Ask A Death Doula
How Studies of Magic Mushrooms are Proving Consciousness

How Studies of Magic Mushrooms are Proving Consciousness

June 27, 2022

Big Ideas:


1.What Psilocybin is [00:27] – Psilocybin is the main psychedelic compound found in “magic mushrooms.” The talk of using this psychedelic at the end of life has been a hot topic and is being studied intensively. It is being looked at as having potentially effective medicinal/therapeutic properties in the treatment of fear, anxiety, and depression for those at the end of life. It is a naturally occurring compound found in specific species of mushrooms. It has been used for thousands of years all around the world as part of spiritual rituals and cultural ceremonies. In the 50’s and 60’s, Psilocybin started to be studied for its therapeutic properties in the use of treating a plethora of ailments and conditions. Everything from addiction, anxiety, depression, and other various forms of mental illness were treated in clinical studies with thousands of patients. In the 1970’s this research was abruptly ended. It has recently started up again with a renewed focal point on studying the use of this compound in those at the end of life.


2.The “Trip Treatment” [3:20] – In 2015, an article in the New Yorker was titled “The Trip Treatment.” It was all about the use and studies of Psilocybin and the promising results it has shown in treating those who had extreme fear, anxiety, and depression in their end-of-life journeys. Not only did they have great results overcoming these particular issues, but the use of Psilocybin led to incredible breakthroughs and a sort of spiritual understanding/awakening amongst those treated with it. There is now a growing movement for using Psilocybin for this purpose in the End-of-Life space. There is much debate over this issue, but there are new studies currently being conducted at NYU, UCLA, and John Hopkin’s University amongst other notable and well-renowned research institutions.


3.The Similarities Between the Spiritual Awakening at End of Life and Psilocybin Use [6:30] – Many of the things relating to the spiritual breakthroughs patients have in these various studies are remarkably similar to some of the things I have been sharing for years. As a former hospice and oncology nurse, I have worked at the bedside of over one thousand end of life patients over the last twenty years. My end of life patients say the same exact thing as those who have been treated with Psilocybin. I want to share that this experience is naturally occurring in people as they near their end of life. As their physical body is diminishing, their spiritual body is growing. There’s a time in their journey where they have one foot in this world and one foot in the next. In my opinion, many people go back and forth before they fully leave this world. I say this because I have had so many patients who suddenly wake up with a bunch of new information and a renewed and profound perspective on life. They speak of all being connected to one unconditional loving energy and this parallels what has been documented in these Psilocybin studies.


4.You Don’t Have to Wait Until the End of Life to Have Your Own Breakthrough [9:05] – The whole goal of life is the journey of evolving to find your spiritual self. To understand yourself and to be able to live authentically and true to who you really are. To overcome the obstacles and the suffering we deal with in our physical world. It is to get beyond your ego and to tap into what is in your heart and let it guide you. We all have two internal directional instruments we can choose to follow. One is our analytical mind that is shaped by our experiences, prejudices, and imprinting of other people’s views. Following this directional path leads to us living a fear-based existence. By contrast, our heart guidance system will lead us to our unique truth. If we understood this human journey for what it really is and that we are all connected to one unconditional loving energy with no judgment – that life is all about learning and growing – we would have so much more compassion for one another and shift the entire world into a better place for everyone.


1. “Death is having a rebirth and it is bringing back the sacredness of end of life and the sacredness of life. We have got to understand what this journey is about and how we can make it the best for everybody in it.” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN


2. “Take the time to create a loving space in your heart and ask yourself, ‘Where does my heart want me to be of service?’ Find that internal place where you can love others, yourself, and everything and everyone on this incredible planet.” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN



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Do You Want to Die Like Patty and Greg?

Do You Want to Die Like Patty and Greg?

June 14, 2022

Big Ideas:

  1. A Breakdown Leads to a Breakthrough [3:20] – Many times the most painful moments in our lives lead to the best moments because it gives us an opportunity to find ourselves. The darkest points in our lives turn into the brightest when we grow spiritually through them. We are able to gain so much perspective through the struggles and challenges we face if we look at them through the proper lens. No one knows this better than Patty and Greg Howe. Greg was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2016 and doctors told him he only had a couple of weeks or a few months at most to live. This led to him searching for alternative treatments because his doctors told him they had nothing available that could help him. He found himself feeling really low when confronted with this intense adversity – but after a year of living after his initial diagnosis, he found his true strength and the beauty of life through overcoming his fear. Still alive and well, it is such an inspiration to hear him speak from a place of hope and joy and the positive shift he experienced through such difficult circumstances.
  1. When Patty Found Doulagivers [11:37] – Patty found Doulagivers in March 2020, during the height of the covid lockdowns. She had been a hospice volunteer since her father passed away in 2014, and she became curious about the concept of end-of-life doulas. She heard about this concept in another program she had taken and started to do more research on the subject, and she stumbled upon Doulagivers. She decided to call in to learn more about the program and we spoke on the phone, and she made her decision to enroll in our Certified End of Life Doula program after I asked her if she had the calling to do this sacred work. After starting the course and becoming part of our Doulagivers community, Patty discovered that she needed open-heart surgery after exerting herself during a hike and realizing something was wrong. She says the love and support she received from the other doulas in the semester empowered her with the confidence to know she was going to make a recovery from her surgery and be the best doula possible. Then, a little over two months after her surgery, she was given a terminal liver diagnosis. After her initial shock, Patty looked to Greg as her source of strength and inspiration and eventually looked at her diagnosis as a gift because she was finally able to understand what her husband had gone through with his own diagnosis. They processed things together and decided that they would continue to move forward in the face of this new challenge. The awareness of their own end of life gave them the push they needed to "repair” aspects of their lives they didn’t even realize they needed to repair.
  1. Greg Howe Became a Doulagiver After Witnessing the Rise in Patty [20:05] – Greg watched as Patty grew into a more confident woman aware of her own power, owning what was hers and finding her calling in life. It made him decide to also take the Doulagivers training and become a Certified End of Life Doula. Patty describes herself as being “encapsulated” by her purpose since walking fearlessly down this path in her life. Greg would sit in the background of Patty’s classes and on Thanksgiving in 2020, we held a special Zoom call for everyone who was at home and separated from their families that year. Another one of our Doulagivers told a story on that call about how her stepfather had stepped in and cared for her mother at the end of life with no formal training and how an incredibly strong and loving bond grew between them through that experience. The story moved Greg so much that he signed up for the course immediately after hearing it. He wasn’t sure how it would go at first because he has never been comfortable with people’s emotions, but he says it has been the most incredible journey for him and his personal growth. It has completely changed him in the most beautiful way.
  1. Time Magazine Article [30:28] – Last year, Patty and Greg were both featured in a Time Magazine article about End-of-Life Doulas titled, “Death Doulas used to Be Rare. The COVID-19 Pandemic Changed That.” One morning Patty was sitting on her bed and received a phone call about wanting to be interviewed by the author of the article. She says there was magic instantly in the conversation they had and that she and Greg were so grateful for the opportunity to shine light on this movement for such a large platform. Upon completing her other interviews with Doulagivers graduates and speaking to me, the author of this article told me that it was the most exciting article she had ever written. It was such an honor to hear that. 
  1. Patty and Greg’s End of Life Resort [35:58] – Patty and Greg had an idea to use their property in Alaska to create a special place for people at end of life to experience one of the most beautiful places on earth. They collaborated with doctors and social workers to refine the dream for this end-of-life resort. They realized that Alaska is a special place for everyone, and they heard that some people were renting hotel rooms so that they could spend their last time on earth in Alaska and die there. So, they thought, why not create such a better experience for those people that was more personable and curated to them for that purpose? To allow them to spend their final moments surrounded and mesmerized by the stunning scenery and nature of the Alaskan wilderness. They gravitated towards this vision and have committed to making it a reality. The ability for someone at end of life to be able to be in such a wonderful place and have access to two guides who know the feeling of confronting that situation firsthand is such a beautiful thing. Patty and Greg are an inspiration and shining example of what can happen when you find the courage to follow your calling and trust in that journey.


Memorable Quotes:

  1. “We have been dying for thousands of years. Only in the last 100 years have we completely removed death from the natural fold of life and turned it into something we feel the need to fear. We have to bring back the sacredness of end of life.” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN
  1. “When you align with that higher frequency of purpose and calling – when you step forward to answer that – the universe shows up for you. So, I always say, ‘When you show up for the universe, the universe will show up for you.’” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN


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Your Legacy Captured in Moments and Timelines

Your Legacy Captured in Moments and Timelines

June 6, 2022

Big Ideas:

1.Bringing Back the Awareness of Death Being a Natural Part of Life. [2:55] – l – there were two things I’ve learned over the course of my career as a Hospice and Oncology nurse that made it go 80 to 90% better for people: The first thing is planning ahead with Advanced Directives and thinking about what you do or don’t want at the end of life. The second thing is knowing the basic skills for how to care for somebody at the end of life in order to facilitate a good death.


2. The Five P’s [5:00] – Darren is a veteran and there is an acronym they used in the armed forces that is referred to as “The Five P’s”. It stands for Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. This can equally be applied to the end of life and death care. If you don’t plan for it, nine out of ten times the end of life will not go well. If you do plan for it, people know where they stand, and the end of life can be a pleasant and enlightening experience. If we don’t plan, everything falls on our family to make decisions and very rarely do families agree on big decisions about medical care at this stressful time. When we empower people to choose their wishes before the end of life, it makes us subconsciously want to live our lives each day the way we really want to. To live with as much joy each day as we possibly can.


3.The Inspiration Behind Darren’s Work [10:30] – Darren has worked in Health and Social care providing technology services for over 25 years. He had no work-relation to end of life at the time or with end-user applications like the ones he develops now. Two and a half years ago, Darren’s wife and sister-in-law became the primary caregivers for his mother-in-law who was suffering from aggressive Lewy body dementia. After his mother-in-law’s funeral, he and his family were going through photo albums and discovered that they did not know many of the people in the photos and now that his mother-in-law had passed, that part of their family history was effectively lost. This led to Darren thinking of a way to incorporate technology to help individuals keep track of their family legacy. He created a “memory box” to use in hospice and palliative care for this purpose. Doulagivers are also trained in conducting life reviews with their patients for the purpose of legacy creation and retention as the end of life nears. It is an incredibly important, powerful, and healing exercise for them.


