On this episode of The Kandid Shop Podcast, I had the opportunity to have a much-needed chat about death, dying, and end-of-life matters with two amazing guests.
Jenni Herchenbach, a death doula, end-of-life coach, grief tender, and founder of Flouri...
On this episode of The Kandid Shop Podcast, I had the opportunity to have a much-needed chat about death, dying, and end-of-life matters with two amazing guests.
The Stats: According to a Pew Institute study:
Talking about the end of life can be difficult and uncomfortable for many people, yet it is an important conversation that everyone should have. Being comfortable with end-of-life conversations involves having the knowledge, skills, and confidence to communicate effectively with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals about topics related to death and dying. It can be a challenging and emotionally sensitive area of healthcare, but it is an essential aspect of providing quality care to patients at the end of their lives.
Guest Contact Details
Jenni Herchenbach is a death doula, end-of-life coach, and grief specialist. As an occupational therapist, Jenni learned to sit with patients and families in the tender spaces built by grief — grief that accompanies illness, disease, injury, and death. At the beginning of the pandemic, Jenni took a deeper dive into all things death, dying, and grief and received certifications as an end-of-life coach and sacred passage doula. Jenni founded Flourish Collaborative to normalize conversations about death. Jenni is here to encourage and accompany you in the pursuit of your unique, good death.
Amy Hensley is a compassionate hospice nurse and co-founder of Sips and Wishes. With a Master of Science in Nursing and a background in graphic design, she brings a unique perspective to end-of-life care and advocacy. Her catchphrase, "From uncomfortable comes change," reflects her belief that difficult conversations can lead to positive outcomes.
As the oldest daughter and sister, Amy values honesty, courage, and authenticity. She strives to empower others to advocate for themselves and move one notch more comfortably, wherever they may be. Her strengths include harmony, discipline, consistency, connectedness, and relator.
After teaching nursing for several years, Amy realized that her true passions lay in end-of-life care and education. She became a hospice nurse and end-of-life educator, using humor, awareness, and understanding to approach difficult conversations with grace. By giving a gift to loved ones through preparing, educating, and documenting, she hopes to ease the burden on families and prevent the complicated grief that can arise from guessing and making decisions.
In her personal life, Amy defines herself as a mama bear, supportive friend, movie lover, and social introvert. She has found her voice and the strength to use it and encourages others to do the same. With her values and passion for end-of-life care, Amy Hensley is making a difference in the lives of those she touches.
Intro music: "Welcome To The Kandid Shop" by Anthony Nelson aka BUSS
The Final Chapter_mixdown
Kandidly Kristin: Hey, hey, hey, podcast Nation. It is your girl, Kandidly, Kristin. And this is The Kandid Shop. Your number one destination for kandid conversations. Today we're gonna have a kandid chat about the uncomfortable but super important topic of death, dying, and end-of-life matters.
Joining me for this very necessary discussion are Death Doula, end of life, coach grief, tender, and founder of Flourish Collaborative Jenni Herchenbach and RN Emerson Hospice Nurse, end-of-life educator and co-founder of Sip and Wishes, Amy Hensley. Welcome, welcome, welcome ladies to The Kandid Shop.
Amy Hensley: Thanks, Kristin
Kandidly Kristin: so nice to have you. Not The easiest conversation to be having. But I think it's a really necessary one because nobody, and I mean, nobody wants to talk about death and dying, but we are all going to come to the end of our time here. And so we need to have this conversation. So let's talk about it now.
My kids, my son and daughter both know where my "Red Folder" is, and that has all of my insurance doc, my will, advanced directives, and final wishes for when I'm gone, but a lot of people do not. So I poked around Pew Institute to find some stats. So here are a few, 90% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, but only 27% have done so.
60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is extremely important, but 56 have not yet communicated their end-of-life wishes. And the most common reason among oral respondents was not writing down wishes and values for end-of-life care where they're not sick or dying.
It's depressing to think about, and they do not know how to go about creating a plan. So, that's where this conversation comes in. But first I have to ask each of you, when did you know that this work was what you were meant to do? Cuz honestly, it's not something most people would see as their calling Amy, you can go first.
When was it for you?
