helps us when we need to make five essential statements at the end of life.
Upon completion of this program, you will learn the:
- History of Valentine’s Day and how it began.
- Importance of Valentine’s Day traditions throughout the years.
- Religious, secular, and cultural Valentine’s Day rituals.
- Different ways that different cultures celebrate Valentine’s Day.
- Mental health benefits of making five essential statements before we get to the end of life.
Some Popular Death-Positive Sessions Will Be Offered Twice This Winter
I hope to see you there!