4.How the After Cloud App Works [16:05] – Darren’s After Cloud app has been utilized in real world environments such as hospice to enable patients to create content based on four main focal points: Letters, Images, Videos, and Audio. Patients can use these all at once to create really valuable and meaningful moments and record things they want to share and celebrate into the future. A lot of people within Hospice wanted to see a chronological account of their life stories in addition to the content they had created. Darren got to work on making a timeline feature that anyone can use to create a legacy and have a highlight reel of their life to look back on forever. At Doulagivers, we talk about the importance of using techniques that allow the end-of-life patient to take control. This app is a beautiful example of this because it lets these patients choose the highlights of their life they want to leave behind for others to see. You also don’t have to be at the end of life to use this app!


5.Memorials [21:11] – When end of life shows up in people’s lives, it is often a crisis. This extends to when we hold remembrances for people – there tends to be a scrambling to put together a service and memorial and the rush of it all leads to things not going well in this regard either. When things are moving very quickly, and everyone is experiencing the trauma of loss, it becomes a difficult and unfortunate situation for the loved ones to navigate. There is usually a lot of complicated grief and bereavement being felt after a person dies and then you are tasking the grieving individuals to plan a memorial they weren’t prepared for. Not allowing ourselves to stop and be present and process our loss so that we can begin to heal from it leads to a prolonged state of grief as well. Having a memorial plan in place before the time comes can make a huge difference to all of this. Personally, I would like to have a say in my own memorial, and I believe most other people would also. Utilizing technology, such as Darren’s After Cloud app, can assist people with planning their own memorial and make that plan accessible to their loved ones after they’re gone.


Resources: FREE Level 1 End of Life Doula Training. REGISTER HERE:


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Annoucing Doulagivers Level 1 End of Life Doula Training Veterans Edition

Annoucing Doulagivers Level 1 End of Life Doula Training Veterans Edition

June 2, 2022

Big Ideas:

1.We Have to Start Being Guided by Our Hearts [6:32] – We have to break the cycle of living from a place that is guided by our ego. A place that leads to pointing fingers and creates hate and division and that comes from a place of fear, shame, and guilt. We must instead allow our heart guidance system to show us the way forward so that we can change our world for the better. We have really lost our way in nearly every category imaginable – the way we treat each other, the way we treat our planet, the way we treat animals. If we live only through our egos, we will continue down a path of destruction. So, remember that we all have a choice to allow our heart guidance to show us the way and we should allow it to do just that.

2.Sobering Veteran Statistics [10:56] – Our veterans have always been an area of so much pain and suffering. They are asked to stand up for their country – to fight for and protect the freedoms that the rest of us enjoy. We applaud them and celebrate them for their heroism during their active duty – but what happens on the other side of their service? They usually fall through the cracks after they have experienced life-changing trauma from combat situations. In my experience, veterans have been some of the most challenging end of life patients to work with because they have such complicated grief and past experiences that heavily burden them. The depths of trauma they go through are almost impossible to reach. Only another veteran knows what that feels like, so Doulagivers is excited to announce that we have partnered with a veteran expert to create a Veteran’s Edition of our world-renowned Doulagivers 90-Minute Level 1 End of Life Doula Live Webinar Training. This is so important and needed when we look at veteran statistics – I want to share some eye-opening facts with you. There are more than 19 million veterans currently living in the United States – approximately 1,800 veterans die each day. There are over 9 million veterans over the age of 65 in the United States. The more specific eldercare and end of life care services we can put in place for this population, the better. Vietnam veterans make up the largest share of elder veterans. An average of 20 veterans die by suicide each and every day. What can we do right now to show up for an expand support for our veterans?

3.Bringing in a Veteran Expert [21:05] – Dr. Qwynn Galloway-Salazar is a U.S. Army veteran and the spouse of a combat veteran. She is the founder of In Their Honor LLC and her life’s work is dedicating her end-of-life education to veterans their families. She is an end-of-life doula and educator. She has collaborated with us at Doulagivers to bring in veteran-specific knowledge to our Level 1 End of Life Doula Training to properly support these veterans in one of their greatest times of need. We met each other through a mutual colleague, Dr. Karen Wyatt, and her End-of-Life University Podcast. I saw her interview on the podcast and I fell in love with her passion for caring for veterans at end of life. I reached out to her shortly after and it led us to working together to create the Doulagivers Level 1 End of Life Doula Training Veteran’s Edition.

4.Dedication to Clinton Wyatt [24:20] – Dr. Karen Wyatt is a dear friend of mine and her End-of-Life University Podcast is a beautiful platform where she shares so much great information. Because of that podcast, I was able to connect with Dr. Qwynn Galloway-Salazar and we were able to create this wonderful offering to veterans that I believe is going to have a big impact on their lives. I am eternally grateful to Dr. Wyatt for making this connection possible and all the work she does - particularly with helping to educate people on how to deal with death by suicide. She shares the beautiful story of her father, Clinton Wyatt, who was a WWII veteran. He was a wonderful soul, and he had a miraculous journey and faced many struggles as a veteran. Dr. Qwynn Galloway-Salazar and I would like to dedicate the Doulagivers Level 1 End of Life Doula Training Veteran’s Edition in his memory and honor.