Amy Hensley: I would say probably five or six years ago. I started working with a coworker who was very comfortable talking and educating me about the end of life, and it was never something that I shied away from, but I didn't have a lot of experience professionally and in the role that I was in a teacher, it was very necessary to talk to my nursing students about end of life, because they're all going to encounter patients who are dying. And I wanted them to be comfortable. So that just made me need to be more comfortable. And so it just came with practice and listening and educating myself and surrounding myself with people who were comfortable with the conversation.
And it's just become something that I don't have a problem talking about. And if anybody asks me, I'm willing to talk a lot about it. So I know not many people are, but I am one of them.
Kandidly Kristin: Good, good. Because we need more. And Jenny, when was it for you?
Jenni Herchenbach: You know, I was always that kid that wanted to talk about death and didn't understand why I got strange looks from people when I would say things like, oh, she died, or that person is dying, and adults would shush me or correct my language to make it more palatable. And I didn't understand. And that lack of understanding has kind of followed me into adulthood. I still don't understand why we don't talk about this.
It's the one thing we're all gonna do. And so to me, it's just common sense that we would talk about it. But I know that I live in a society where that's not the case. So I got comfortable with these conversations. I'm an occupational therapist, okay? And I worked for many years in a trauma center, and you get comfortable quickly talking to people about how even if there wasn't a death, a lot of times there was a change in their life that meant the life they knew yesterday is not the life they have now.
So nobody says, you know, on a Sunday afternoon, I hope I end up in a trauma center today.
Kandidly Kristin: Right.
Jenni Herchenbach: You know, I never met a patient that was glad to be there. But, you know, occupational therapy and my work prepared me to just sit with people at really Tender vulnerable, but uncomfortable times and I didn't realize that I was being prepared for this kind of work.
What happened for me was I took a break from my occupational therapy career because it's a very physical job, and I started realizing I can't continue to do this until old age, physically. It's going to be too demanding. And I took a break to see what else was out there option-wise, and then the pandemic hit. So that allowed me to, you know, when the pandemic came to be, there was a density of death that people had to talk about it. People were dying all around us. People had to talk about it.
And then a program that was educating and certifying death doulas went online. So the pandemic allowed me to access, you know, just a ton of information, a lot more education, and you know, I realized, oh, this is what I needed to do.
Kandidly Kristin: All right. That's awesome. So ladies, let me ask you, this the uncomfortability of talking about death, dying, end of life matters.
Do you think it is a cultural or societal thing Americans are uncomfortable with it, but some cultures are not. What do you guys think?
Amy Hensley: I would say yes. I don't know that it's only Americans. But I would probably, but even within, I mean like Americans are made up of so many different backgrounds that some Americans are fine with it, it can be the culture of your family as well. My family was very open about it.
Jenni Herchenbach: Yeah, I have found exactly what Amy's saying. The ways people live tend to be the way they die, tends to be the way they talk about death.
So I have encountered families that live more multi-generationally. So you'll see, you know, multi-generation parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, all growing up in the same house. And those microcultures tend to be much more open. About talking about the end of life because people are seeing it in real-time in their homes.
Kandidly Kristin: Yeah.
Jenni Herchenbach: But there's, you know, I will say I just spent some time in Canada and Canadians seem to be a little further along with this, which is interesting because ethnically, they're very similar to Americans but their government pays for end of life services and death doula services where in... you know, in the United States, we are a long way from those services being standard or covered by insurance.
Kandidly Kristin: Right, agreed. So, Jenni, I've been waiting to ask this question. What exactly is a death doula and grief tender, and what is it that you do?
Jenni Herchenbach: I am so glad you asked. So the word doula is an ancient word that means servant.
And a lot of people are familiar with the concept of a birth doula. So if people have gotten used to birth doulas being present during birth and that birth doula's only responsibility is taking care of that birthing human, the person giving birth is their focus. They're not worried about if the dad's in the room not worried about him. When the baby comes, not necessarily worried about the new human right, worried about that person giving birth. And I very much do that same kind of work as people leave this world. So instead of, instead of ushering people in, I'm helping people with their final curtain call and how they exit this world.
