Podcast #105 We Will All Be Called to Care for Someone at the End of Life – Suzanne O’Brien RN

Founder of of the Doulagivers Institute, one of the largest doula training institutes in the US, Suzanne O’Brien RN shares her expertise and opinions about how we approach death and dying. With 98% of the hands-on care at the end of life done by family caregivers, she asks, “What can we do to support them? What do they need? What can we provide to fill in the gaps?”

For more information on Best Life Best Death please visit our website at ⁠⁠⁠www.bestlifebestdeath.com⁠⁠⁠ Follow us on our social channels to receive pertinent and helpful resources on death, grieving, and more at: Facebook: ⁠⁠⁠www.facebook.com/bestlifebestdeath⁠⁠⁠ Instagram: ⁠⁠⁠www.instagram.com/bestlifebestdeath⁠⁠⁠

Doulagivers – ⁠www.doulagivers.com⁠

Transcript:

#105 We Will All Be Called to Care for Someone at the End of Life – Suzanne O’Brien RN

Diane Hullet: Hi, I am Diane Hullet. Welcome to the Best Life Best Death podcast. Today I’ve got a really interesting speaker that we’ve not heard from before, Suzanne O’Brien. Suzanne is a hospice nurse, an rn. A bestselling author, an internationally acclaimed speaker and trainer. She’s the founder and c e o of the Doula Givers Institute, and I think she’s got some really interesting things to share about hospice caregiving and all of our roles.

So welcome, Suzanne. So good to have you here. 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited. 

Diane Hullet: Start out by, just give us a little Suzanne O’Brien background.

How did you get into this work and when did you start the Doula Givers Institute? 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Sure. Well, I am a registered nurse by trade and I’ve worked most of my nursing career in hospice, which is end of life care and oncology, which is cancer care. And that was my, my purpose and my passion, I knew right when I was in that space that I had found it, why I am here, what I need to do, and.

Unfortunately most end of lifes, I have to say this from my experience, are not going well and really trying to identify what’s happening here. What are the gaps like, what’s missing? And what can we do to change that? Because we only have one opportunity to have that go well. And so I remember, you know, and I was literally just talking about this, running all over my county as a hospice nurse in my Honda Civic, trusted Ho Honda Civic, after hours not being paid, trying to be with those families.

’cause I knew every time I was. Present there, their stress would go down. And every time I left the stress would go up. And as a hospice nurse, I was only there for one hour, once a week. I mean it cr it’s crazy to say that. And the model of hospice is that I’m supposed to, as the hospice nurse, teach the loved ones how to do that care.

98% of the actual care is done by the family. Well, right now we have a perfect storm of death is the number one fear people. Treat death like it’s optional. We [00:02:00] don’t plan on it. We don’t talk about it. And then when it shows up, which inevitably Diane, it will one day it’s a train wreck. It’s a crisis.

And so I finally, from all of that, came up with, wait a minute, if we’re supposed to teach the loved ones, how to do the care and fears in front of them, and people come on hospice very late, why don’t I take all my knowledge and put it in a comprehensive training, identify the three phases, it’s called the Doula Givers Model, event of Life, and the interventions to use in each one of those phases, and then infuse it with bedside stories.

And I went to my c e O of hospice. I knocked on the door. I had never talked to him before. He just kind of walked the hallways. And I, he said, come in. And I said, I have this idea. It’s not going well for families. Here’s a training. He said, this is great. He said, we can’t use it. I said, why? He goes, we won’t get paid for it.

We won’t get reimbursed for it. So I said, well, how much is the reimbursement? I was just curious what, why this was being held up. It was like 166. $6 a day and I said, oh, I’ll go teach it at the library for free. And all of a sudden news picked it up and then I put it online and people from all over the world would [00:03:00] take it.

And to this day, which is almost 18 years later, this training is still attended, and I do it live and I answer questions by thousands of people from around the world to teach families again, that skill. Of how to care for somebody at the end of life. So it led me on, I never, I never knew what was happening, Diane.

