Ask a Death Doula Podcast: Do You Want to Die Like Patty and Greg?

 Released: 06/15/2022

 Guest: Patty and Greg Howe

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Ask a Death Doula Podcast: Do You Want to Die Like Patty and Greg?

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 Released: 06/15/2022

 Guest: Patty and Greg Howe

#deathdoula, #deathdoulas, #deathpositive, #endoflife, #endoflifedoula, and #hospice

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Speaker 1 (00:02):

Hi everyone. And welcome to this episode of ASCA DEO doula. Today, we have an incredible episode and we have some very special guests that are very dear to my heart. So I am gonna obviously let them share their beautiful journey and what they’re doing now, but to give it a little bit of an introduction, this is Patty and Greg, how they are wonderful dear friends and amazing human beings and beings. Um, in this world, they have a story that will open your heart. If it is not open as full as it can be, which many of us have that work to do? Wait till you hear their story and their journey and what they’re doing now to help others in this world. So I’m gonna share with, I’m gonna ask them some questions and let them share, um, a bit about their background and, um, let them take it away.

Speaker 1 (00:54):

But I just wanna thank you both for being here. And I know that you’re up very early, so this is Patty and Greg. How thank you so much for being here. You guys, yes. We wanna start off and I wanna know this too. I mean, I have some information on it, but I really, you have such a beautiful love story. It’s actually one of the, um, most <affirmative> most impactful of my personal friends that I’ve known. Like, just hearing your love, seeing your love for one another. And it’s so inspiring. So I have to ask, how did you both meet? Let’s start with that.

Speaker 2 (01:32):

We met in 1987, I had come to Naples, Florida after being away from the family home for about 16 years mm-hmm <affirmative> and life had kind of broke me and I was needing a fresh start. So I came home to where my parents had retired in Naples, Florida. I grew up in upstate New York. And so I went home and that was interesting being the wayward son that had come home sort of. And so I had gotten a job and I had come from working on boats most of my life, um, my adult life, but just working on boats. And so I had gotten a job working on a dive boat in Naples, Florida. And one day I show up for work and there’s a new captain and it’s Greg and I walk in and I see him with his Vanet sunglasses on which I’d always loved Vanet sunglasses.

Speaker 2 (02:25):

And I had a Gardenia in my hair and that’s the first time that we met. Yeah. And that was the beginning of our 35 year old romance. And so he had come to Florida from Louisiana on a sailboat that he had built to care for his parents to be around his parents at this time in life. I’m around my parents in this time of life. Yeah. And then we meet and fall in love and then we end up raising one another’s children. And then we end up taking care of both of our parents. So in families of six and seven children, Greg and I were the ones that showed up to take care of our parents. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and it has really kept our love alive.

Speaker 1 (03:08):

Um, yeah. Yes. And it teaches you so much. Right. So, you know, this is so poetic. So it just like, I’m picturing the whole thing with the Gardenia and the glasses and the sailing and, and it’s just like, you know, it’s out of movies, but it’s really, it’s really real. So I wanna go back Patty for a minute. When you said, you know, that there was a breakdown, um, in your life’s journey. And I want people to really understand that when there’s a breakdown, there’s a breakthrough on the back end, there’s that opportunity. And I don’t care who you are in this world, what you have, what you look like, what we see from the outside, everyone has their struggles and their traumas. And the, I feel like personally the brave and the courage to really just say this isn’t working and putting it out there and kind of like shaking it up and that’s scary, right. Cuz our world doesn’t really like that or accept that, um, is really again, that belief and courage where that shining breakthrough can happen. So I love breakdowns because that means we’re breaking through or we have that opportunity. So I don’t want people to feel bad when they’re, they’re finding themselves in that space.

Speaker 2 (04:26):

Yeah. Well, it’s funny that you say that, cuz just last week I had the epiphany, it’s always remembering some of the darker things that, you know, have occurred in my life. And then the next phrase that came through was turning points.

Speaker 1 (04:38):

Yes.

Speaker 2 (04:38):

Yes. So those, those things that I had such a hard time at looking at, once you go back and you remember, and you look at them, they were the turning points in your life and you are gonna fall down again and have another turning point, but sure. They’re major. And so when you reflect and go back through your story, those are the times that you had the most growth in your life.

Speaker 1 (05:02):

You know, I, I, I love that. I, I very much always will share that the direct correlation to your spiritual growth is the intensity of the pain or the, the lesson that you learned. And when we can look back with that spiritual wisdom that people at the end of life get, everything was a gift, everything. And I know that’s very hard sometimes to conceptualize or to understand, especially when we’re going through it. But when they do get that higher frequency perspective, that higher part of them and look back at their life’s journey, they can thread it all together. And the things that were the most painful were the greatest opportunities for soul growth. So they really are gifts that look in very unusual packaging, but, but they are. So I love that you shared that. Cause I just want to give that inspiration to our listeners to know that, you know, when we’re lost it’s because we’re trying to find that, that place.

