Suzanne B. O’Brien RN Talks Life and Death with Reverend Bohdi Be

January 17, 2019

Reverend Bodhi BeMy guest Reverend Bodhi Be has been caring for the dying and teaching others how to provide conscious and compassionate care for those at the end of life through his non-profit organization Doorway Into Light since 2006.  Reverend Bodhi Be is an ordained interfaith minister and is the Executive Director of Doorway Into Light. 

He operates Hawaii’s only nonprofit funeral home, as well as The Death Store, an educational resource center and store on Maui.

Bodhi is a funeral director, death doula, end-of-life and bereavement counselor, hospice volunteer, a teacher and trainer of death doulas, a speaker and workshop leader in the fields of wholehearted and sacred living and dying, and a ceremonial guide. 

Bodhi hosts a weekly radio show, ‘Death Tracks’ which streams online. He is a Notary Public, Coffin Maker, Reiki Practitioner and, together with his wife, children, and grandchildren, are off-the-grid organic homesteaders on Maui.

This interview includes:

  • How Reverend Bohdi Be first became interested in working with dying patients
  • A look back at death and dying 100 years ago and the changes that have taken place over time
  • The greatest challenges we face today in offering quality care to the dying
  • The current Healthcare system and the answer to the aging and end of life crisis.
  • The importance of empowering families and communities with holistic, sustainable and family-based tools, skills and information in the care of the dying and the dead.
  • The secret to transforming our culture is by transforming attitudes and relationships with aging, dying and death
  • How to reclaim the care of the dying and the dead as ‘village building’ work and sacred service.
  • How to Protect and preserve land by utilizing a green burial ground as an economic engine to maintain the land as public commons.
  • How to be part of the 2019 International Death Doula Training April 25th-29th Maui, HI

“To change our culture, to change our lives, requires the transformation of consciousness, and few things shift consciousness as quickly as an awareness of death.” -Reverend Bodhi Be

Links mentioned in this episode:

How to Fill the Gaps in Healthcare with Community Education and Professional End of Life Doulas with Dr Karen Wyatt

January 14, 2019
I'm Interviewing Dr Karen Wyatt - Speaker, author and founder of End of Life University
In this compelling interview on Ask a Death Doula, I will discuss with Dr Wyatt the state of the present healthcare system and the gaps that we are facing. We will also discuss the answer of how End of Life Doulas can fill that gap and be a much needed support to any healthcare program. The future is bright! Suzanne B. O'Brien RN.

Dr. Karen Wyatt is a family physician who has spent her 25 year medical career working with patients in challenging settings, such as hospices, nursing homes and indigent clinics. She has founded a free medical clinic in a homeless shelter, accompanied three medical mission teams to Honduras, and led a non-profit clinic for the uninsured in its growth from a 4-hour per week all-volunteer operation to a full-time, full-service medical center. 

Motivated by her compassionate heart she has put her spiritual beliefs into action by being of service to others in need and by developing Creative Healing LLC an initiative to integrate spirituality into traditional medical practice.  She has twice testified at Senate briefings on the cutting edge model of integrated medical care, combining physical and behavioral health, which she helped create and implement in her clinic for the uninsured.

Forgiveness And How It Affects A Positive End Of Life Experience

November 1, 2018

In the second installment of Ask a Death Doula, we will be discussing the topic of forgiveness and how Death Doulas can help patients and families give and receive it.

Forgiveness is the path to unconditional love. It is a vital component to both patients and families to have a positive end of life experience. We focus on forgiveness during the Stabilization Phase of the patient’s journey. The Stabilization Phase, also referred to as the “Work Phase,” is a time when pain is being managed and all acute issues have been identified and addressed in the Shock Phase, leading to the highest quality of daily life for both the patient and families. It is a time when the patient can interact with those around them and hopefully have lucid conversations. This will allow wonderful work to be done in terms of facilitating conversations and addressing unresolved issues, which will lead to the possibility of forgiveness.

As a Death Doula, we want to help patients and families capitalize on this window of opportunity so that they can accomplish finding forgiveness and bring resolution and closure to any lingering issues. By now we have established trust with our patient and created a bond with them, allowing us to conduct a life review and have personal conversations with them. A lot of this work can be done simply by discussing emotions and issues that have been buried within them for many years and patients can do much of this work themselves just by opening-up about their past regrets. We never push, only guide and encourage them to speak about their life during this time.

Life Review is an evaluation of one’s life at the end stage of life where depression, unresolved issues and guilt may be alleviated. It is a tool that Doulas may use to help the patient remember positive memories, find acceptance within themselves, address current negative thoughts so that they may be dispersed, as well as appreciate the worth of their lifetime achievements.

While conducting a life review, always ask open-ended questions to your patient. Examples of some open-ended questions we will utilize include:

1)      “What kind of work did you do for a living?

2)      “Where did you grow up?

3)      “How did your parents meet?