I just always was like, how do we show up? It started as family caregiver. In those trainings. People said, I could do this. I could be a doula for the end of life. I was like, yes, let’s go. In 2012, I went to Zimbabwe, Africa. To volunteer as a hospice nurse. They taught me about the power of the presence really being the best medicine we have for one another.

And I came back and I just, you know, kept talking about that, promoting it, and here we are. And now we’re on the verge again of bringing death back as a human experience, not a medical one. And that’s gonna change the entire end of life Scope. 

Diane Hullet: You know, part of what I love about your story, Suzanne, is it’s like you really, it’s really grounded in the medical and then it really transcends the [00:04:00] medical and then it’s really grounded in your personal experience with families as a nurse.

And then you really said, how does this go bigger and, and you’ve taken it bigger, both in terms of training, doulas. Who are then mm-hmm. Professionals. And I think we’ll talk more about like, where are, where is that headed as a profession? And then also you’ve taken it on for how do I impact family caregivers?

And that seems like what you’re really passionate about right now. I, I loved these questions. Suzanne’s got a wonderful newsletter. Doula Givers has a great newsletter and her recent newsletter said, These questions. What if I told you the greatest determining factor in whether or not an end of life journey is considered positive?

Is the level of support experienced throughout the process? So true. Number two, you said, would you agree that there is always room for more support in that scenario, or would you just settle for the bare minimum? And then you asked, when [00:05:00] considering your own end of life or that of a loved one, would you want as much support as possible or would you rather face it alone?

And I think when people really look at this, come to terms with it, believe that their loved one or themselves are going to be facing it. We all want more support, and I think this is what we’re sorely lacking. 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Yes, I agree. I agree so much. I mean, I, we could go on and on about this, but it is so critically important to step into this conversation because each and every one of us will be called one day to be with somebody at the end of life.

And the more empowered we are with resources and understanding and knowledge that can be. One of the most beautiful parts of a life’s journey because it used to be death, used to be revered as a sacred rite of passage, just like birth and, and marriage and those things. And we’ve really removed all of that support and learning.

So right [00:06:00] now, it’s, and when I say it’s a thousand times harder, I’m being very I’m being very light on that. And we only have the one opportunity to do it. And when we know that it can go well with certain factors, why aren’t we sharing that while we are at Doula Givers Institute and you with the conversation and your beautiful work you do.

Diane Hullet: I think that we really share that passion for if only people understood how this, yes, it’s about death, but just death is the final step in the journey. And as Barbara Karn says, you know, you’re living until you’re dead. There’s really, it’s really not so much about dying. It’s about living right up until the very end of this life on this, on this earth.

So what, you know, how do you tackle this? Like what are some of the angles that you come at this in the work you do? 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Yeah, great question. So I honestly will look at what is the need, what is happening? And I have to say that we have such a beautiful community and people every day, and it breaks my heart because every day I get messages and emails from families [00:07:00] who talk about an end of life that was tragic and traumatic and didn’t go well, and they wish they knew this beforehand.

And if only, and I’m like, So our beautiful doula giver practitioners are absolutely amazing. And when people say, well, our healthcare system is breaking down, which it is, and me and I can speak this way, we have heroes in that system. They’re set up. It’s virtually impossible for them to do what they wanted to do when they came into that ’cause they have so many patients and so little time.

So the doula, giver practitioners. Are wonderful, but even if our institute and there’s other great institutes put out a thousand a year, is that going to really match what the need is? And so listening to my families and saying what was happening and then really cementing the fact that 98% of the hands-on care is done by family caregivers and hospice is the end of life provider, which is a beautiful model, is supposed to teach them.