5. FREE Doulagivers Level 1 End of Life Doula Training Veteran’s Edition [26:37] – This training is always free, so please share it with anybody you’d like that you think can benefit from it! It will be a 90-Minute live virtual workshop on Zoom held Wednesday, July 27th at 7pm ET.


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xo Suzanne

In stressful times, focus on what you CAN control

In stressful times, focus on what you CAN control

May 23, 2022

Big Ideas:

  1. Food and Stress [4:30] – Stress can come in many forms and one of them is environmental stressors. In our world today, most of our food sources are empty calories with a lack of nutrients and an abundance of chemicals and contaminants. This leads to an increase in inflammation and stress in the body which over time can develop into disease. Elyse says that she personally pays more attention to the ingredients listed on the foods she consumes rather than on the nutrient panel. She emphasizes understanding what she is putting into her body and as a rule of thumb she believes if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. Many chronic illnesses can not only be stopped but reversed through proper diet and exercise and lifestyle changes.


  1. DNA Expression [9:12] – Within 90 days you can change your gene expression by changing what you put into your body because our cells replicate themselves. This process occurs every 90 days - so if you eat well, exercise, and take care of your body, that replication can take place in a healthy way. If you eat poorly and neglect your health, it will take place in an unhealthy way. You have the power to make that choice and it will make you feel well and give you a sense of clear mindedness. When Elyse was thirteen years old, she was overweight and struggling to feel good regularly. It was around this time that she developed a curiosity for the way certain foods made her feel and she began her journey towards a healthier lifestyle. She realized she had chronic inflammation and decided to make a change. She removed processed foods from her diet and lost 50 pounds as a result.



  1. Pay Attention to How You Feel [13:25] – Elyse started her path to a healthier lifestyle as a weight loss journey, but she ended up sticking to it not because of how she looked, but because of how she felt. She felt good in her body and realized that there was a level of confidence exuding from her because of it. She identified that these results came from the nourishment she was giving her body. Elyse wants people to know that it’s not only what you’re eating, but also the environment you’re eating the food in that matters. There are a lot of different elements that impact our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with food. Our society as a whole has a dysfunctional relationship with food and most of what is available in our stores lacks nutrition and is high in calories, sugar, unhealthy fats, and disease-causing additives. Elyse wants people to feel empowered to make good choices for themselves and take a more critical approach to how they shop and view their dietary choices.


  1. The Impact of Stress on the Nervous System [15:40] – Our bodies are bombarded with stress on so many levels daily that we essentially live in survival mode. When we are constantly in a state of fight or flight, it pushes the gas pedal down on our adrenal glands and pumps out cortisol. A certain level of stress is healthy to have, but when we reach a sustained level of distress it becomes unhealthy. We have to be intentional with how much outside stress we allow into our lives. It is empowering to realize that we can choose to regulate some of the things that cause us undue stress in our lives. If they go unchecked, it can wreak havoc on us and it permeates all aspects of our lives – the quality of our sleep, our relationships, and even the food we choose to eat. When we are highly stressed, we tend to make poor choices which compound into an unhealthy lifestyle. To live a healthy life, we have to reject unnecessary stressors in our lives - and we are the only one who can do that. You are the only person in the world who can truly heal yourself.


  1. Tools for a Healthier Life [21:45] – Think of yourself as an instrument that needs to be tuned regularly. One of the best tools that you can start implementing today to achieve this is starting to work on understanding what you need. It is a daily practice that takes time to get efficient at. Identify the feelings you have – we know when we feel off, stressed, angry, frustrated, elated, and excited. The way to identify your needs is by leaning into those feelings – think of them as a check engine light. When you’re feeling something negative, pay attention to it and ask yourself what you need to fix it. Turn down the outside noise and look inward for the answer to that question. Only you know what your needs are. Then take the next step forward to fulfill that need. The second tool you can use is behavioral changes. Take a big thing you want to work on and break it down into the smallest next step you can take right now and begin forming tiny habits that move you toward your goals. Be experimental and try new things to find what serves you most. While pursuing change, always be gentle and kind to yourself the same way you would be with another person. Never forget – you are the caretaker of you!

Memorable Quotes:

  1. “This is probably one of the most stressful times in history. The stress that we’re under emotionally just from being part of the world right now impacts our bodies with inflammation. We can’t control what’s going on outside, but we can control what we do for ourselves.” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN


  1. “You really are the only person in the world who can truly heal yourself.” – Elyse Wagner

Resources: Get the FREE Level 1 End of Life Doula Training: HERE

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Learn More about Elyse Wagner Here


How do we reduce the fear of death? - by learning the truth about it. The Art of Doulagiving

How do we reduce the fear of death? - by learning the truth about it. The Art of Doulagiving

May 17, 2022

How do we reduce the fear of death? - by learning the truth about it. In this episode of Ask a Death Doula, I have the great pleasure of sharing the Art of Doulagiving Graduate series with Certified Doulagiver Teri-Portugal Gooden.

