Thursday, February 28, 2019

lessons on dying: from cardiologist to caregiver

Below you will find a link to a very special podcast with a member of The Death Dialogues Project Podcast team– Stephen Jennison.

Stephen interfaced with death professionally in his work as a cardiologist specialising in congestive heart failure and was very open with his patients around death.

When the word patients changed a few letters and became P A R E N T S, his entire relationship with death changed.

Stephen has gone from not wanting a funeral at all for himself to asking, if possible, for a home death and vigil and service like we provided for his mother-in-law.

Indeed Death changes us. 

You'll enjoy hearing his unique perspective on Death.

As always, thanks for listening!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Through the Lens of Love

A hearty welcome to our guest blogger: Teresa Weybrew.

The sky was robin egg blue that morning.

My partner and I had just returned from what we both deemed as the best vacation ever. A glorious tropical island that  will forever be the home of our last days together, emblazoned in my heart and mind.

Despite getting home in the wee hours of the morning, we rose early to begin planning our day, After showering, my love suggested we go back to bed, we had no commitments – other than to prepare ourselves for reentry into the coming week – so quickly we returned to the warm haven of our slumber.

We lay in bed, in each other’s arms noticing and comparing the sounds outside our home in Massachusetts, to the ones we left behind on the Island of Vieques, PR.

Rushing traffic replaced the call of a peacock in love.  I can still hear him recreating the call and kissing me as he did so.

Effortlessly and quickly we drifted off to sleep.

I awoke about an hour and a half later feeling refreshed and ready to enjoy the day that was to be filled with a golf lesson and perhaps laundry.
I tickled him and whispered that we were now being lazy.

He didn’t respond.

I leaned up onto my elbow to kiss his cheek to wake him up, but my beloved was gone.

Every cell in my body still tightens and forever I will feel and see the trauma of that morning as long as I live on this earth.

Of that reality.

The hours, days and weeks that followed were a blur. A haze of pain and confusion, of debilitating and inconsolable shock kept me lost in the darkness.

My love, my person, the one with whom I lived in a bubble of bliss was gone and my only focus was to be with him, wherever he was. I spent any energy I had, any thoughts I could formulate centered around joining him.

My life, my children, my grandchildren all became nonexistent.

Debilitating grief swallowed me whole.

There was no hope.

The darkness was so dark that I knew I would never ever find my way home again. I wanted desperately to be dead.

But I didn’t die and I had no idea what lay ahead for me on this journey.

In the darkest of moments, when as I imagined, my foot hit the bottom of the ocean floor – it felt like I was drowning, I had a choice to stay there – and allow the black cold water to fill my lungs and consume me in the pain.

Or to push off the ocean floor and begin my journey to the glimmer of light that was barely recognizable very high above me. 

I painfully and barely pushed up toward the light.

That light was Love.

Love saved me in that moment.

My love for him and his for me. I reached for him in the light of love. In the darkest hour of the longest night, love permeated every cell of my being.

It was as though it pulled back the veil on the power of the love that we had shared. It reminded me of the love I had for my children, my grandchildren and my family and friends.

But most of all it showed me the love I had for myself.

There was more to this story and I needed to find my way through by embracing grief as my new lifelong companion and along with Love, we would together, find a way home, back to a different version of myself.

And so my journey began.

I embraced the pain rather than running from it and as I did so, grief began to teach me. Lessons that I am eternally grateful for.

The gift of being present in this moment, the power of gratitude and most of all seeing the world through the lens of Love.

Painfully and with sometimes moments of incredible uncertainty that I still face to this day, I reached with my heart to a part of myself where I had never been.

Where he now existed.

A place where  death is as natural as breathing.

Where our breathe is what grounds us in this human experience.

Grief began to share its incredible and powerful story of life.  It helped me to understand that we are impermanent. That control is an illusion. That this moment is all that we have.

It breathed into me the knowing that Love is all there is.

My view of all things was altered.

The love of this man was as powerful in life as it was in death.

I didn’t die ~ for the first time in my life,  I was very much alive,  because of death.

Always Choose Love.     

Author info:
Teresa Weybrew is the founder of Heal Through Love Life Coaching. 
Her practice is based on the deep belief that our most challenging life experiences can become our most powerful, productive teachers through a journey of self-love and discovery. She empowers her clients to embrace loss in its most authentic form and utilize grief as a transformational instructor. 

Teresa is a meditation teacher and a strong advocate for mindfulness. She teaches life-coaching seminars and is a consultant for individuals and companies – on matters focused on personal growth and organizational transformation. 

Additionally, Teresa is a Holistic HeartMath Certified Coach. This revolutionary practice involves a deeper connection with the heart. By bridging the intuitive gap between the heart and the mind, we are able to tap into the hearts intelligence and bring to our day to day lives a deeper and richer life experience.  In doing so - reducing stress, increasing joy and living more fulfilling experiences. 

When she’s not teaching in individual or group settings, Teresa works with private clients around the country. She’s currently writing her first book, a guide intended to offer deep support and spiritual reminders about the love available to us all. 

Teresa has studied at Bloom Holistic Life Coaching, The HeartMath Institute, UMASS Medical School - Center for Mindfulness and CTAA Meditation Center. 

Based in Connecticut, with two grown children, Teresa cultivates a life-long passion for painting and drawing in her free time.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A Date with Death: a love story of medically assisted death.

Jana Buhlmann exudes presence.

The work of The Death Dialogues Project feels like it has a momentum of its own most of the time.

We try to keep connections flowing via our instagram account and FB page while gathering more interviews for the podcast and the performance aspect of the project. 

From the inception of this concept it feels like we've really been divinely led in the direction to go next.

My first introduction to our next guest was when we had posted a "I heart my Hospice" type of post on Instagram and our guest, Jana Buhlman shocked me with her response:

This is not a phrase I would utter. Canadian hospices have contributed to the invention of the term "forced transfer' because they will not allow the dying to choose assisted death in their facilities.  When my husband had an assisted death -- at home-- I just assumed a hospice would be an open place where he could have done the same. Not so. And so I would challenge my hospice and all hospices to see that assisted death is an act of comfort giving, that does not contradict the international definition of hospice. If a client feels that hastening their death brings comfort- comfort being the definition of palliative care- who are we to say we know better/ What we are, is people who must look at our own fears and discomfort. 

That began our connection.

I perused her previous interviews and writings and excitedly contacted Jana Buhlman to be our guest on the podcast.

The Death Dialogues Project stands in the middle ground, a place where information is shared and hopefully able to be better understood. 

We are physically located in the northland of New Zealand and it is relevant to mention that NZ has an End of Life Choice Bill that is very slowly making its way through parliament with a large amount of organised opposition.

It's one thing reading a bill on a piece of paper, we can let ourselves become detached from the lives these decisions are affecting.

I'm very pleased thatA n today we can hear directly from one who walked intimately with assisted death in Canada. We'll hear her love story and death story and how her husband's decision for assisted death has impacted her.

You can listen on Spotify or if you look on the right side of this blog you will see other podcast platforms where our podcast is hosted.

And please do us a favour and subscribe to the podcast and find us on Instagram and Facebook and share our mission with our friends so you can be a part of our grassroots effort to get conversations surrounding death out of the closet.