Speaker 1 (06:00):

And it’s really, and here’s just a really quick thing that it’s not outside it’s inside. Yeah. So we’re all taught to look out on the outside and we’ll never find it there. No wonder we’re spinning in wheels. So I really love that now. So you all have this beautiful love story. You’re taking care of your parents, which again, I feel that everything we go through brought you to this moment. So having those experiences doing it together, and now let’s talk about how Patty you and I met first, but what was going on and Greg, I wanna speak with you a bit about your personal journey when you had a diagnosis that really changed your, both of your pathways. So if you could both speak to that and then Patty, I think you reached out to doula givers and we started our, our journey and relationship there.

Speaker 3 (06:49):

So I was diagnosed with, um, uh, leukemia, um, back in 2016 mm-hmm <affirmative> and um, when they did the chromosome test, they realized that, um, I had a mutation that is not common, um, for chronic lymphoma leukemia. And typically, um, you don’t live past the year and because of when I was first diagnosed, um, so when they did the chromosome test, they told me that, um, they told both Patty and I, that I had a few weeks, maybe a couple of months. And um, the caveat was we don’t have a treatment or a cure, which now I see was a complete blessing because I wasn’t searching for that. Um,

Speaker 1 (07:41):

Right.

Speaker 3 (07:42):

That pharmaceutical cure. Yeah. And so I kind of gravitated, uh, towards problem solving, which is, uh, you know, my background is the problem solver. So, you know, got a hold of a, a dear friend of ours. Uh, we met years ago in The Bahamas, who’s a cancer researcher. He put me in contact with some people in Germany that were doing heat therapy for spontaneous remission. And so we started doing home heat therapy because we couldn’t afford to travel to Germany at the time mm-hmm <affirmative> and insurance doesn’t pay for any alternative treatments. You know, they will pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for radiation therapy chemotherapy, but the holistic treatments you get zero. Yeah. Um, also started a journey with a dear friend. Who’s an acupuncturist here mm-hmm <affirmative> and all of these were very subtle shifts and it took probably a year before I realized that I didn’t have to follow their prognosis. Yeah. For that first year, I really thought they knew what they were talking about and I was dying and I felt like I was dying. Yeah. And you know, I was having all of those moments of standing thinking, wow, will I ever see the flowers come up this spring? Mm.

Speaker 3 (09:04):

I was given this news, um, in January, well, December end of Jan, end of December of 2016. And you know, all those moments where you just think will I, will I see this event again? Mm-hmm <affirmative> and it’s, um, it’s kind of takes you all the way down. And I love that. We started out talking about the breaking down mm-hmm <affirmative> as the turning points. And it’s just, I realize now that every injury, every illness, every, you know, adversarial moment in life, that when we come through these, these are where our strengths come from. This is where the beauty comes from the gold.

Speaker 1 (09:50):

Yeah. And

Speaker 3 (09:51):

That was what happened after about a year, I realized I’m, I’m not gonna die of this. I might die of something, but doesn’t have to be this. Yeah. And I started trail running with our dogs. Nice. And just as many mornings as I could getting up four o’clock in the morning to go run before I had to go to work and try to work a half a day and come home. But little by little, I just got stronger. And then I found some botanicals of, uh, using medicinal mushrooms that are known to shrink tumors. And, um, it’s so we, now we drink a, a pot of our medicinal mushroom brew every day. <laugh>

Speaker 1 (10:37):

Coffee, but I’m gonna join you in that. Oh wow. Wonderful.

Speaker 3 (10:42):

I’m uh, so we’re still here, you know, it’s uh, of

Speaker 1 (10:44):

Course you are. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3 (10:46):

Uh, we are not done on this journey obviously. So, um, yeah. Look, Patty

Speaker 1 (10:53):

Speaks. Yeah. And, and then I wanna talk to Patty, cuz this is, I, I think then, you know, when I had the honor of meeting you and we’re gonna talk about just all of that, but it’s so interesting because from my background being a hospice nurse, an oncology nurse, um, and obviously we talk all the time about, you know, in the last a hundred years that death, we completely removed it a anything to do with it, any, anything so that when it shows up, which we know by the way is a hundred percent guaranteed. So the irony is there in that is that people seem to only be given one option and that’s not. Okay. So we’re gonna also talk about the empowerment in making your own decisions here, um, which I love, but Patty let’s share about if we can, how you then found doula givers and what that was like. Cause I remember your beautiful face, always on the zoom calls and what that was like, how you found it. I think, you know, it was during the pandemic, right. And also the beautiful community that you are now family with. So can we share a bit about that? What that journey was like, finding that

Speaker 2 (12:03):

Space. So that was in March of 2020. Um,

Speaker 1 (12:06):

There you go.