Teri’s first experience of death was with her beloved Gaga. When alone in the room as Gaga with transition, she sat up and exclaimed with excitement to Teri “Not to be afraid because its beautiful!!!!! And showered Teri with red kisses all over her face just moments before she took her last breath.


In this episode, you will hear:

  1. When Teri first knew she had the calling to be a Doulagiver [3:06] – Teri had always worked and volunteered with terminally ill patients and even wrote a paper about it in the fourth grade. She always felt strongly about holding space for elderly people. She was profoundly moved by sitting with them and hearing their stories and their conversations at the end of life. Teri had a gift of feeling comfortable in this space and it empowered her to become a Doulagiver. We always encourage anybody who has this innate ability to step forward and answer their calling because so many people out in the world need you and it is such a special way to put love back into the world.


  1. The importance of talking honestly with children and bringing back the sacredness surrounding death [5:25] – At Doulagivers, we believe one of the best ways to bring back the awareness of death and its sacredness into the natural fold of life is to be honest with children. There are age-appropriate ways to engage with children in the truthfulness of end of life rather than shielding them from that inevitability. One of the greatest gifts you can give children is not removing death from their understanding of life but teach them that it is a natural part of the human life cycle instead.



  1. Gaga and the gift of community taking care of community [6:36] – Teri’s grandmother that she refers to as “Gaga” came to the United States from Ukraine when she was a young girl. Teri’s mother had her when she was young and was divorced when Teri was only two years old – this led Teri to spend a lot of time with her grandmother as she was growing up and they would bond over stories from her grandmother’s journey to America. Part of these stories were about the importance of community – there was a network of immigrant women making sure their entire community was taken care of during that period of her grandmother’s life. They made sure people were fed, provided medical care, birth care, and death care, as well as about anything else that was needed. Not all of these people were Ukrainian either – it was a mixture of people who had immigrated from every corner of the world in search of a better life. The wisdom and the lessons of how giving back is so important from listening to those stories had a huge impact on Teri at a young age and shaped her desire to work with those at end of life.


  1. Death teaches you that we are connected to something so much greater [11:44] – It is almost indescribable the peace, the serenity, the connection to something so much greater than what we normally think of when working with those at the end of life. It solidifies that there is an omnipresence of us all… and it is love. It’s dropping the physical, human part of us, and having that spiritual part that is so full of light and shine that exists forever. When you feel that and know that - you know the person is no longer with you, but it brings incredible peace to us when losing a loved one. We want people to know that death can be beautiful, that it is sacred, and that it is natural – and teach people the practical skills to be prepared for and to handle end of life well because we know we are all going to get there someday.



  1. How becoming a Doulagiver has led Teri to live a “purposeful life” [18:08] – Teri had worked in a demanding business for thirty years and felt depleted when she decided to close that chapter and take a new direction in life. She wanted to be of service and to live a purpose-filled life. Teri says that once she became a Doulagiver she felt “completely home.” It allows her empathic nature to be fully present, celebrated, and offered to those who need it most. Being a Doulagiver has shown her so much that she says has improved her quality and understanding of life by letting her live in complete authenticity and freedom to be herself. When you’re able to be yourself and not try to fit into other things, it really makes life so much better, and it is a beautiful thing. It allows you to shine out in the world and share your gifts with others.

Memorable Quotes:

  1. There are age-appropriate ways to engage with children in the truthfulness of end of life rather than shielding them from that inevitability. One of the greatest gifts you can give children is not removing death from their understanding of life but to teach them that it is a natural part of the human life cycle instead.” - Suzanne B. O’Brien RN


  1. It is almost indescribable the peace, the serenity, the connection to something so much greater than what we normally think of when working with those at the end of life. It solidifies that there is an omnipresence of us all… and it is love. We want people to know that death can be beautiful, that it is sacred, and that it is natural – and teach people the practical skills to be prepared for and to handle end of life well because we know we are all going to get there someday.”- Suzanne B. O’Brien RN

Take the FREE End of Life Doula Training HERE:


Please rate, review and share this podcast and free training to help us reduce the fear of dying for people all over the world. xoxoxo Suzanne



Why We Experience Such Complicated Grief Today

Why We Experience Such Complicated Grief Today

May 10, 2022

In this episode of "Ask a Death Doula", I talk with Reid Peterson the founder of The Grief Refuge App. We have an insightful conversation about grief, what is is, how it works and what you can do to thrive through the grief journey.

2. Why Grief is so Complicated

[8:49] – Grief is painful, and people want to avoid pain of all types – emotional pain is particularly complicated to deal with. Many people associate feeling this kind of pain as not normal and then crave a sense of normalcy in response. This can lead to premature dismissal of their grief. It leads to a lack of respect in our society for the grieving process – it can feel taboo or stigmatized. Even though pain is uncomfortable, it is a signal we receive to let us know something is wrong and we need to acknowledge it. We don’t want to be in pain, but we have to recognize it and understand where it is coming from so that we can address it properly. Ignoring it is only masking it and giving it an opportunity to grow and transmute into something even more severe. Understanding your grief as a natural and expected response to loss allows you to sit with it, honor it, and identify the tools you have to eventually transform it and heal from it. Unless we’re willing and courageous enough to sit with our pain and befriend it, we’re never going to have the opportunity to transform it and move past it.

3. Bringing Back Rituals to End of Life for Healthy Grieving [14:22] – Incorporating rituals back into the processes of end of life and grieving and memorials can be extremely comforting. This can provide insight into steps for the next phases of life for those who are grieving. Rituals that are practiced with loved ones are even more empowering through the shared connection and experience. When families take time at the end of life when they have lost a loved one and really use that window of opportunity to be present and share stories with each other – it has an incredibly positive impact on the way their grief and bereavement journey goes from that point forward. There is no need to rush in the wake of a significant loss – realize that we will never have this moment again. Take it in, allow yourself to slow down, and process what happened and how you are feeling. Bringing back ritual is so important for this.

4. “Stuck” Grief [21:15] – “Stuck” grief is when someone feels hopeless, lonely or isolated, and feeling lost while going through the grieving process. It is defined by people who feel as though they aren’t making progress in their healing – they start to feel that it will never improve. One of the most common things that happen at the end of life is people will wait for you to leave the bedside before they have their actual end of life. Often times, they will be unresponsive and in a sleeping coma for days and the brief instance that someone leaves them for a few minutes they pass away - and people come back and are usually riddled with guilt that they weren’t there for the passing of their loved one. Just having the knowledge that this is normal can unburden people who have been carrying around guilt for decades of their life. Knowledge and education are two of the greatest tools we have to help us deal with the natural process of grieving and how we can move forward and heal from it.

5. The Grief Refuge [24:50] – The Grief Refuge is a hybrid organization that offers live services such as retreats and support groups for those who are grieving. Support groups are now online and focus on unique aspects of grief experiences. There are groups for different types of loss and specific experiences. There are also one-on-one “grief companioning” services offered. It is a heart-centered, and soul-centered approach to helping those dealing with the difficulties of coping with grief or going through grief overwhelm. The Grief Refuge also has an app platform for those seeking validation and comfort along their grief journey and so they can reflect and receive guidance.

Memorable Quotes:

1. “Grief is a natural and expected response to losing something we care about.” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN

2. “Right now, we are living in a society that treats death as optional. We have to really change our thinking here and bring death back into the natural fold of life because that denial creates a crisis when the time comes.” – Suzanne B. O’Brien


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Visit The Grief Refuge Here: The Grief Refuge


5 Tips on How to Care for Someone Who is Dying

5 Tips on How to Care for Someone Who is Dying

May 2, 2022
  1. Be Present [2:47] – The magic is in the present moment. Be fully present - not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. Most of us don’t live in the present moment. Focus on what’s in front of you – what do you see, what do you hear, what do you feel in your heart? If you are fully present, you will get everything you need to know how to be of service to a person at end of life. People may say they’re fine, but if you really observe in the moment, you will know the truth. Trust your “knowing.” If your mind is all over the place, you can’t lean into your intuition properly. Ground your energy and quiet your mind before entering the room with a patient so you can be settled and truly present in the moment for that person.


  1. Meet the Person "Where They Are" Emotionally [6:35] – Many people are in crisis by the time they reach out for end-of-life support services. End of life has three phases – the Shock Phase, the Stabilization Phase, and the Transition Phase. It’s in the Shock Phase – the initial period following someone getting a terminal diagnosis that everything is so intense. There could be many emotions present and there usually are. Anger, withdrawal, sometimes even humor as a defensive mechanism comes into the fold - and denial is also a really big one. So, when I say, “meet people where they are emotionally” it has to be perfect to where they are and how they’re presenting – this is not about our agenda, it’s about them. If people are angry, sad, or all over the place – just meet people where they are at that moment and work from that point forward. There is that initial space where everyone is in shock – let them go on their journey and give them time to process it. It’s really important for us to show up and be of service to people in this moment and of course through the whole journey.



  1. Don't Judge [8:54] – This is a pillar of the Doulagivers practice. Don’t judge what’s happening. This is not only for the person at end of life, but also for their “nucleus” – the people in their inner circle who are deeply affected by what is going on. Everyone is having their own experience during end of life, and everyone might be having a different experience. There is no judgment at the end of life – this is a universal law I have learned from working with my patients over the decades. End of life is hard – we don’t have full context on anybody’s life and it’s important to remember that everyone is doing the best they can with where they are on their journey. Things can get really intense at the end of life, so always remove judgment from the situation.


  1. Be of Service [10:57] – Set your intention to be of service. You don’t have to figure it all out or have an agenda. Simply ask yourself, “how may I show up to be of the highest service – to this family, to this work, to the world, and to myself?” When you go in, just be present and have the open heart to be of service in the whole dynamic and see what comes into you. Don’t push – flow. Be of service and bear witness to this person’s experience – you’re not here to fix it or direct and take over. You’re here to be present with no judgment, with an open heart, and to be of the highest service – that is the best medicine we can give one another. When you show up to be of the highest service, it allows for this energetic place that’s really organic for the end of life where beautiful things can be processed, accepted, brought to light, and people can find peace. If you do this, you’ll be in a great position to help somebody.



  1. Practice Self-Care [12:48] – This is for you. When caring for those at end of life, caregivers can put themselves last and not want to take time off. You have to plan on the long haul – we don’t know how much time we have at the end of life. We want it to be as positive an experience as possible, and it can be. Part of that is making sure that the caregiver is getting enough sleep, nutrition, and having some down time so that they can be fully present for their loved one (or client as a Doulagiver). People are in fight or flight mode at this time – we have to prioritize our health. Having a few hours off is best - but doing as little as taking ten minutes to walk in nature or get sun on your face can do a world of good. An hour or two of respite is very important – ask someone to cover a shift for you so that you can take a nap or just have a break. Also make sure you are getting adequate water and nutrition intake. I understand that during this time people may not want to eat or have time to prepare full meals, but this is critically important for the health and balance of your body. In order to take care of others, we must take care of ourselves. If you allow yourself to burnout, you won’t be able to provide optimal care.

Memorable Quotes:

  1. “If you are fully present, you will get everything you need to know to be of service to a person at the end of life.” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN


  1. “Simply ask yourself, ‘how may I show up to be of the highest service – to this family, to this work, to the world, and to myself?’” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN

Resources: Please share these free community resources with a friend and help us change the world together. xoxoxo Suzanne

FREE LIVE LEVEL 1 End of Life Doula Training - Register Here: Register Here

JOIN OUR FREE LIFE CAFE Every Wednesday at 12pm ET – Register Here

Please Rate & Review this Podcast! xoxoxo Suzanne

Self Care for Doulas- and Everyone!

Self Care for Doulas- and Everyone!

April 26, 2022

When you practice self-care, you are caring for everyone else. The better version of you – the healthier, the happier, the more vibrant you are – the better you will care in all areas of your life.

It’s so important. In this episode of Ask a Death Doula, I will share with you the vital importance of daily self care in all four bodies of energy. The time to implement self care is not when you feel stressed out, It is key to incorporate it ahead of time. Understanding what you need to nourish your beautiful being is easier than you think- and will make ALL the difference in the world in how you enjoy life every single day.

In this episode, you will learn:

  1. The Four Bodies of Energy [1:50] – You are composed of four bodies of energy within you. The Physical Body, The Mental Body (your analytical mind), The Emotional Body (feelings, traumas, etc.), and The Spiritual Body. These bodies of energy exist in equal parts. Working with those at the end of life has taught me everything about how to live and there is a spiritual body of energy that is an inner peace, inner knowing, higher consciousness that exists in each and every one of us – the problem is we don’t connect to it. We don’t practice strengthening it. But if you do recognize it and nurture it, your life will become much more joyful and in flow. It’s not a religion, but a spiritual connection to a higher frequency and energetic consciousness. It’s important to understand the four bodies of energies when talking about self-care because each one of those bodies of energy needs to be nourished individually and they have different needs. Being “in balance” is meeting the needs of all four bodies of energy.


  1. Balancing Stress Hormones [7:45] – We are living in a world where stress is dominates our lives. We are constantly bombarded by stress – through the television, social media, world events – it’s very intense. The energy, anger, and fear will affect us in many ways. Stress hormones kick out and cause inflammation in our bodies – they can be produced by your environment, your mental state, and by what you eat. Stress hormones were designed to protect us in an acute, immediate crisis, such as a car accident, to help us respond quickly and hopefully avoid danger or bodily harm in a situation. In our world today, we have a baseline of stress hormones circulating in our bodies constantly because we’re subjected to so much stress on so many levels. This can manifest itself in fatigue, aches and pains, and other symptoms that are detrimental to our well-being. But there’s good news – just being aware of this and having the ability to return yourself to homeostasis for even short periods of time is critical for your health. You can do this with simple habits: start your day with intention-setting and mindfulness through meditation and practicing gratitude. Walking in nature is another one of my favorite ways to ground myself. Deep breathing is also very effective. Use these to help mitigate all the stress you are under.


  1. Being Proactive [10:35] – The key to all of this is not to wait until you are experiencing negative symptoms to start your self-care practices. We have to try to prioritize these at all times. Life can get busy or in the way, but make sure to be aware of your stress levels before they climb to unmanageable levels.



  1. Daily Practice [11:24] – Focus on small things you can incorporate in your daily routine to keep homeostasis within your four bodies of energy so that you can have a buffer and hopefully never get to a place where stress overwhelms you and makes you feel sick. It will also allow your daily life to be so much more joyful. Think about making sure you hydrate yourself first thing in the morning and think of ways to make sure you’re getting greens and other nutritionally dense food sources into your diet. Making small changes and incorporating little things into your day will have really great benefits to your health and happiness over time. Developing good habits has a compounding ripple effect across all areas of your life. Start with something small that you can manage right now, and you will feel inspired to take that next step in the right direction. Having moments where you can sit in silence and connect to your spiritual self is incredibly important to do on a daily basis. Connect with yourself, with nature, with animals, with sending love to all people – these small things that feed your bodies of energy can and will make a huge difference in your life.


