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January 21, 2024 44 mins

In the 1970s, Elizabeth Kubler Ross and Dame Cicely Saunders revolutionized our approach to death. While Kubler Ross emphasized the neglect of the dying in America, Saunders proposed a novel philosophy with her Hospice program. The focus shifted from mere medical treatment to a holistic approach of embracing life during the dying process.

Our guest, Barbara Karnes,  a registered nurse, embarked on her hospice journey driven by Saunders' vision. Inspired by the idea of creating a space for living, Barbara started volunteering for hospice.  The original essence of hospice, existing outside the medical model, has been gradually absorbed, and Barbara sees the emergence of end-of-life doulas as a refreshing return to that independent, compassionate approach.

She envisions a future where end-of-life doulas integrate into the hospice model, providing the crucial gift of time that medical professionals often lack. Barbara emphasizes the importance of educating communities about the distinctive role of doulas, urging them to connect with churches, senior citizen communities, and nursing facilities.

The conversation delves into the societal perception of death as a medical emergency and the reluctance to let go. Barbara advocates for a shift in mindset, facilitated through community education and open dialogue about death. She believes that normalizing death will lead to a more balanced approach to living.

Reflecting on historical shifts in how death is handled, Barbara notes a cyclical pattern. From deaths at home to hospital settings and now a return to a preference for dying at home, education plays a crucial role in shaping societal attitudes. She encourages parents to discuss death openly with their children, contributing to a more informed and accepting future.

Barbara's philosophy underscores life as a continual learning process, emphasizing the importance of expressing love regularly. Drawing parallels between life's tightrope walk and our attempts to balance experiences, she stresses the significance of never leaving words unspoken. In the realm of end-of-life care, expressing love becomes a profound and essential practice, echoing the fundamental truth that life is, indeed, a school of learning. for all of Barbara's books and resources

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