It is also important to remember to ask yourself “How can I help this person find closure and forgiveness?” Patients will confide in you and express guilt for things they have held onto from their past. We want to address issues such as disconnection to certain family members that they have not spoken to in a long time. Our patient is dying and if they wish to reach out to someone they have not seen or heard from in many years, it is important for us to attempt to make that possible for them. Bridging relationships and giving them time to speak and resolve issues can make a much more positive end of life experience. We encourage giving private time to the patient and those they wish to mend relations with so that they may feel free to share apologies, as well as give and accept forgiveness from one another.

There are Two Types of Forgiveness:

1)      Forgiveness of Self

2)      Forgiveness of Others

Forgiveness of others is generally much easier to achieve. People tend to hold themselves much more accountable for their own actions when they regret something they have done when they are at end of life, as opposed to others who have caused them pain. Sometimes, however, a patient will not want to offer their forgiveness to someone else. It is important to remind them that forgiveness is for them and not the other person. They are offering it to let go of their resentment so that they can bring peace and tranquility into their life in their final days. One technique we can use to help a patient find forgiveness for someone else is to look at the person who has hurt them as a child themselves. Ask questions such as, “Do you know what their life was like?” This can help turn feelings of anger into feelings of empathy and help us resolve these internal issues. Forgiveness of self is generally more difficult to accomplish, but you must remind the patient that they deserve forgiveness just like everyone else. This is not a time to punish themselves for the past.

Forgiveness can change everything and create a positive passing for our patient and their loved ones.


What To Say To Someone Who Has Just Received A Terminal Diagnosis

October 25, 2018

In this first part of the Ask a Death Doula series, we will be discussing what to say to someone who has just received a terminal diagnosis. As you can imagine, this can be an extremely emotional and tense period for the patient, as well as their immediate family and friends. When citing the Doulagivers Level 1 End of Life Doula and Family Caregiver Training, this time in a patient’s end of life journey is referred to as the Shock Phase. It is called the Shock Phase because there is often an overwhelming feeling of shock for both the patient and their loved ones. This “shock” can present itself in many ways such as depression, denial, anger and withdrawal.

It is very helpful to remember that this person and family have just lost all “control” over their life. Telling someone that they are terminally ill and that there is no reversing the process requires those around the family to have a strong and supportive presence. There are so many difficult emotions we may want to express but finding the adequate words can be a challenge. We may fear saying the wrong things and the last thing we want to do is make this situation harder for all involved. Sometimes it may take awhile to be able to say anything at all, and that’s okay. Just know that being a kind and supportive presence during this time can make all the difference to a patient and their family and it isn’t necessary to say much, but here are tips to help you navigate this part of the process.

What to do:

–          Be an incredibly good listener.

–          Ask the family “What can I do for you?” (Little things such as cooking food, cleaning, caring for a pet, sending cards or making tea when others are around can be very helpful).

–          Ask the patient “How are you feeling today?” (Starting by asking this question may give you an idea of what they want to talk about and how open they want to be with you).

–          Allow them to give direction. (This gives them back some sense of control in a time when they need it most).

–          Look for any immediate issues that need to be addressed. E.g. safety, pain, exhaustion of patients and caregivers. (Although your attention will mostly be on the patient, it is important to never forget about the caregivers. Sometimes the best thing you can do is offer support to the caregivers so that they have the strength and energy to care for the patient).


What not to do:

–          Say “I’m sorry” or be overly sympathetic to their situation. (Understand that not everyone will respond well to feeling as though others pity them. It is okay to express sorrow for their circumstances but avoid “feeling sorry for them”).

–          Give direction or opinionated advice on things that aren’t direct issues to patient or caregiver safety. (Never, ever offer suggestions or ideas for treatment or cures. Do not try to “fix” the situation. They will ask you for your advice if they would like it).

–          Take over. (This is about what they want, not what you want. Respect their wishes always).

Why is this important? It is vital to establish trust and security with a patient and their family at this time when their world has been turned upside-down. The best way to achieve this is through being a strong, solid support. Meet the patient and family “Where they are” in their process and work from there. Building trust sets the tone for your entire journey with them.

xoxoxo Suzanne


Elder Care Doula Training

January 11, 2018

In this episode of "Ask a Death Doula" We will be talking about how to care for the Elderly. With a holistic model of caring, Doulagivers has developed an Elder Care Doula Training with a heavy emphasis on the importance of bringing back the awreness and importance of caring for this vulnerable population. Through education, kindness and compassion, we can help to support our elderly and the families that care for them. In this podcast, you will learn the alarming statistics of our elder population and what we need to do in order to support this increasing aging population.