And there’s the gap. It’s not working. There’s not enough time. Fear is there. They’re coming on processes late. Let’s get [00:08:00] right to the family caregiver. What can we do to support them? What do they need? How can we provide it, and how can we make that shift for them? So I feel like, again, it’s a multi-tiered transition that we need to make, no pun intended, transition the word, however, to change end of life.

But it really is, and right now families have one opportunity to have this go. Well. They’re, they’re the ones that are doing it, and we need to show up for them. Say 

Diane Hullet: more about this. 98%. What, what, where does that statistic come from? 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Medicare. So Medicare did a recent study and they found that 2% they found out with their study that 30 on average, 30 minutes a day by a hospice, some hospice worker.

’cause you know, you have an aide one day, a social worker a nurse once a week on the average only 30 minutes a day is a hospice worker in the home of an end of life patient that came to 98%. And I have to tell you that. I was there as that hospice nurse and it is terrible. And one of the things I think, Diane, that’s so important about talking about this before we get there [00:09:00] is that.

People don’t wanna talk about death for the most part, which again, we need to uncover what that’s about. But when they find out the reality of what hospice does and what they don’t do, they’re in it. And when they didn’t realize that I wasn’t there every day and that they needed adjunct support or whatever it may be, it was another huge below to this already traumatic experience.

That’s not the time that you wanna find out what resources you actually have and what you need to be filling in. Right. Definitely 

Diane Hullet: a, a theme I’ve been hearing and bringing forward with guests is this idea of getting on hospice sooner simply means you have the care of the team. And, and I think the people who are most unhappy with their hospice care experience are often people who were on, you know, with hospice for one to two to three weeks, and the team wasn’t in place and the support wasn’t there and nobody had been trained, and it all just happened so fast that nobody kind of could catch their breath.

So I’m always. Saying to people, wouldn’t you wanna investigate the hospices in your [00:10:00] area long before you need them? Just kind of absolutely have your ear to the ground. What do you hear? What are the rumors? What have friends liked? So that you have an idea of who you might call for you or for your loved one.

And then I. Call them before you think you need them, call them when things are starting to be a little questionable. Maybe you don’t even qualify yet, but you can find out what they offer and you can begin to see what that support system is. And as you’re saying, the gap in the support system is that they are not there all the time.

And in fact, As you said, you know, maybe some days they’re there for four hours, maybe some days someone is there for two hours, but on average they’re there 30 minutes a day leaving families caregiving the vast majority of the time, and we’re very unprepared for this also. Can we throw in here, what do you know the statistics on?

I bet that is mostly women doing the caregiving. 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Of course. Yeah, so that’s a really good point. So on average, it’s about the age of a woman is 50, 50.1 [00:11:00] that’s doing the caregiving, and it’s usually the woman and. Look, here’s the thing that I wanna say is that we’ve been dying for thousands of years. We know we know how to do this.

It’s the last hundred that we completely turn this into a medical experience, and it’s not. And by doing so, we became into a very dangerous place because we tell doctors fix it and it’s not. Death is not to be fixed, right? It’s to be supported. It’s to be a natural occurrence. And when we start tinkering and doing things, we almost can create a lot more suffering.

This is a natural thing, and like you said, not only find out about your hospice, but plan ahead. Where do I wanna be? So nine out of 10 people poll said that they wanna be at home at term. Like I’m, yep, sign me up. Right? What does the caregiver need to feel confident and supported to make that happen?

Because when you are, and when you know what gaps you need to fill and what education you can [00:12:00] learn ahead of time or any of that, I tell you this, it goes 80 to 90% better no matter what the disease process. That’s a win. That’s a win across the board for me, for something that’s a hundred percent guarantee.

I, 

Diane Hullet: I love that. Right. Something with a hundred percent guarantee. If you can improve it from being a train wreck to being something that actually makes space for kind of the mystery and the magic and the wonder of this transition. Absolutely not, not to be all pie in the sky. It, it’s, Terribly sad and terribly difficult, but I think we heap a whole lot of difficult on top of it that wouldn’t have to be there.