Speaker 2 (12:07):

COVID the sheltering in place was just starting, excuse me. In February. My primary care physician had told me about a contemplative care course. Um, mm-hmm <affirmative> and it from Andrew wheels Institute. So I took that it was free, was taught by two Buddhist monks. Yep. And I loved their energy and they were talking about the threshold. And when you go into a room and to be a blank slate, because you don’t know what is going to happen there, just the meditations to give them, to bring them calm and peace. So after that I said to Greg, I wanna investigate doula. I had been a hospice volunteer since my dad died in 2014. That’s beautiful. Um, the chaplain had mentioned the word doula, but I didn’t know anything about it. So after doing that course, I’d heard it in that course. And I went online and I found Nita and I found you.

Speaker 2 (13:01):

And so then Nita was a little bit cheaper than you, but I was drawn to you. And so Greg’s there, but just give her a call, just give her a call and have her sell, sell you on what she’s selling <laugh>. And so I dunno, just like my life. I don’t know how I had your number, but I called a number and you told me, you go, I was just, I go, it’s you and you go, I was just walking by the phone and I picked up the phone. So it was cosmic. And what I remembered from that day was you said something about if I felt it was a calling mm-hmm <affirmative> and that just was all over me. And it was like, that’s what this is. Yes. Calling. I didn’t even know that as being a hospice volunteer. Yeah. This calling. And so I started the course, um, Greg was traveling some still, um, going up to Seward.

Speaker 2 (13:55):

Um, so I was home alone. I was doing the course and finding community, but I didn’t have a voice within that community yet. I was just there. I was listening cuz I remembered myself wanting to participate, but not having the confidence to speak. And so that started to change. Yes it, and I found this great group of friends within you and this sunflower spring of 2020 doula group mm-hmm <affirmative> so then I’m going to go on a hike and I’m gonna be with Greg now that he’s running to running for life. I’m going to, you know, I’m a part of that too. Yeah. But he’s more aggressive than I am. So I said, Hey, let’s do a big mountain hike. We do a 13 mountain hike. I come home and my heart, I don’t know whether I have COVID and three weeks later we find out it’s my heart.

Speaker 2 (14:44):

I need open heart surgery. I have this beautiful doula group. Mm-hmm <affirmative> to support me through this heart surgery. I have to travel. I have to take numerous COVID tests. They’re sending me painted rocks with sunflowers and crystals and masks and cards and just so much love in my life. Yes. I come home from my heart and I’m a warrior. I’m gonna make it. And I’m gonna be a doula. Like nobody’s ever seen a doula before. Then I get two months and a day after my heart open heart surgery, I get a terminal liver diagnosis.

Speaker 1 (15:17):

Mm.

Speaker 2 (15:18):

So I’m like, oh my goodness. Um, what is this all about? You know? And so I start to die for about a month. And um, because I think that’s what the world’s asking me to do. My God, they just replaced my heart. And now they’re telling me this, they must want me to die. And, and so I was dealing with that and Greg’s attitude about his own. I didn’t really understand how he processed his leukemia because I didn’t have cancer yet. And so I realize now we didn’t really process that together. I don’t think you really can understand what somebody’s going through. So this has kind of been a gift for me to get this. And in fact, when I did kind of leave the shock phase and go into the stabilization phase, it’s like, oh my God, this is a gift to Greg. I go, cuz how could we understand one another if it wasn’t here. So that’s where we start out with realizing this is our work to do.

Speaker 1 (16:18):

Yes.

Speaker 2 (16:19):

And, and so we’re trying to understand it as we hold our hands and walk forward into the light or whatever you wanna call it on the planet. But then the energy of the doula community coming into my life and dropping names like Gabo mat dropping other ideas about finding closure and of life made us investigate and get curious. And yes, start repairing yes things in our world that we didn’t even know were broken until we started looking back at it because we were told we had to leave. And that’s where the most beautiful part of this work has happened.

Speaker 1 (17:02):

Yes. It’s a life class. It’s a life journey. So I just wanna highlight when I hear you, pat, first of all, it’s just, it makes perfect sense to me that you would walk again in alignment with Greg in his journey because of the love that you share. So again, I can’t know what you’re going through because I’m not exactly there. Let me get there. It’s just so beautiful. Now the doula support cradling you in this bubble of love to be able to walk through that path because you know, I, I watched the whole thing. I, I, it was just beautiful and it watching the messages and knowing when you were traveling and when you were out of surgery and the light and the love so incredible. And then for you both to repair, I love that you said that we’re because we’re given that timestamp or we see that there is an end.

