Death Planning

I am a Death Planner. My best days are spent helping someone prepare for his or her worst. I help people die. I have been doing this work for so long that when I meet people for the first time I sometimes wonder, “How will this person pass – will it be quick, will it be […]

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Palliative Care is not just for Hospice

“But I felt like I failed her because, for all the time I knew her, I never could figure out her wishes, her goals, to determine if the treatment I was prescribing was what she really wanted. Did I give her time on this earth she wouldn’t have had otherwise? Or heedlessly administer chemotherapy when […]

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Beyond the Casserole

In most American communities, casseroles and deli platters — often brought over by sympathetic friends and neighbors — are standard-issue post-funeral fare. But around the world, mourners are fed a wide range of flavorful dishes, explains writer Lisa Rogak in her book “Death Warmed Over: Funeral Food Rituals, and Customs from Around the World” (Ten Speed […]

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The Day I Became a Hospice Nurse

“What if we give her some herbal remedies? What if we start her on a macrobiotic diet? Do you know anyone who knows somebody who…” These were some of the questions I faced almost daily as an oncology nurse. The questions came from desperate family members and friends with a deep, well intentioned desire to […]

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National Healthcare Decisions Day April 16, 2014

April 16th marks the 7th annual NationalHealthcare Decisions Day. Despite recent gains in public awareness of the need for advance care planning, studies show that most Americans do not have an advanced directive or living will that specifies their end-of-life wishes. According to a 2006 survey published by the Pew Research Center, 95% of Americans […]

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Death Needs a Hero

This month’s educational piece is a 15 minute video from a recent TED talk. The speaker struggled with clinging to Hope in the plight of her husband’s decline and inevitable death. It is a poignant piece and strikes to the core of all of us who work in the field of health care and particularly […]

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The Heart Month

February is American Heart Month. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day. February is also the month of love. What if one of your loved ones is among those statistics that suffered a […]

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Happy 2014!

At the beginning of each New Year I notice my tendency to cling to the past. My best role models for discerning what to hold onto and what to release are Hospice patients. With precious few days left, they almost always focus on individuals who they love and bring meaning to their life. The rest […]

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How to Talk About Death

Talking about death is difficult. You worry that you’ll take away hope or burden your loved one with fear. Speaking about death may seem like a form of abandonment because it suggests you’ve given up on the lingering promise of a cure. Your own anxiety, sadness, and discomfort may make the words choke in your […]

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Waiting for Lidia

The Holiday Tree was decorated with ornaments and twinkling lights. Presents have yet to be bought and wrapped. Most children lie await each night waiting for Santa, not Lidia…she was waiting for me. It was three days before Christmas and the rush of the Holiday was at its peak. I was asked to see a […]

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