With 9,000 COVID deaths, many of us have lost loved ones recently. Suzanne talks with Cassidy Bastien, an end-of-life doula, about a difficult topic to talk about, the end of life: How to be there for someone when they’re dying, and what to say. This segment talks about the family’s role, to make sure you know you’re loved one’s wishes and advocate for them. Visit her Caregivers Hub Support Group at Facebook.
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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.
Looking for a senior living solution for yourself for a loved one? We at Care Partner Senior Living Pride ourselves in finding answers for seniors in need. Care Partners Offers Independent, assisted living and memory care options through our fifteen vibrant senior living communities in western Washington and Spokane. Care Partners is the best choice for senior living because we deliver quality care at an extremely affordable price. That’s the help you need and the care partners living difference. Visit Care Partners Livingcom. The following podcast is provided by an approved senior care provider on the answers for elders radio network. And Welcome back to answers for elders radio and we are here again with cassidy bastion, who is an end of life du Lah and this our cassidy. Thank you so much for sharing all of this important information with us this hour and certainly talking about the end of life, which is very difficult for so many of us. And you know I I really want to end this hour. It’s been so informative, but I think I want to go back to the heart and there’s so many of our listeners that have loved ones that we may not necessarily know how to how to talk to them, even, you know, at the beginning of planning, all the way through to when it’s time to let go. Like, what do you say to somebody that’s starting, you know, going to pass the way? Do you allow we talked a little bit about denial. There’s a lot of denial there. Who you know? What is our role as a family member? And Cassidy, thank you so much for being there. I think this is really the crux of the whole dynamic of families that are listening today. Is What’s our role in this? Oh my gosh, your role is imperative. You know, I think that at end of life and before we leave this earth, we really and truly just want to be seen and heard and cared for with respect and compassion and dignity. And so your role as a family member is to make sure that you know your people’s wishes and that you advocate for them, not only to your hospice team, to your other families, to your communities, to anybody, because a lot of the time wishes are not narrowed down and they’re not talked about and they’re not honored. And so, even though this is really difficult to talk about. The amazing thing is that we have these these amazing people called end of Life Dulas, right, yeah, what they do? They are non medical, holistic trained professionals on the end of life, death and dying process and how to support families through that. So I love that you sat down and talked with your mom and just said what you want. It is a blessing. How can I honor you exactly? How can I honor you as such a beautiful, appropriate thing? And she looked at me and she goes, I don’t want to be honored, and I went but mom. But here’s the thing that was amazing, cassidy. What I learned is she didn’t want a traditional funeral. What she wanted was something entirely that I never would have thought about and and it was like, okay, I can do that, and I it totally. And here’s the other thing that it allowed me to do. After we’d had that conversation, I decided at the end of her life that I was going to do whatever I could to celebrate her. Yeah, and so when I would bring her to my house, probably once week. You know, she was in Palliette of care at that point, but we knew that she was on the decline. I got her she had bequeathed me her China early. I don’t care if we had macmoney and cheese. I got her China out and we served. We served things on her China and was like, I love that you’re using this and I go, mom, we’re going to celebrate you the rest of your life. Love and and I remember there’s so many things that when I got into that mindset, I started thinking about all the things I have to be grateful for and it just took a minute to if I had a thought, I’d write a note to myself. And so the other day, you know, every once in a while, by driving in my car whatever, I would pick up the phone and I’d call her and I’d go, mom, I just want to it’s to celebrate you moment. I want to tell you about the thought that I had and how amazing you are. And it was like totally, like really, but right. But what it allowed us to do is say goodbye, right, and and it was like, you know, I’m going to get tears in my eyes here because it was a special moment because it the last few days of her life. You know, my story. Everybody kind of knows my story because I had never been married when I would take care of my mom and you know, in all of a sudden my husband had come into my life and we got engaged and of course we pound on the door. She was in skilled nursing and I said, mom, we just got engaged and I was so excited and and she her first comment out to me was thank God I can die now. And and I went, mom, we’re gonna have a wedding, we’re gonna do other I suppose I could get addressed. Well, guess not, Cassidy. She died exactly one month to the date after we got engaged. Of course. And you you know, the thing is my husband kind of feels bad about I go. No, no, no, she let go. She knew I was going to be okay. So, when we say they choose when they go, people wanted me to be happy. She wanted to find me to find my own joy. Yeah, and I think that was really when I had a chance to say all these things. And I know for for me, I always encourage people write things down, down if it’s the most crazy little memory. You know, mom, you brought me that red dress when I was seven years old and I woreant you know, every time I wore it it made me feel good. Yeah, a little things like that. I remember what you sewed me a jumper for Christmas that matched my cousin and we got to wear them the match and it was like the big those are big things, are they not? They absolutely and they’re so imperative and I think when we get over our fear and our denial, we really have the opportunity to do the work that we need to do before we leave here. And that’s not just physical, it’s mental, emotional and spiritual, and all of those things come together. And there’s a book called reimagining death by Lucin the herring. She is a home funeral guide on Woody Island and, oh my goodness, he’s incredible, and her philosophy around preplanning for home funerals and green and natural burials does a lot of that work and it really does sit down and talk to people about what it is that they