Speaker 1 (17:53):

Now we’re aware of that. We’re looking at the journey and Ooh, there’s work to do over here in repair because that’s part of it and how rich your life becomes when you start to then weave those things and put closure and, and release them and put light. So your example to all of us about how to live, cuz we don’t have to wait for, we shouldn’t wait for a terminal diagnosis. We need to listen. And, and when you shared with it, you’re you woke up into consciousness. I looked at things that I didn’t know needed repair because I’m looking through a different lens and that’s what we wanna share with people. Let’s put the different lens on, let’s put the heart lens on. So we can really look at this with no judgment and with love and with togetherness because you shared all of that, which is so beautiful. I also wanna highlight when you said that when you first started the group that you were quiet and you were, and sometimes your camera wasn’t on. And sometimes you’re in that beautiful, hot tub with the background and, and sometimes you’d message and say, you know, I’m listening. I just don’t feel comfortable yet sharing. I want to. And I was like, this is the place for your voice. And look at you now. It’s like just that flower that opens up into the most beauty and that’s just our journey. So, um, it’s just,

Speaker 2 (19:11):

Well, and thank you for this because when Greg, um, I had to ha do a zoom conference with my cardiac doctor and I wanted Greg here. So I scheduled it for when he was in town mm-hmm <affirmative> and he, um, so he wanted to talk about it, about my condition. And then, um, he said, okay, I’m gonna wait until April. Uh, we have a cardiologist coming up in April and I go, really? I go, you’re gonna make me wait till April. And you’ve asked me to stop doing everything that I love. I I’m, I have shortness of breath while I’m standing still and gave him Alyth three of symptoms. And I, he looked at me and I could see a shift on the screen. And he said, let me get the radiologist to look at that scan again. And he came back to me and said, you need open heart surgery. Yeah. And so I advocated for myself that day. Yeah. I didn’t need Greg. Yes. And that’s where this journey has like been bringing me to and I’m realizing my own power. Yes. And Greg seeing that in me made him wanna take the doula course because he saw me rise to something that has just really encapsulated me. And it’s my calling

Speaker 1 (20:24):

<laugh> abso and you know, I, and, and let’s stay here for a minute because everyone has that light within them. But what we tend to do is, is keep it very dim or, and we let others, you know, put the, the, uh, clouds and that shade on us. And when we get out of our own way and your light, just like, we all have that. So watching that is so beautiful. Um, and I think like understanding advocacy, not just for yourself, but then also in that doula role for other people that we see time and time again, especially today in our world that don’t have a voice around end of life that are so fearful and paralyzed that there’s an elder woman with an elder man caring a loan for them. This is not working. So I, I think all of that comes to the forefront, um, which is really beautiful. Can we switch for a minute on Greg then now taking the doula course? And how did that come about? Because that leads us to the magic that you’re doing today, the

Speaker 3 (21:22):

Energy too. Okay. <laugh> um, so it was, you know, I was kind of always in the background as Patty was doing her training and I loved all of the meetings and it was your Thanksgiving, um, meeting of, uh, 2020. And it was, um, Terry Gibbon, Terry Gibbons was telling a story.

Speaker 1 (21:49):

Yep.

Speaker 3 (21:50):

I remember about her. Um, stepfather coming in and her mother had made some choices in life that had resulted in where she was at. And, uh, and the story was just so beautiful how this man stepped in and without any training was her doula and her advocate. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and the love that grew between her and, and this man through the course of his caring for her mother. And it moved me. Um, I, I was cooking breakfast, um, you know, for us, it was an early morning meeting and I stopped and went over, fired up a computer. And I signed up for the course, right then I said, you know, this is something that’s just, it’s calling me and my volunteering. And before that had been with the local mountain rescue team, you know, it was very adventure, you know, um, get out there and, and do it, which is kind of where I’ve always been.

Speaker 3 (22:50):

And this was a real shift for me. Um, I’ve not been one that’s really been comfortable with people’s emotions. So this is a change for me. And, uh, but it has just been the most incredible journey. And it has completely changed me. I have stopped doing all of the ship lifting that I used to do and, um, really shifted our focus a hundred percent to helping people on this journey and realizing that our own journey was the most incredible teaching. That’s it mind with your teaching? It, it’s such a gift that we have to share this with people

Speaker 1 (23:35):

That’s right.

