…Practical advice on finding a connection with who you are, what you're about and what a good death means to you as you grow inwardly and age outwardly.
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Hi and thank you for visiting The New Art of Dying. I want to tell you why I choose to write about dying. I’m asked this question pretty regularly. Here’s why:

Looking over my experiences with loved ones dying, I realized there are powerful last things you remember.

When my own father died, for example, I know he wouldn’t have wanted me and my brothers to feel the way we did about his death — the overwhelming guilt, questioning, and ruminations. We never did sit with him and talk about his wishes and I don’t think he gave them much thought either. He had a boilerplate advance medical directive that included the words ‘no extraordinary measures.’ But what does extraordinary measures mean and what did it mean to him? Alzheimer’s made it too late to have a conversation.

It’s not easy to think about death, whether that of a loved one or ourselves. We instinctively avoid it. That’s why I wanted to write about it. I want to help others know how to talk about it and how to make dying what you want.

What I want to talk about is: How do we know what to talk about?

I feel passionate about this. For me, I want to make sure I can tell you what I’ve learned, read, & experienced that I believe you need to know. And for you, to take this in and make incredibly important decisions that are all about you, not your illness, or treatment, or what someone else wants or guesses what you want. I used my background in sociology, research, and analysis to take a hard look at the personal and societal changes with dying and write about how to customize your wishes for dying care. I’m part of the sandwich generation having taken care of parents and loved ones, being there as they faced death and letting go, while supporting three children through college and finding themselves.

I continue to discover who I am and how I want to live my life to its end. This is ongoing and very personal stuff. I think the hardest thing is to be able to look inside and consider what you’re about and what makes you live the life you do and how all that affects choices of end-of-life care.

All I have is words on a page and it’s hard to find the right ones. I’m going to try to discuss dying frankly and respectfully. I hope you feel comfortable reading the articles and free to give comments and ask questions. Clearly, I’m passionate and intense. I believe dying shouldn’t be simply about emotions. The changes in medicine are huge, postponing dying and prolonging living. An important part of educating people on this topic is being there to help you see what’s out there in this medical terrain of dying and describe it simply and clearly so you can figure out how you wish to die.

I’ve worked at the Congressional Budget Office, the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission (ProPAC), and established my own consulting firm, Health Policy Research, offering services to health
organizations like The Institute of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences and GAO. I received a B.A in Sociology from Tulane University and a master’s degree in Health Services Administration from The George Washington University. I am 63 years old, old to some and young to others.

I am also the creator of the mHealth app, My Health Care Wishes©, designed to revolutionize information sharing during a medical crisis so that your advance care documents and information can be instantly conveyed and delivered.

You can find out more about the app by visiting:

http:/www.myhealthcarewishes.com

I’m currently working with a fabrication workshop and animation studio to create a series of short commercials, Randy and Sandy’s Have the Talk©, selling the idea of a conversation and a plan about dying by making us laugh, coming in 2014 to YouTube.