End-of-Life, Health Conditions/Diseases, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Game for End of Life Planning…

Questions game for end of life planning, what a great idea! It gets conversations started. It gets people thinking! The game is called, “Hello.”

This was an article I came across on LinkedIn. I was pleased to see it as this is my passion; helping people, assisting people and the topics of death and dying are not the typical discussion one wants to begin, BUT it needs to happen.

To be born, we must die. It is part of the life cycle and yes we all hope we live to a ripe, older age, but we never know.

Further information for this upcoming game can be found on the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management site.

I am very glad to read that researchers are focusing on this topic and coming up with creative ways to get people to talk. “Before you create an advance directive, you need to think about your values and beliefs, think about your trade offs, and talk with your family and doctors,” states Lauren J. Van Scoy, assistant professor of medicine and humanities in the Penn State College of Medicine.

The researchers found that three months after playing the game, 75 percent of participants had gone on to complete some form of advance care planning. The study is the most recent of several that have looked at whether playing the game, called “Hello,” can encourage people to begin advance care planning, a process that Van Scoy says is ongoing and can and should take months to complete. The researchers found that in the three months after playing the game, 75 percent of participants had done some form of advance care planning and 44 percent had completed advance directives. Advance care planning is a process that you visit throughout your life, and you should be continually evaluating what’s important to you, and what your priorities are.


I am looking forward to the game as I could use it with clients. Other games and cards exist, but I have yet to come across one that asks all the questions, really gets people thinking about ‘what if.’




Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Book Review and Interview: The Black Market Concierge by Barry Oberholzer

So a spy thriller that involves smuggling and spying…it involves the USA, the Middle East, South Africa-what’s not to like?

Imagine living a life like this? I’ll pass-I prefer a quieter life, but Barry sure makes it sound intriguing, fascinating, and interesting and all in the form of doing what one’s country asks you to do-doing your duty, doing your service.

I like the story, it keeps me interested and I know my other half will read it as well as if you like James Bond style movies, Netflix shows like Fauda or Narcos, than you will like reading a book about smuggling and spying.

The only negative I have to say about the book is the editing. I really dislike seeing grammatical errors when I read a book-words smooshed together, misspellings, improper grammar…

What I like about the book is the human behind the story. The why someone would choose to be a spy. The sense of honour for one’s country or government. Also, to choose this lifestyle when one is married and expecting a family. Imagine a double life? Imagine the danger? The potential thrills and the potential ‘catch the bad’ guy (s)?

Men will certainly like this book and I think many women will as well.



Tour schedule is: September 25 to October 13, 2017!

Book Details:

Book Title: The Black Market Concierge: Sanction Busting, Smuggling & Spying for America
Author: Barry Oberholzer
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction, 177 pages
Genre:  Memoir
Publisher:   Amazon
Release date:  November 2016
Format available for review:  print & ebook (gifted Kindle copy, PDF)
Will ship print books to:  USA & Canada only
Tour dates: Sept 25 to Oct 13, 2017
Content Rating: PG (Violence)

Book Description:

Barry Oberholzer’s secret life as a confidential informant, infiltrating international organized crime syndicates and sanction-busting activity hit headlines in 2012. Oberholzer reported an array of vital intelligence to the CIA and multiple intelligence agencies across the world. For years, he has worked across the Middle East and behind the scenes as a confidential informant making connections, extracting valuable intelligence, and facing off against America’s greatest enemy at every turn.

In The Black Market Concierge, he opens a window into his double life as an informant; informing on the role of key players including major corporations, crime syndicates, politicians and government officials in high-value international smuggling operations.

After exposing corruption at the highest levels of government in South Africa, he is ready to give a no holds barred account of what it is like to live the life of a high-level, confidential informant.

​His memoir is a searingly honest account of a boy aviation enthusiast who cascaded into the world of international espionage and how it ultimately sent him in search of salvation in his devout Christian faith. It is a testimony that will move even the most cold hearted.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble


Meet the Author:

​Born in Houston, Texas, a former professional rugby player and current CrossFit and Ironman athlete, Barry is the founder of TerrorMate app and is a counter-terrorism and intelligence expert. Formerly Barry served as a confidential informant for Department of Homeland Security, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Belgium Customs Intelligence and HM Revenue & Customs Intelligence in the United Kingdom.

One of his most impactful successes was in his identification of Iranian sanction busting syndicates who smuggled US manufactured aircraft and parts to Iran which led to the arrests of several prominent international businessmen. He also had numerous successes in major illicit cigarette seizures in Europe.

​Connect with the Author:  Website  ~  Twitter



What do you read for pleasure?
To relax and get a new perspective in my day I like to read trough motivation books like Who Says you Cant, You do by Daniel Chidiac or memoirs like The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort.