Speaker 3 (23:36):

And, you know, it’s, there’s an energy around this movement that is so tangible to me. And I watch, you know, I, I have since gone through the hospice training, I’m now also a hospice volunteer because it does allow me to move into the bedside and get a little more experience with people as we move into our own, um, journey with this work and interesting, um, little story, you know, segueing back to our earlier conversation about these choices in the medical is one of my patients is a former coworker and he and I were diagnosed the same year. Um, I wasn’t given any medical choices. He was, and he took all of ’em and you know, here we are, you know, five years later, almost six years later, and I’m companioning him to the edge and I’m still in the world. And the irony, the expedition of this is just it’s tangible in that. Yes. I think that we really need to examine the choices because the medical profession really tries to frighten us yeah. Into making their decisions, our decisions. And it’s, I think it’s really important that we take this opportunity to be our own advocates, to say, like, Patty did that. I can’t do a transplant. You know, I won’t be tethered to the medical community and she knew her limits. And I don’t know that I know anyone else that has had that strength to stand up to all of the medical

Speaker 1 (25:29):

Either. I’m gonna say for somebody who didn’t have a strong voice, like that is really smacked down amazing Patty.

Speaker 3 (25:38):

And it was the turning point of her being able to express herself and fully.

Speaker 2 (25:45):

And the energy work that you brought in with, was it Henry step from be Henry

Speaker 1 (25:51):

P step? Yes.

Speaker 2 (25:52):

And in the lesson, and it was, you were pretty, you were pretty, um, mild. And then we moved into the energetics. Here you go. That one really changed me. And so then when we found an energy worker in our life, that’s it. And he would say, cuz I’m like, I’ve got kids do something, you know, he’s like change the energy, walk back, talk backwards. And I know he didn’t mean that, but then lo and behold, we decide to walk away from the industrial and say, we don’t wanna die with the stress of working in the world. How can we live in the world and not, yes. And so then the U shows me, we have a year we can move into, it’s like a temple. Yeah. Now we can have both of our, and so these things are happening and the season is unfolding. And will we see if there’s a potential for this idea that we have, but it was,

Speaker 1 (26:47):

Yes, there is. Oh, oh, hello. <laugh> everyone. We’re gonna get to that because this is like, you know, we’re building up to like everyone that I talk about you and what you’re doing is like, I wanna go there. I wanna do that. I wanna do. Okay. So let, so let’s anticipation. Everybody. Let me, let me just stop for a minute because we have to, we have to stop on this one, one direction, one choice only, um, that we’re being given right now. So here’s the thing. Let’s, let’s bring it in and let’s, let’s bring in this energy. We have been dying for thousands of years. Okay. We know how the body knows how to do this. The body is so smart. It also knows how to repair itself. If given the right circumstance environment only the last hundred years have we completely removed end of life.

Speaker 1 (27:32):

And Greg, I love how you said, you know, the fear of, of what’s put in front of us from the medical system and the pressure. It’s not just only the medical, it’s your families. It’s, it’s just society. It’s this whole perfect storm guys. Let’s bring back the truth and sacredness about end of life. And then we wouldn’t be afraid at all. We would take it for everything that it teaches us, just like what we’re sharing now. And we would make a choice. I’m not tell telling people what to choose, but we would gather information, which we’re gonna talk about now and make a choice that is in perfect alignment with what I want. And that may be absolutely to just let nature take its course and to live and to be that shining bright light and magic happens with that. So one of the things I wanna share and Patty I’d love that.

Speaker 1 (28:17):

And, and again, it’s, so the irony is there of such a strong cause I know what it’s like to stand up to medical people. It’s such a strong, um, moment to say, no, thank you. <laugh> no, thank you for the transplant, um, is that people need to get their information. They need to, first of all, the first thing I want people to do is breathe, right? When you get a critical illness or something of that nature, terminal diagnosis, just breathe. It’s not an emergency. So getting grounded is really important. Cuz if you go off on that fear train, that’s running outta control. All of a sudden, you don’t know where you end up. And once you start tinkering and doing stuff, it’s very hard to undo it. So gather your information, find out about the truth about end of life, that it’s a natural process.

Speaker 1 (29:07):

Know what you can do to live fully in this moment today and every single day, that’s what we all should be doing and then make the right choice for you. Don’t listen to anyone else make, go into your heart and is this the right choice for me? So that’s incredibly important. Now you two, having this gift of being able to share from that unique space of having a terminal diagnosis, both of you is something that is priceless because as much as I can and much as I’ve worked with people and I’m so honored and privileged to be in this space, no one can ever know what that is truly like unless they’re there. So the fact that you’ve taken something that many people would not be able to look at and to use moving forward to help others and are doing that is just spectacular beyond words. So I honor you and I thank you so very much.

Speaker 1 (30:04):

So having people find their information to make subjective decisions is critically important. So we wanna make sure that people know that there are doulas that can help do this, that you can do this to just breathe into it. There’s so much support. And the first thing to do is to bring back this conversation into the world again, because right now death, oh my gosh, you know, everything around it is is dysfunctional. Well, we’re cha we’re helping to change that. So now we’re gonna talk about your vision and what you are doing now. Um, may I start please with time magazine and your featured article in there? And if we can like highlight for a minute, what a moment, what a beautiful, beautiful moment of awareness. Can you share how that came about and you, and so many of the doula giver graduates were in there, but what a, what an incredible moment of, you know, the universe picking this up and expanding it.