want for their end of life. And that’s why my business is called mind of life northwest, because this is your end of life. Yeah, we get to choose how we want this to go. So I think that if we just allow ourselves is to have that initial conversation with one I think I think what you’re saying to cassidy is like my mom didn’t want to be celebrated. She didn’t write ceremony. So, you know what, I did it on my own and I did it to her, and I think that’s the thing. I did it with her and I was able to talk about so many things and she’d bring up things that I’d forgotten because we get into dialog and it was like we were able to go through pretty much the whole history of my life. Yeah, since I was born, and you know, we went through some really tough times together. We did not get along, you know, when I was young because I was such, so different from her. But I think one of the things that we had we shared common memories, we shared common experiences, we shared common values because obviously I was taught you know. So there’s a lot of things I think that, you know, when I at the end of my life, I would never say this because I was a daddy’s girl growing up and my parents were divorced, but I always say now my mother was my greatest teacher because of what I learned about myself through absolutely, and that’s, I think, really is to look at these days as such a gift as as when you’re you know, when you’re going through that, and I’m sure this is a thing that somebody like you that’s a Dulah. Yeah, families connect to that, do you know for sure? And I think that. So here’s here’s the thing is that talking about this, in our experiences that we’ve had with death, dying and of life, they’re beautiful and they’re sacred and they’re cherished. But I also want to shine a light on those that don’t always come to that space of acceptance, of understanding, of education, and they fight it too thin nail. They don’t want to talk to their families about what’s happening to them. Sometimes they don’t even tell their families what’s happening to them, and then they pass from something like cancer and their families are just left in pieces and end of life du Lah’s in those scenarios can sit down with that patient who doesn’t want to talk about it and hold space and simply ask them how they’re feeling. On the same time they’re sitting down with the families and talking about the fact that their loved one is not willing to talk about it and how they’re feeling about that and how they can come to terms with this person’s end of life, despite the fact that it’s not going to be this magical thing that they want right. And how do we navigate that and how do we still hold space and honor that while still letting the person who’s dying experience their death the way that they are experiencing exactly exactly, and I pick to what you’re saying is so valuable in the fact that it accepting what is. Yeah, so you made that statement and I think, I think a lot of times denial, you know is is so prevalent in families that they don’t want to talk about it, they don’t know how to bring it up. So what are some tips, and we have just two minutes left, but what are some tips you have in initiating those conversations? So I would absolutely get your family together or your person and sit down, just like you did, go out to lunch, go out to dinner, make dinner, have coffee, have tea and simply ask questions. If this happened to you, what would you what would you want me to do? DO YOU WANT CPR? Do you want to be on a ventilator? Do you want to be in a nursing home? What do you want to do? If you just need to explore options, sit down with it. Call an end of life Doula. You can go on the national end of life du La Alliance. They have a state by state registry, same for Washington state. Find a local end of life du Lah and start asking questions. Look for death positive events in your communities. Join a death cafe, yeah, to join me once a month to talk about death and dying and you never know when there might be something that comes up that allows you to kind of clicking that mindset. So just be kind to yourself and know that there are things out there and just start asking those questions. Yeah, absolutely, and I think the other thing is is ask open into quick questions. Yeah, don’t say do you want to? You know what do you want done? You know, make it more like how can I, how can I do this to honor you exactly, use it in a positive way and understand that, you know, I want to do right by you, mom. This is my goal. It’s like, you know, it’s almost like conflict resolution. This is my goal. This is the outcome I want to have and I want to make sure that I honor you in the way that you choose to and, as a result, I need your guidance, I need your understanding. I want to do right by you, and I think that’s the thing that that as we go on and then, I think to write down the special memories and share them. I think that’s the key with all of this is I know that I’m glad that I got to relive so many of those memories with my mom and I know that there’s listeners out there right now. If you have a loved one, don’t forget to share them. They’re important. We yeah, cassidy, it has been such an honor to have you on the show. Thank you so much and I would love to have you back. You’re amazing, you’re awesome and you know what, just just thank you so much and happy holidays to you as well, as we answer December. Thank you. Same to you, you and to each and every one of you. We are very grateful that you joined us this hour and as you look around to your families and head it into the holiday season, remember we all need to celebrate each other, and so until next week, everyone, be good to each other. We at answers for elders. Thank you for listening. Did you know that you can discover hundreds of podcasts in our library on senior care? So visit our website and discover our decision guys. That will help you also navigate decision making. Find us at answers for elders. Doctor. You’ve worked all your life, often serving others. Is it time for someone else to do the work for you? Hi, I’m Colette With Care Partners Senior Living. Our job at care partners is to serve our residents. No longer will you need to prepare meals, do housekeeping or plan social events. Care Partners provides the setting for new relationships and plan social events without you doing the work. We manage and provide daily care needs to help you thrive in your senior years. Care Partners has fifteen vibrant communities throughout western Washington and Spokane, providing independent, assisted living and memory care services at extremely affordable pricing. And if you ever run out of funds and need to convert to Medicaid, you will never be asked to move. 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Originally published December 19, 2021