What are your five favorite books, and why?
I like to read a broad spectrum of books. It’s partly because I just love books and always looking for new ideas — but partly because most great people always have had a book that they found to be super-useful and like sharing with others. You can catch me reading anything from Tom Clancy to Joel Osteen and Brian Houston or any motivational entrepeneurship book by Richard Branson or Robert Kiyoski.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
I’m an Apple man so I use my iPad with iBooks and the Kindle app.

What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you? 
I prefer using social media. It gives you the opportunity to target your audience more specifically and a range of marketing apps allow you to broaden your reach.

Describe your desk 

Books, iPad, iPhone, Pens, Writing pad and of course some bills.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?  
Born in Houston, Texas as son of a diplomat we moved to South Africa. I think the education I got from the schools I attended assisted me in developing my writing skills. However, I never really knew I had a writing talent until I started blogging a few years ago.

When did you first start writing? 
I started blogging after some personal developments in my life, and prior to my first Ironman competition in 2013.

What’s the story behind your latest book? 
The book is a memoir of my work as a confidential informant for intelligence agencies. After being arrested and detained in squalid conditions I found salvation in God and dedicated my life to Him. The book recounts all of these life changing events.

What motivated you to become an indie author? 
I think after my first few blog entries I got some good responses from family and friends who motivated me that I must write a book someday, especially those who knew I was working for intelligence agencies. After going through some ups and downs I think the best way to illustrate myself and tell my story is through writing. It has some sort of soothing feeling to recount these stories.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you? 
The greatest joy for me is that I will be able to leave some sort of legacy to my two daughters when they are old enough to read, to see what I had gone through in life and to be a inspiration to them and others. To reach so many people worldwide by using writing as a platform and even perhaps changing their lives by your words is something that puts a smile on my face.

Barry H. Oberholzer, Jr.
Senior Vice President

Now available on App Store

2017 Homeland Security Awards Nominee – Best Mobile Technology

iRead Website new logo







End-of-Life, Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, Health Conditions/Diseases, Healthcare, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Important End of Life Discussions between Patient and Doctor Needed…

This is a very good article that discusses the important of physicians having the much needed discussion about end of life and dying with their patients.

“There is no “right” answer for how patients should respond to a terminal illness. It’s a deeply personal decision based on a complex array of spiritual, social, financial and emotional needs.” BUT- physician or other healthcare professionals.”

Patients who are terminal can only make these tough choices if their doctor (s) are trained and able to share bad news. Yet many doctors receive zero training on how to have these hard conversations and less than a third of primary care physicians receive instruction in end-of-life treatment.

Fortunately, some medicals schools have noticed this training gap and are evolving their curricula to fill it. Stanford’s medical school orientation now includes a discussion of the ethics of death. George Washington University Medical School offers a full course about dying.

Johns Hopkins goes a step further and actually assigns students to write instructions for their own end-of-life care, an exercise that forces them to confront the difficult decisions terminal patients face.

That to me is interesting as what better way to have a discussion about a taboo or fearful topic is to think about and write out what you would do or choose.

In my head I have had this conversation with myself many times and I think I know what I would choose if I was ever in that situation of being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Not long ago a friend and I were talking about a person who was diagnosed with breast cancer. We each had different reactions to this news and answers as what we would do regarding treatment.

For me, depending on if it was localized (1 spot) or not; meaning it had spread-I would seek the least invasive treatment. Chemo to me is a last choice and only if it has a good chance of making a difference. From what I have been exposed to both personally and professionally-chemo has a negative effect on the person with cancer and causes other health issues along with destroying all the good things about you physically. It is poison!

I would seek a healthy diet, exercise, alternative therapies to assist with symptoms and pain and would want to spend as much quality time as possible with my family and friends vs. in a hospital receiving chemo and being sick daily afterwards. Where is the quality of life in that? But this is me and my choice. Others may and have chosen differently. That is what makes us unique. This is why the medical team from the physician to the nurse to the social worker and other medical personnel need to be trained to have discussions about the disease, illness, treatment options and be prepared to talk.

And honestly, unless we are going through this ourselves-we can listen, discuss all the options, be empathic and supportive, but ultimately it should be the patient who make the decision regarding treatment or not.



End-of-Life, Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

How Does One Offer Condolences?


This is a very informative article on offering condolences. Quite often people do not know what to say, what to write, what to do. I like the suggestion of sharing memories. If you know the person who died well enough; I am sure you can think of a good memory to share.

‘Remove yourself from the conversation’ is also a very good suggestion. When someone is grieving they do not want to hear about you and your loss, they want to talk about their family, friend, pet who died; again catch yourself and share a memory instead.

Another article- Why Not to Say ‘How Can I Help?’ to the Grief-Ridden
Don’t ask the bereaved what you can do — just do something by Jill Smolowe.