Speaker 2 (30:58):

That was pretty fun. I,

Speaker 1 (31:00):

Yeah, I bet

Speaker 2 (31:00):

I was sitting right here on the bed and uh, Liz Leer called me and she said, I just got a call from time magazine and they wanna do an interview about me being a doula and landing Wyoming. And she goes, and by the end of the conversation, I said, you gotta meet Patty and Greg, how and see what they’re doing. Yep. She goes, I gave them your number. I hope you don’t mind. And so then I get an email right after that call and it’s from, um, Melissa Chan. Yeah. And she was just delightful. And so then she called us, I think the next day. And we had a, she gave us 43 minutes of her time and we had a long conversation and she was lovely. And she said, she felt better for having just talked to us. Well, it’s like, that was the beginning of a thing, you know? And it, and so yes. I mean, I’m so grateful to Liz for putting that out there because it was the beginning. Yeah. You know, of realizing that this was a story for more people than just us

Speaker 1 (32:07):

Absolutely.

Speaker 3 (32:09):

Being given a platform. Yeah. To get this message out there. Yeah. Because, you know, as we move through the world, we meet so many people that the fear of death is just all around them. Yeah. And you know, both of us have, I, don’t the ease of just talking about hard things with people, we actually kind of enjoy it and, you know, so seat mates on airplanes having to suddenly get the death doula discussion and uh, for their three hour journey to Anchorage. Yeah. <laugh> and it’s, uh, yeah. Um, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to talk freely about death and dying, to be able to look at

Speaker 1 (32:56):

That’s right. You know,

Speaker 3 (32:57):

The circle of our lives and

Speaker 2 (33:00):

The people that are, are calling us, um, that are in traumatic, um, situations in their life that don’t even really know what we’re doing. And all of a sudden we’re getting calls and they’re sharing their suffering. Yes. And like, wow, Greg, what is this? You know, we have tools now to help them yeah. Look to in, you know, to help, to

Speaker 3 (33:25):

Help. And there was a beautiful film we watched a few weeks ago called grief Walker. And one of the things in that, that I just loved was where he said, we cannot truly love anything completely until we can see its death. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And because that is the completion of the circle and that just spoke to me so loudly.

Speaker 1 (33:47):

Yeah. Yeah, it does. And it, and it makes you appreciate it every single day. And every moment, because when you know that this will not be the way it is, you look at everything. So very different. So I love that when we deny death or the fear of death is in our life, we’re denying our life because of everything. So I love that full circle. So, so very important. And I just wanna share something from my perspective, what I’ve learned from those at the end of life and in my journey, when you align with that higher frequency of purpose and calling, when you step forward to do that, 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. And people will say, well, synchronicity and these magical things are happening.

Speaker 1 (34:33):

And it it’s, it’s, it’s exactly what it’s supposed to do. Just like this article, just like this woman. And here’s the thing, if, and I know this might be a stretch for some people, but what is the gift? There are gifts within the pandemic. We know there are, we know that so much needs to change and it, and it shed light, but when there was a whole, and, and I understand it, the whole world basically denying that end of life exists, cuz we treat it like optional when the pandemic hit and how it hit. None of us can deny that death will be a part of our journey and that it will show up whenever it shows up. And so within that, there was so much more awareness in that time magazine, actually that title was the pandemic, uh, death doulas used to be rare, that pandemic changed that.

Speaker 1 (35:21):

And so I just wanna highlight that this woman, um, who wrote the article was interviewing all you <inaudible> right. Michelle Chan. And then she said, your name kept coming up and doula givers that I had to speak to you. So I spoke with her and at the end she said, this is the most exciting article I’ve ever written. Wow. I mean, from somebody from time magazine who’s so, so the, the ripple effect that you all have with your messaging and with your sharing, your story changes the world with that world changing. We wanna talk about what you are doing, because I will tell you something that I’m probably gonna have to start a list of people that want to get into your beautiful end of life resort. So, so to speak, let’s call it. Can you share with us what you’re visioning, what you’re doing and what that looks like?

Speaker 1 (36:14):

Because I, I want to put this out there. I feel like people are going to say, and this is gonna be a term that’s used doing it, the Patty and Greg way, doctor <laugh>, I’m gonna choose. How do you wanna do, you know, a, do you wanna do the treatment? Do you wanna do a, a hybrid or do you wanna do the pattying Greg? I wanna do the pattying. I I honestly, because it’s so it’s so very important for people to know they have choices, but also to have role models to look up to who can guide them on that path. So can you share with our listeners of what you are doing right now, your vision what’s happening?