My Humanitarian Trip to Zimbabwe, Africa Doing Hospice Volunteer Work

January 11, 2018

In this episode, I will share my lifechanging experience doing volunteer hospice work in Zimbabwe, Africa in 2012. Coming from the United States where we are very priveledged to have plenty of medical supplies and lots of medicine to help with the suferring that can accompany the end of life process- it was heartbreaking to see those affected by such high level of end of life processes with little to no of the medical support that we have in the US. What they did have was one another and the power of presence. The incredible hospice there would take a neighbor and train them to sit with the neighbor who was dying and teach them how to guide both the patient and the family through the end of life process. A concept that was so beautiful and effective. One that reminded me of how "Doulas" are used for assisting woman during pregnancy. This was the beginning of the birth of my End of Life Doula Training now known as Doulagivers. Doulagivers is a holistic training that teaches the doula how to care for the elderly and end of life patient through all three phases of end of life- physically, emotionally and spiritually. We are truly a global community and need to support one another in every way we can. xo Suzanne

      I am so gratful to Island Hospice for all they taught me and for the warm welcome and support from all the people of Zimbabwe. Please visit their website and see the wonderful work they do.


New Dawn of Hope- Care for Children and Adolescents in Zimbabwe, Africa 



Doulagivers End of Life Doula Family Caregiver Training Level 1 Week 1

January 7, 2018


Our award winning Family Caregiver Training is a global outreach.

Learn the Skill, Change the World 

In this episode, I will share the first class of the End of Life Doula family caregiver training. This podcast will go over The Shock Phase - The moment someone gets a terminal diagnosis. You will learn how to be a support to both the patient and their loved ones at this very critical time.The Doulagivers ® Family Caregiver Training allows families to regain and learn the skills of how to care for a dying loved one. This was something that was handed down generation-to-generation 100 years ago. We are bringing this skill back and it is changing the world.

Learn how to care for someone who is dying through all three phases of end-of-life.  We are pleased to offer Doulagivers Family Caregiver Training.  The information presented in this training is appropriate for everyone: family, caregivers, volunteers, and community members.  Participants will learn about the three phases of end-of-life and the interventions they can use to provide comfort and support to both the patient and their loved ones.  This workshop empowers individuals to embrace the concept of community; caring for each other at the end of life.


Doulagivers Level 1 training was a Godsend for me and my friends. I found Suzanne’s class while researching how to support a friend who was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive, terminal brain cancer. The class is offered for free and provides all the helpful information we needed to support our friend during his end of life experience. I gained so much through this course, that I ended up going back and donating money for the class! Do yourself a favor and take this course, and if you can, donate! It’s more than worth it! Thank you Doulagivers and Suzanne for making a terrible loss a little less scary and much more profound. ~ Eternally Grateful Jana H. United States

“The four week FREE End of Life Doula Training Level 1 webinar was absolutely amazing. I love online studies and opportunities for personal growth and this course definitely has to be one of the very best I’ve had the chance to partake of to date. It is such important knowledge that I believe it should be included in every high school /university curriculum. Suzanne engages learners in a personable, compassionate and practical manner. She takes serious subjects and makes them empowering through providing knowledge and a skillset that anyone can employ for a more positive end of life experience either for themself or when caring for those they love. I am forever grateful for this course and cannot recommend it highly enough. Susan D. Thailand

“I had no idea how useful our little training last month would become. I was able to , myself, be at peace, say goodbye, and have no regrets.  The gift you have given me is absolutely priceless.  I couldn’t have done all that a month ago.  I am very tired, but will sleep well tonight knowing that I am honoring my grandmother in her very important process to the end of her life here on earth.  Thank you so very much.” Nancy W. United States


What is a Death Doula?

January 6, 2018

Welcome to Ask a Death Doula. This podcast is a free educational forum. Suzanne B.O'Brien RN is a former hospice and oncology nurse. Suzanne will use her years of bedside experience to answer questions from family caregivers and community memnbers in order to help them care for their own loved ones at the end of life. Suzanne is the founder and creator of The Doulagivers End of Life Doula Training. She trains Doulagivers all over the world- as all of us deserve the same education, kindness and support when we reach this fragile and often stressful phase of life.

    In this episode, Suzanne will explain what is a Death Doula and how Death Doulas are the new non-medical profession that is creating the foundation for better end of life experiences for everyone. This progressive movement is being embraced all over and is being recognized and supported by leading organizations in the US and abroad.


“I Love Being a Death Doula” Featuring Nathalie Bonafe from A Gentler Parting LLC

January 6, 2018

This is our very first segment of " I Love Being a Death Doula". In this episode we talk with Doulagiver Specialist Nathalie Bonafe of New Haven Connecticut. Nathalie has trained in all 3 Doulagiver trainings and has a full service consultanting business called A Gentler Parting. In this episode, Nathalie shares her journey from Yale New Haven researcher to End of Life specialist. Reflectiong on her passion and experiences from 2017, Nathalie inspires listeners with sharing her rewards of the Doulagiver journey and her plans for 2018. Nathalie offers free consultations in person and via phone/Zoom. Please see her contact and website information below. Enjoy the show and please leave a comment and review so we can continue to improve and grow our global community. - Suzanne B. O'Brien RN

Nathalie Bonafe PHD 203-815-5743