You’re really talking about doula givers training in two different ways. Yeah. One is training doulas and one is training caregivers. Yeah. Say it’s just a snippet of what you offer in your caregiver training, and then let’s turn to the 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: doula piece. Perfect. So we recently changed our tracks because based on again, what we’re getting response from, so many people have taken our level one family caregiver training, and they loved it.

And they said, well, I don’t [00:13:00] wanna be a professional doula giver, but I want more of that. I want more training. And we’re like, okay, absolutely. We know to get to the caregivers. So we’ve, we’ve really divided this into two very different distinct tracks. We now don’t offer. The standalone certified end of life doula training.

And I’ll tell you why. There are wonderful trainings out there, and this is a global movement, but with any movement comes a lot of flutter and there’s a lot of things happening. This is not a government licensure, the death doula, and because of that, Good news and not good news. So you can have death doula training A, B, and C, all titled the same and completely different.

And this is causing damage to the reputation of a death doula because when a doula has extensive training, which is wonderful, and walks through and takes care of a family, and the doctor hears about the response of that, They expect that that’s what death doulas are gonna provide. But different trainings offer very different things, and that’s okay in one sense, but it’s also confusing people [00:14:00] out there, and we wanna be careful.

What we did was we took the certified end of life doula, which is three different levels, and it has a wealth of information and really, Took it and tailored the whole thing towards the family, the caregiver. So teaching end of life disease processes, the pre-planning, which we’ve made our own advanced directive.

Nine choices that really have to be thought to have that positive, not only end of life, but where would you wanna be? Who do you want to do the care? What about after death celebrations? So pre, during the three phases and all of the medications and just talking about those practical things. And then also what I call dying to be green.

The after choices of funnel rolls and living weights and first person eulogies, and how you can actually have an end of life with a cremation for less than a hundred dollars. Yes, there are ways, not easy, but people need to know these so that you can almost think of it as the certified end of life doula training, but now it’s for family caregivers.

No certification, no testing, which is great. Second track is what’s [00:15:00] the doula? Giver? Practitioner. So that is our, and it’s a full spectrum now, elder care training, end of life, doula care consultant, grief and legacy doula, so that we know when we have that title as a doula giver, practitioner, people know what they’re getting when you walk through the door.

Diane Hullet: Yeah. Fantastic. And I love how you’ve kind of broken it out because there is the professional track and then there is the lay person caregiver who just wants to Yes. Need more so they can make this better. You, you know, 18 years, 18 plus years in this, you’ve seen a lot of changes in this global movement.

What kind of generalizations would you make about what you see happening? Where do you see this going? What are people who go through your training coming out and doing? So 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: what I love so much is the teachings that death provides us. It’s our greatest teacher about humanity and how we’re all connected and we’re so much more similar.

And again, I really credit being in Zimbabwe with that hospice team from Island [00:16:00] Hospice taking me out, working in huts and showing me they didn’t have the medications and the equipment that we have, I. Showing me the power of the presence and they were taking a, a, somebody from the neighboring Hutt and teaching them to sit like a doula and just knowing the physiology.

What really couple things that really surprised me about the online training that we get people from all over the world for years is how Western medicine has really infiltrated into many places in the world in extending life and this fear of death. For whatever reason has really become, it’s the number one in the world and it’s in places.

You know, I have people in Uganda and I have people in Ukraine, and I have people that come to this training and talk about the same thing about their communities and not talking about end of life, not having the support and facing an an aging population. So, What I wanna say is this, how we make this shift.

And what’s so exciting is literally by perspective. [00:17:00] That’s the first step, is remembering that death is not a medical experience. It is a human one and a holistic one, and it can go really well. So that’s the, I even say this to doctors and they go. Oh, oh yeah. Wait a minute. And so if we can get that reality back in, then we start saying, okay, so it’s a human holistic skill and these are the things that we found that support families and support patients and, and from a practical standpoint.