Speaker 3 (36:52):

Well, this idea started, oh, probably, you know, it’s, it’s been percolating, it’s hard to find the starting point.

Speaker 1 (36:59):

Yep.

Speaker 3 (37:00):

You know, part of it was that, you know, those moments of where I was standing wondering will I see the flowers come up in spring and just the poignancy of all of these moments. And of course I’m standing in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life, which is our home, you know, on the beach here in Southeast Alaska. And then as we started trying to figure out how are we gonna do this without working a full-time job? I wasn’t at retirement age at the time. And so I still had to be in the working world or find an income somehow. Um, so we started, um, putting our houses up for vacation rentals and um, first the one house and the clients who came through were just so beautiful. And of course, as you said, you know, you show up for the universe, universe goes up for you.

Speaker 3 (37:57):

And the universe sent us some of the most amazing people, you know, doctors, people who are doing, um, some of the most wonderful social work. And they really helped us shape this vision. You know, we had a, a doctor from Texas, just beautiful couple he and his wife. And they hiked with us nearly every day. Um, you know, a lot of people come to Alaska to go fishing. Yep. Then came up here to heal themselves. And so we spent a lot of time in the woods with them and when it came time for them to leave, he said, I don’t wanna leave. And I said, you know what? I don’t want you to leave either Jim. And he goes, no, he grabbed me. And he goes, I don’t ever wanna leave here. <laugh> and it, it made me realize that this isn’t just special for us.

Speaker 3 (38:47):

It’s special for a lot of people. Oh yeah. And then we heard stories here in town of people coming to Alaska to rent a hotel room so that they could die here in Alaska. And we know these hotels, I put clients in the hotels. They’re not bad hotels, but it’s not much different than a hospital room. And neither of those are places that I want to die. You know, my mother chose to die at home. She chose the time she chose who she would be with my father died in a hospital setting. Um, just not quite six months apart mm-hmm <affirmative> and it was so remarkable, the difference in the experience for them and for the family. Yeah. And it was, you know, it shaped this path. But what we finally came to bringing

Speaker 2 (39:46):

Dad

Speaker 3 (39:46):

Here is, you know, bringing Patty’s dad up here to Alaska with us, having him sitting, looking out the window, watching whales, breaching, bubble feeding, um, the oters, you know, you watch Eagles,

Speaker 2 (40:03):

Eagles, binoculars, and just mesmerized by nature. And we thought that we brought him to Alaska, but now that I’m understanding energy work, this man from the Catskills, maybe he chose where he wanted to spend the last two years of his life. Yeah. Yeah. And we all found Alaska together. Me and dad and Greg and Greg told me the other day, when we do get this up and running, it will be inspired by John GLI, my father. And I was so glad to hear that, but that was mostly how, why I think that we are leaning this way was the joy that we saw in my dad for his last years. And we weren’t even doulas or hospice then. Yeah. And we did call 9 1, 1. He did die in the hospital. Yeah. So we have so many ways of doing it wrong. We did a lot of things, right. Yeah. But now with this course, with this information yeah.

Speaker 3 (40:57):

Yes. And that’s why we feel it’s so critical because you know, we do know that, you know, as we sit with people at end of life, um, but then those moments come where they fall or if something drastically changes and we panic and you know, in your course, you do a wonderful job of helping to diffuse that panic to say, okay, we can take this down and everybody can stay right here. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, we look back and reflect on those moments when we didn’t, when we acted on the panic. And so that’s a big part of what we’re trying to do here. Yeah. Let’s see, too, is originally we played around with, you know, uh, an end of life retreat and a retreat just feels to both of us, like a place where you have to do reflection, you need to do work and it’s, and there’s work to be done, but we gravitated to resort because we want this to just be and yummy and just

Speaker 1 (42:02):

That’s it

Speaker 3 (42:03):

To be this experience of, I wanna choose where I want to die.

Speaker 1 (42:08):

Yeah. And

Speaker 3 (42:09):

I have this vision of other people joining this movement where we can have destination death

Speaker 1 (42:15):

That’s right. And,

Speaker 3 (42:17):

You know, to find other vacation rental hosts that will be willing to host people for end of life. We have been gifted with a couple of wonderful doctor friends. We have a next door neighbor who is a registered nurse and all of ’em when we told them of this idea, they said, we’re there for you. We are your support team. So we now have physicians and nurses, very let team, and we have a wonderful energy worker. Um, we are, uh, we also have a, a, a physical therapist who is a massage therapist. And so as we add to our little death resort, um, to have a healing center for, um, energy treatments for massage therapy, not just for the patients, but for their family,

Speaker 1 (43:05):

Of course, this,

Speaker 3 (43:07):

This is a hard time for change and stress. So there’s a lot of ways to mitigate that, that we think we can aid in,

Speaker 2 (43:15):

But these are our ideas, of course, and these are the community coming around to wanting to support it. We all know it’s the work in progress. We’re still like in the construction mode. And, and, and so the energy is coming in as we move forward, right. As we’re, we’re not getting in our own way.

