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.’




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:



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

‘Nobody wants to talk about death:’ Patients’ stories inspire play about palliative care – Entertainment – CBC News — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

Thank you as always Sue Rosenbloom.  🙂

Death is not easy and a diagnosis of, “You are dying” is not easy, but it is reality for some.

What would you do with the time you have left? Would you say goodbye to special people in your life? Would you visit special places you always wanted to see? Do you have things you want to finish before you die?

A play about death is awesome! It makes one think. It makes one realize that life is not permanent.


Source: ‘Nobody wants to talk about death:’ Patients’ stories inspire play about palliative care – Entertainment – CBC News

via ‘Nobody wants to talk about death:’ Patients’ stories inspire play about palliative care – Entertainment – CBC News — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library