Changing How We Talk About Death

I remember sitting with my grandmother at the end of her life. She was in a hospice house and the nurses and volunteers brought her a menu of food selections. It was around 8am breakfast, but the nurse urged her to order the ice cream. My grandmother asked, “Ice cream? For breakfast?” The nurse replied, “You should eat all the ice cream you want!” 

My grandmother’s eyes got big and a smile stretched across her face. We ordered every flavor they had in the kitchen.  

Our healthcare system in the United States is far from perfect. There are so many people who don’t always have access to hospice care in the way they would like. But one thing I do know, the nurses who care for us in our final days are a special breed. It’s a special calling to be fulfilled by helping people and their families pass on from this world. Yet while some of us would find it depressing, others find it inspiring. It turns out, you can learn a lot about living from the dying. (See, I told you they were special.) 

The In-Between

One of these special nurses is Hadley Vlahos, a registered nurse devoted to hospice care. Hadley (or Nurse Hadley as she is known online) recently wrote a New York Times best-selling book The In-Between: Unforgettable Encounters During Life’s Final Moments and she joined us on this week’s podcast. She writes about the life lessons she gained from her patients and the phenomenon of “the in-between.” These are the days where it seems people have one foot here on Earth, and the other somewhere else. 

Things have happen as my loved ones have passed on that I couldn’t explained. We talk to Hadley about some of her stories in the book, our own experiences, and her efforts to change the way we die with her non-profit, Hadley House. She hopes to have a house that allows patients, caregivers, and families to stay together and celebrate life in their final days. 

We hope this podcast uplifts you – let us know what you think in the comments.