Speaker 1 (43:34):

Exactly. And that’s all you have to do right. Is really not getting in your own way because the universe is going to start to just bring you all of those elements when you vision it. And when it’s from that higher frequency of love, which it is, you know, it’s already done it. I can see it. It’s already done because I know also when I think of it, there’s such a brightness. And then when I share the end of life resort, oh, where is that? I wanna do that. I love, love, love. And so let the nature part of it. When we talk about that, we’re all connected that we’re all connected to animals, to nature, to elements to each other. When you bring in that spectacular landscape to allow somebody to sit in the middle of that. Yeah. You know, it’s, it, doesn’t, in my opinion, probably get better than that.

Speaker 1 (44:23):

And then when you have two guides such as yourselves who actually can understand what somebody is feeling and help them to just be, just be, and then you do have options for healing work and things. If, if they want, there’s no pushing here, there’s flowing. I mean, it’s so gorgeous. And then I love Greg that you shared that other places in other destinations, because some people might want this or might want that mountain. But I think to start, um, that model is so needed. You know, we talk about doula houses all the time. This is some this isn’t and I just love end of life resort. It has so much, um, just great energy around that who doesn’t wanna go to resort, even if it’s at the end of life. This sounds great. So you might have to start a waiting list.

Speaker 2 (45:15):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, and you know, it’s being on the sea and being people that haven’t had a lot of money in our life. And so we’re very sympathetic with people that, for funerals and for all of that, of

Speaker 1 (45:30):

Course,

Speaker 2 (45:31):

And Greg had, you know, contacted a couple of people that we know that have vessels here and are willing to work with us for full body burial at sea. Yeah. And, um, which puts, you know, which takes such financial stress, you know, away from the family at a stressful time. Anyway, you

Speaker 1 (45:47):

Have to, it’s ridiculous. Really what dying is so expensive, like the whole way through. And also it’s just not going well. So

Speaker 2 (45:55):

I saying the other day, though, he goes, you know, we kind of toif fire planet with our life. Right. And now we do the big cremation or the embalming, and we’re still ING after we’re gone. Yeah. Why, you know, because

Speaker 1 (46:08):

We’re, because we’re not talking about this. And so we, when we don’t talk about it, we don’t know all these options. So for me, like, it was so interesting that you say that because, you know, knowing about, you know, obviously natural burials, but acclimation coming about, and also donating your body like to really good research institutions that I can still be, first of all, I’m like, Ooh, I can, I can still be in New York city and then I can, and I can

Speaker 2 (46:31):

<laugh>

Speaker 1 (46:32):

And I can, but also coming from understanding that if I donate and I’m not sure what I’m doing quite yet, but I know there’s really good choices, then I could contribute to somebody learning a skill, like a doctor on a body so that they can though go help thousands of people moving forward. Just the, the knowing that you have an impact on this planet after you actually die. Just that awareness is really powerful. Like I have a choice. Like I, I could be that tree out there or be growing with that tree. Yes, please. So I love that so much. I have to tell you that you both have been such a gift in my life, in my world and in this movement. Thank you. And I can’t thank you enough on behalf of everyone and the future. I wanna thank you so much for what you’ve done and how you’ve showed up. Really beautiful. Thank you. If people wanna get in touch with you, how can they learn more about you or get in touch with you?

Speaker 3 (47:31):

So we have, uh, Facebook business page for Alpine transitions. End of life resort. Mm-hmm <affirmative> your email would be better though. And, um, or they could email us direct. Okay. Greg dot, how jab fi J a B i.net mm-hmm <affirmative>. And, um, yeah, we’d love to talk about, uh, how we can help shape their vision of how absolutely to experience.

Speaker 1 (47:59):

I feel like for both of you, I feel like they’re going to be people that are very interested in doing the same thing that you’re doing. They might have a place somewhere, and it would be wonderful to connect us all because that’s how we change the world. So thank you for showing up. Thank you for your hearts. I love you both so much. And thank you for doing this interview.

Speaker 3 (48:17):

Love you too. Thank you. Thank you, Suzanne. Bye. Thank

Speaker 1 (48:20):

You. Thank you everyone. This was ASCA death doula. I am your host, Susan. O’Brien. Thank you so very much. And I will see you in the next episode.

 

About this episode...

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

Resources: https://time.com/6128469/death-doulas-covid-19-pandemic/  

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