Also a very good article with great advice and suggestions, do vs. asking. Quite often the bereaved cannot answer that question. Bring food, pick up the kids, take the dog out, go grocery shopping, clean, do the laundry……. DO vs. Asking what to do.

End-of-Life, Grief/Grieving/Bereavement, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Grieving the people we’ve loved and lost — ideas.ted.com

This is such a great piece! I very much agree that when one dies and leaves the physical realm of this earth-people can still communicate in their own personal way through imagination, candle lighting, visiting the gravesite, looking at pictures or bringing up memories.

Whenever I miss my grandmother, I can turn to the many letters we wrote one another. I can look at photos, I can bring up happy memories.


-We can stay connected to them by creating our own special rituals, says psychologist and grief expert Kim Bateman. In 1990, one of my younger brothers died in an avalanche while extreme skiing. He was only 21, and the horrific memory I have from that time is of his body lying at the bottom of…

via Grieving the people we’ve loved and lost — ideas.ted.com

End-of-Life, Humanity, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Death Doula? What is This?

Have you wondered about these terms? Death Doula, End of Life Doula? Death Midwife? End of Life Specialist? If you have-do the words frighten you? Scare you? Make you pause and wonder?

You realize that death is part of life, right? To be born we must die. Death is part of the life cycle.

Does death frighten you? Do you fear death? Are you scared of death? If you are-why?

Life your life full of richness, joy, happiness, with meaning, and share with the ones you care about and love, spend time with them, phone them, write them, text them….let them know how you feel. Do not have regrets. Find a job or profession that you love or are passionate about. Take up hobbies, exercise, eat healthy, develop good relationships, volunteer, give back whether through time, money, ideas….be a part of society.

The link within will explain what a death doula is, how the term came about, what it entails. Remember birth comes first and their are doulas and midwives for this, so why not for death-the end of the life cycle.

If you were dying or a friend was dying would you want them to have someone to talk to? To be with them? To offer comfort? To help organize the things that need to be put in place like wills, funeral arrangements, a celebration of life ceremony before they die? How about someone to assist the caregivers-offer support and guidance? Do not see the terms of death doula, death midwife or End of Life Doula as negative or fearful?

The individuals that fulfill these roles are compassionate, caring, empathic, and special because not everyone can do it. It is just like being a nurse, a doctor, a social worker, a teacher. Special roles that not everyone is up to the task to fulfill.

“End-of-life doulas provide 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.”
-End of Life Doula Network

Most end of life doulas are non-licensed and non-medical. But there are many who are starting with a foundation as chaplains, nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, life coaches, reiki practitioners, psychicians, shamans, and therapists, among other professionals. Or, they may be adding an end of life component to their present practice.

What an end of life doula ‘does’ really depends on what skill set the doula has and what they want to focus upon now.
Our common, basic offering is this: emotional and spiritual companioning, with some practical support as well. You may also find an end of life doula who offers caregiving and practical house/errand/cooking services or cooking and meal prep. You may find an end of life doula who specializes in advance directives and advance care planning, funeral planning, memorial planning, medical assistance, and legal assistance. There are others whose main focus is using ceremony and ritual to help you transition and cope with the loss that is coming, as well as afterwards. There are end of life doulas who are therapists and only focus on end of life issues and companioning others through that time. There are home funeral guides, bedside singers, and end of life doulas whose focus is on helping the family with legacy tributes.

I am hoping that after reading all this you realize the positives of the terms, Death Doula, End of Life Doula, Death Midwife, End of Life Specialist,  and see the benefits of individuals who have sought training, are receiving training in this area.


My training is taking place with another individual and company, Patty Burgess of Possibility, Doing Death Differently.

Patty  has years of experience and her credentials are below:

-President of Possibility, Doing Death Differently
-Certified End-of-Life Specialist (CEOLS)
-End-of-Life Doula/DoulaPro
-Hospice Volunteer
-Certified Grief Recovery Specialist
-End-of-Life Educator, Speaker/Trainer
-Former Hospice Community Educator/Patient Liasion


One should choose the program or training of the individual that they resonate with and a program that fits in with your work and life style-in-person, online, weekend workshops, etc.

Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Unfortunately for every “good” death, there are many which are much more stormy and drawn out.

It is sad to read and to know that most people in western society die in hospital or in an institution. Keeping death out of sight and out of mind in this way means that most people have little experience of death and dying.


“When illness or age present an inescapable conclusion to life, then it is the doctor’s dilemma to ensure a good death. However, the challenge is that this good death must occur within the constraint that medication must not be given to accelerate death, nor to relieve symptoms that are distressing to the family (as treatment is only permitted for the direct benefit of the patient).

Maybe it is time to question the belief that it is wrong to treat a dying patient in order to minimise the distress that their dying may cause their closest relatives. After all, few of us would desire our own deaths to be viewed as “something from a horror movie” and would support actions that might help our family at this difficult time.”

Read this article in full and take a look at another: