What is Conversing with Death?

I founded Conversing with Death (CD) back in 2013 and after fifteen years of experience with hospice patients, personal experiences of loss and years of specialized training. This existential exploration is educational in nature and process-oriented to help us wrestle with inevitable human decline: aging, illness, and dying.

What makes Conversing with Death Different from, say, grief groups?

CD attends to our own maintained sense of dying. There are many groups that help others grieve; good ones at that. But CD nudges us to look at ourselves, first and foremost.

Sounds intense.

It can be, but then again death is no light topic. This is why I have people take the Conversing with Death Intro Workshop, which introduces one to a unique method of talking about death-and-dying.

What is the overall goal of thinking about death?

CD seems to have much practical value. When done carefully, death reflection can nudge us to live with more intentionality, gratitude, kindness, and contentment. Not always, but perhaps more than if we hold to the idea of dying as something that will occur for us way down the road. 

How does Conversing with Death do this?

CD uses imaginal and simulated exercises to bring out a felt sense experience. We also do lots of sharing and processing. As far as "how-tos" go, we don't put much weight on trying to find solutions, simply because you can't fix death. When we are in our last days or weeks from transitioning, solutions seem to have less of a role. Only by being with our experiences do we stand a better chance at carving out a more peaceful transitioning.

Who is eligible for this training?

I designed CD primarily for mental and healthcare professionals, clergy, and other care-giving professionals.

Why professionals?

While I use CD to complement therapy sessions, I have prioritized equipping caregiving professionals from various disciplines for a couple of reasons. Fist, they are at the forefront of the struggle helping others prepare for these changes. And to do this professionals should do their own work first. If avoided, the professional is likely to inhibit the client or patient's own process. Second, working with death can take a toll. It is imperative for caregiving professionals to manage death awareness without losing balance.

Is there anyone who the groups is not for?

Yes. I would not recommend this group with anyone who has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, certain anxiety disorders, recent trauma, a personality disorder, or who has a suicidal history. I strongly encourage potential attendees to check in with their mental health professional and/or physician to ensure this unique and intense method will not interfere with their mental or emotional health.

Is Conversing with Death a form of  psychotherapy?

No. While CD can complement therapy, it doesn't take the place of psychotherapy. 

What does Conversing with Death say about the afterlife?

CD ha a curiosity to the theory of ongoing Consciousness. 

Does that include reincarnation?

Yes. Reincarnation is an interesting study for quite some time. A good read is Surviving Death by Leslie Kean.

Why didn't you include the afterlife from the start?

From the beginning, I was much in tune to how our culture avoids thinking of the mental, emotional, and physical processes of dying. It seemed to me that many could quickly resort to themes of the afterlife as a means for comfort, but couldn't or wouldn't entertain conversations about what happens to us here and now. There should be a balance and CD has taken the path to join the study of what Bruce Greyson, M.D. calls "Intellectual Honesty."