  1. The Four Body System [13:55] – There are two periods of the day that are wonderful times to expand your mind. The first is when you’re waking up in the morning. Before you jump out of bed, take a minute to slow down. Take this beautiful space from sleep to starting the day to practice self-care. We’re a little dreamy still and before you get going for the day, check in with yourself and take a few deep breaths. The other optimal time to do this is at night before bed when you’re winding down from the day. I recommend all Doulagivers practice “The Four Body System” – a practice that takes only 5 to 10 minutes each day. It is a way of connecting to your four bodies of energy and over time it will become second nature to you. Processing and releasing will put you into a place of flow – it will bring magic and miracles into your life. It is a beautiful place to be, and it is open to each and every one of us.


Physical Body – How am I feeling? What’s happening? Do I have any aches and pains anywhere? Is my body tired? Am I feeling dehydrated? Ask your body what it needs.


Mental Body – Am I stressed? Am I worried? Am I anxious? Really check in with yourself. You are the caretaker of you. Figure out how you can take time for yourself and organize your thoughts.


Emotional Body – How is my heart? I think all of our hearts are heavy at the moment watching and seeing what is going on in the world and knowing so many others are suffering. So, ask yourself how your heart is and what you need to heal emotionally – forgiveness is your greatest tool for this. Is there something you can be forgiven for or give forgiveness to someone else for?


Spiritual Body – Do I feel connected? Have I been committed to my practices? Strengthen your spiritual body by using gratitude, meditating for a few minutes, or connecting to the earth and mother nature.  


Memorable Quotes:

  1. “Working with those at the end of life has taught me everything about how to live and there is a spiritual body of energy that is an inner peace, inner knowing, and higher consciousness that exists in each and every one of us – the problem is we don’t connect to it. We don’t practice strengthening it. But if you do recognize it and nurture it, your life will become much more joyful and in flow.” – Suzanne B. O’Brien RN



 Together- we are changing the world! xoxoxo Suzanne ❤️😘



Resources: Get the FREE Death Doula Guide HERE

Please Rate & Review this Podcast!!

xoxoxo Suzanne 


National Death Doula Day April 20th!!

National Death Doula Day April 20th!!

April 18, 2022

Today is National Death Doula Day and we are celebrating with a very special podcast and free family caregiver training!


Death used to be revered as a sacred part of our life’s journey. It is only within the last 100 years that we've absolutely removed the end of life from being a natural component of our lives. 


This removal of end of life has, in my opinion, caused death to become 1,000 times more difficult for both patients and family members. 


End of life can be a positive and sacred experience. It is with the right education, kindness, and support that we can have the end of life go well for every person - everywhere in the world.


Due to current reimbursement structures, mainstream medical is only able to supply a certain amount of time and support for patients and families at the end of life - but end of life is 24/7 and the need for more support in this area of care is extremely great. 


“The minute we put a dollar amount and a time limit on dying, we're doing something wrong.” - Suzanne B. O’Brien RN 


Doulagivers/Death Doulas are non-medical holistic practitioners that care for somebody who is dying physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The Doulagiver/Death Doula is filling in the gaps in mainstream medical and can support not only the patient and family but the Hospice Care Team as well. It is a win/win/win addition to end of life care! 


In this episode of Ask a Death Doula, we will cover:


  1. The History of the Death Doula Movement

  2. Why We Need Doulagivers/Death Doulas

  3. How Hospice is Working with Doulagivers/Death Doulas to Provide the Best End of Life Experiences for Patients and Families.

  4. What Death Doula Day is and How You Can Celebrate It


Listen to the Full Podcast HERE:


What is National Death Doula Day? The day is set aside for Death Doulas to engage with their communities by bringing awareness to the profession and benefits for patients and families. An End-of-Life Doula is a non-medical person trained to care for someone holistically (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) at the end of life. End of Life Doulas are also known around the world as: Doulagivers, End of Life Coaches, Soul Midwives, Transition Guides, Death Coaches, Death Doulas, Doula to the Dying, Death Midwives, Thanadoula, and End of Life Guides.

National Death Doula Day is a day where we recognize the positive impact these individuals can have during the end-of-life process. 


This day was created to raise awareness about the profession of Death Doulas and how they can benefit patients and families at the end of life. Death Doulas provide the additional support that families need in order to feel comfortable with taking care of their dying loved one at home. They are non-medical professionals that provide holistic support for the dying and their loved ones before, during, and after death. Trained in the various end of life stages, a Doulagiver is able to assist the family with understanding the natural processes of death while providing comfort and support through these processes. This is the day where all Death Doulas can rise together and be a voice for social change for end of life care - ensuring everyone has the most positive passing possible.

How should this day be celebrated or observed? On Death Doula Day we encourage the conversation about the profession of Death Doulas. This can be done anywhere, and in any way you feel comfortable. Have fun with it! 


Post/Tweet/Market/Share, have a discussion panel, show a documentary, give a training, host a Death Café – anything to do with end of life.


Here are two articles you can share to your social media to help spread awareness!






End of life is a human experience -  not a medical one. With the right education, kindness, and support, end of life can be the sacred, positive experience it was meant to be. 


In Love & Service, 

Suzanne B. O’Brien RN 


P.S. The FREE Doulagivers Level 1 End of Life Doula LIVE Webinar Training is TONIGHT at 7pm ET in honor of National Death Doula Day and Doulagivers World Training Day! 


We invite you and anyone you would like to share this event with to attend and we cannot wait to see you there! 



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