But what about the stories and what about what people wanna share at the end of life that completely take this. Change your whole view of end of life. Like the very common things about, yeah. People seeing their loved ones at the end of life. Like there are very common, practical things that really open up a much bigger picture here.

Diane Hullet: I love that. That’s such a great big picture on it, big picture perspective on it. Mm-hmm. I, I love, I recently saw Dr. Sarah Kerr, who’s a doula and educator in Canada, had a [00:18:00] fabulous little short the other day. And the quote that I love from it was, she said, you know, We can come to death and we can have unconditional cooperation with the unavoidable.

And I thought it was such a great phrase. It’s really good. And she said, you know what, if you thought of this as like two diplomats shaking hands, you don’t have to like death. You don’t have to be excited about it or looking forward to it, but it is an unavoidable thing that you are having to cooperate with.

So I, I think that’s, I love that Diane. It’s like, how does that go? How does that take it to this bigger level where we sink into the acceptance? Yes. And we be with it. And I think that’s what you’re talking about when you talk about the yes. That you were being shown in this, in the huts was this sense of humanity.

Oh, 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: with just compassion and holding the space and presence and knowing this is a natural experience, not just for the person that was dying, but for all those loved ones as well. And you [00:19:00] know, when you think about it, ’cause oftentimes I said, where did this fear come from? And this fear is palpable. Yeah.

You see people do things that you, you are just, you know. It’s horrifying at times and everyone is just so scared. And I think it’s, it’s a combination. I love what Sarah Ker just said, but think about the terminology we use in the medical profession. I’m sorry, there’s no more I can do for you. He lost his battle with cancer.

When did death become the ultimate enemy? And have we set this up in a way that we have created this fear of this on many levels, so we really need to just. Look at this for the truth of it and say, okay, we need to start rewriting the script. And it starts with you and me, not as educators. That’s really important.

But as people to decide what quality of life is to me ahead of time, and when would I not wanna pursue aggressive treatment? Where would I wanna be? What would make that possible for my family to do that really well? Because I’ve had hospice patients who said, look what I’m doing to my family. Like they’re dying in the bed and they feel guilty at the stress.

They’re, and I, they’re not wrong. The pressure that they’re under. There’s not resources and support, so you, we have to change this on many and we have to let doctors off the hook because first of all, there’s so much they can do for somebody at the end of life with symptom management and holding that space.

We need to rewrite the script here, the chapters, the book, the ending. 

Diane Hullet: Yeah. So that our understanding of it can change and that we can do it better. I just think there’s something about going into it with such fear for everyone involved and hoping it won’t happen. That I, I just find kind of astounding that we’re so what are we, are we just so immersed in our busy slash productive slash western white dominant culture that thinks it all has to have it all together and be moving forward and that somehow we’ve created death as the ultimate thing to avoid?

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Yeah. We’ve given, we’ve given it away, we’ve outsourced it, and we’ve outsourced our elderly. And I’m not here to judge and, and put judgment on anything. But I think if we wanna see where we need to make change, we’ve gotta know where we were, where we are, and what we can do to move forward. And if you think about, you know, we kind of discard our elderly in these homes and states, and we don’t see that aging process.

We don’t think they have value because yeah, they don’t have all the answers or they’re not, they actually have many answers. They’re not as fast moving and, and things of that nature. And I think we just have to pause and say, we, we’ve done something wrong here and we need to take this back. So we’ve, but we’ve given our elderly and our end of life away, and so then when it’s there, we, it’s just a train wreck and it doesn’t go well.

I’ve had doctors call me up and doula givers, doctors call me and say, you need to help us. We’re intubating people. The families are demanding that, and, and the hospital’s standing behind them like, this is. This is not going well. And, and you know what? And it really can go well, and I wanna share that death can really go well with the right support and education.

So why wouldn’t we? I think when 

Diane Hullet: it goes well, it brings people together instead of tearing people apart. And I think there’s a sense of wholeness and closure instead of a rupture. And again, not that it isn’t terribly, terribly sad and terribly, terribly heartbreaking and grief filled. We haven’t even really touched on grief, but, but it doesn’t have to be the enemy.

Suzanne O’Brien RN: No, and I’ll tell you what, can I just say, because I wanna expand on that for a minute. So, at the end of life, when it does show up, when the fear is so palpable and it’s a fight or flight for the family caregivers, you’re, you’re, they’re in their home. They don’t know how to do this, but you’re saying, you know, care for your loved one, they’re dying.

You know, and good luck, they miss out. This sacred time with their loved one because they’re in such panic mode. These are the moments of final conversations for I love yous, for thank yous, for forgiveness for that, you know, just what you said. And when people aren’t grounded in their bodies, they can’t have that.

They can’t have that. So on multiple levels, we need to. We need to [00:23:00] be changing the face of this. Yeah. 

Diane Hullet: Tell me more about your training. That’s about elder care doula. I’m intrigued by that because I, I was thinking the other day and I put up something on Instagram about this. You know, I’ve, I’ve got friends in these kind of protracted caregiving situations.

The parents are not terminal. It is not time for that last beautiful moment together or whatever. Mm-hmm. But they’re just in it and it’s really, and there’s no end in sight and the adult children are working and trying to manage mom and dad aging and wow. I watched this happening and because we’re so fragmented and many of us live in different parts of the country, it’s really something to see.

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Yeah, so let me share with that. So everything really with doula givers was organically built out of need. So there was this one time in New York City where I was called into Sloan Kettering. That’s a cancer hospital. We’re sending somebody home, they need a doula giver, they’re going on hospice. I was like, great.

I walked in for the consult through the hospital door room. Him and his wife were there, and I literally said to [00:24:00] myself, he’s dying. Like you could tell this man was like really sick. He was in his, I think late sixties. And I explained what I did. They said, oh, that is so great what you do. We just don’t need you yet.

’cause they couldn’t get past the death thing. They couldn’t get past the end of life. And I was like, they, and I knew that they were going home alone and not okay, but you have to meet people where they are. And I was like, they needed me weeks ago, months ago. But if I had an elder care support, if I had something that didn’t have that death tag on it, they would’ve taken me home.

And of course they called me Wednesday. He died on Sunday. But this is what I wanna say, is that we have an aging population. We have never seen before in history. Diane, we have 78, and just in the US alone, we have 78 million people over the age of 65. 20% of them, 20% don’t have their own children. It’s usually adult children that will care for the dying parent or aging.

Not always, by the way, for multiple reasons, but just in that whole staggering statistic, who’s gonna care for them. So, We know that this [00:25:00] aging, I always say good news, bad news, we’re aging. So like the average age of life is 80 now, and it used to be 46 a hundred years ago. With that advanced age usually comes physical limitations, cognitive limitations, financial limitations are all of the above.

So there are these beautiful elder people. That are deserving of holistic good care that are not end of life yet, but we need to support, we need to bring back that reality and it can be for decades. So elder care doula, and then I have some doulas who say they never get an end of life client. They’re always their, their elder care that they just step into the end of life role, which is beautiful.

But I think again, bring back with no judgment, the awareness that we need to do a much better job of caring for our elderly and holistically, holistically. 

Diane Hullet: I think it comes back to what we were saying at the beginning. Some of this is, is just how do I say it? Almost like facing what is coming on a practical level before you need to face it.

So do you are you getting an early [00:26:00] diagnosis of dementia? Do you have a history of Alzheimer’s in your family? Are you on your third round of cancer? What you know, is it, is a heart attack typical in your family? What’s, what are you kind of looking at? How do you face it so that you’re doing some planning and some thinking ahead of time, and maybe that means helping somebody in your family take a training like this, or maybe that means helping someone in your family read a book that they found difficult to read or watch a movie, some way to open the conversation.

Yes, yes. So that, that this, these conversations are being had, how are we gonna take care of Uncle Ed who has no children? Yes. What’s the, what’s the plan for we cousins one lives nearby, one doesn’t like, it’s just so ripe for family conflict and difficulty, but it’s also right for cooperation. 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Yes. Yes.

And here’s the thing, you will never regret. Caring for your loved one. You don’t wanna start figuring it out when it’s happening. You wanna do what you ’cause These are [00:27:00] not easy answers sometimes. Right. Who is taking care of Uncle Ned? Well, I never really got along with him, you know? Well, he is really grown.

Well, we have, you know, the room, or you can put a granny pod in the back of a house. But I wanna tell you a cool story. There is an 88 year old woman who used to come to my death cafes, and she hired me to teach her children, her adult children who were in their fifties. The whole certified end of life doula, like we have this family track.

She wasn’t sick. She was so progressive and great and she wanted them to feel supported, and c b s News did a, did a piece on that because it was wonderful. And the daughter was like, yeah, I get it. Mom wants to be home. And she wanted to make sure that we were supported in knowing how to care for her confidently.

And this training was amazing, but the woman initiated that. That is, That is everything. Yeah, that 

Diane Hullet: is. That is so cool. And then that is so cool. The people who can’t initiate it don’t remember that they need to initiate it and the caregivers are still stuck. So, and it always strikes me too, this comes down, so much of it comes down to economics, right?

I feel like families that can [00:28:00] afford to hire some help or can afford to pay a family member for some help, or have the means to contribute to Uncle Ed’s care. Yeah, that’s always gonna make a difference. And that piece, I, I don’t know, you know, it’s building communities, I guess. It’s building communities.

Suzanne O’Brien RN:

You know, I just did a, a, a study well, a podcast. It’s, it’s something we did and it’s the seven steps to bringing death back to a holistic human experience. And, and one of the last things is, is to build doula houses and doula communities. And why do I say that? So that we can care for one another in these se settings that have different tiers of acuity, so to speak.

So if there’s a woman that doesn’t have children, oh, we’re checking on her, you know, if she needs to have a community meal, whatever it is. Like, like this is what can be done. And you really, I think, used to be done in the world and it needs to be done again, and it needs to be done globally. Globally. 

Diane Hullet: Yeah.

I love this, Suzanne. Well, you, your brain and my brain are just like popping, [00:29:00] going out to the stars and back to the weeds. I love it. The big picture thoughts and then the like tiny little concrete things. But I think it’s really an important conversation and I always think, you know, if these conversations on this podcast can inspire a conversation at home, that’s really the whole point.

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Yeah, and I also, just two things like planning ahead for you and I not as educators, and sharing that with our loved ones and our medical provider, but our loved ones. What, what we would want or not want is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Because as difficult as it is for them to say goodbye to us in this physical body, it is so much easier when the choices are already made.

When the choice is already made. So give that gift to your family. 

Diane Hullet: Yes. So well said. Well, I thank you so much, Suzanne, for your time. You are hopping around on Zoom and in person all over the place doing amazing trainings and I think we’re just lucky to have you.

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Well, Diane, right back to you. Thank you so much for the work that you do.

I learned so much from you and I’m inspired and let’s continue to do what we do. 

Diane Hullet: Let’s talk again. Let’s see. Let’s check in like a year and see. Yeah. Account and accountability. Yeah, and who’s gone through these family trainings. I think it’s fabulous. You can find out more about the work of doula givers@doulagivers.com, and of course, you can find out about the work I do at Best Life.

Best death.com. You’ve been listening to The Best Life Best Death podcast, and I’m Diane Hullett. Thanks for my guest today, Suzanne O’Brien. 

Suzanne O’Brien RN: Thank you everybody. 

Diane Hullet

Diane Hullet

End of Life Doula, Podcaster, and founder of Best Life Best Death.