And then the grief tender part of it is, you know when I started this work, I knew I was going to be doing end-of-life coaching, which is helping people make their plan. Helping people put down, if a perfect plan could come to be, what would that look like? What would your death look like?
And then also actually being present as people die. Okay. I knew I would be doing that, and I don't know why I didn't anticipate this, but a large part of what I do is supporting people who are grieving. Okay. And I tend to grieve the way that I tend my garden. I meet it where it is. I meet people where they are.
you know, when you're out in a garden, you can't rush the weather, you can't change the soil quickly. You can't rush those seeds into sprouting or flowering. And that's really how I sit with people in grief. I meet them where they are and I.
I start to coach them through the process of letting the light back in because as people are grieving, there's just a lot of darkness.
Kandidly Kristin: Yeah.
Jenni Herchenbach: And so, you know, encouraging people that we can feel, humans can feel so many things simultaneously. So we can be in grief, in deep, desperate grief and joy at the same time. And it's just a reminder to people that, you know, I see you, I see that you're grieving. I see how you're suffering, but I also see how much joy is out there for you and you know, inviting people kind of back into that.
Kandidly Kristin: Nice. So Amy, how is that different from what you as an end-of-life educator do?
Amy Hensley: My goal is to help people have conversations with their loved ones about end-of-life medical options. And not many people know or understand what the medical options are or what the side effects of those medical options are some of them will be presented with those medical options in a crisis which isn't the best time to learn and make decisions. So our goal with sips and wishes is to have these conversations and the educational material in a comfortable, relaxed environment, literally around your kitchen table or in front of your fireplace with a beverage and a snack and we go through different body systems and teach about things like CPR or dialysis, just to name a couple. We thread through the whole party the concept of what this living means to you. Each person has a different answer for that. And that answer can guide what choices and what wishes you have for your end of life, whenever that might be. Because we don't know when that day is coming. It could be in a traumatic car accident or a stroke, or a boating accident, or it could be at a ripe old age.
Kandidly Kristin: Right.
Amy Hensley: But what we're finding is older, you know, those older folks our grandparents in their eighties and nineties are still presented with some of those options, and then they don't know what to do because they think they should, just because they can. And that's not always necessarily the best option for them. Right. So it's just really thinking about what living means for you, and let's get you the education on what C P R is in real life, so you can decide if that's for you or not.
Kandidly Kristin: Right. Okay. Interesting. Well, I think both of you, would be like the ideal thing to have. Yeah. So Jenny, what is the number one thing that people typically, and I know that everybody's different typically generally need or want from you as a death doula
Jenni Herchenbach: People just wanna be heard and seen. You know, I think, I don't think people human beings are any different at death than we are at life. I said before that people very much die the way that they live. So that's why I think it's so important that we start talking about, you know, the way that I say it to people is I want everyone to have the opportunity to pursue their good death. Whatever that means and that phrase, I use those words together very purposefully.
You know, we pursue things that we want and calling a death, a good death kind of takes people off guard. Because they'll be like, well, how can any death be a good death? And that makes me so sad because again, we're all going to do it. Why can't we do it well? Why can't we say, this is my plan, this is what I want, and darn it, I'm going out the best I can!
So what people want from me is kandid conversation. They want honesty. Some people wanna make sure nothing is sugar-coated. Other people want everything sugar-coated. So I just have to work with each client and figure out, you know, what language is gonna work for this client.
But, you know, I just open the possibility to people and ask them to get curious. If you get curious, what would your good dust look like? Where would you be? Who would you be surrounded by? What would you look at? What would you be smelling? What would you not want to be smelling?
You know, I've never met anyone that says, please surround me with strangers in a bright hospital room with walks of beeping. Like no one, no one has ever said, sign me up for that. But that's how the majority of us leave. The majority of us leave surrounded by strangers in a strange place.
Amy Hensley: That's exactly what I keep saying too, is like, just because we can doesn't mean we should, right?
Jenni Herchenbach: exactly. Yeah, exactly. And you know, the more that we can talk about it, every single conversation about this has a little ripple outward. So each one is like a stone that we throw into that pond, and we don't necessarily know what happens next, but I think that every conversation someone can hear, where we can say, I am going to die. I don't know when, but I am going to die and I want to do it on my terms. I want it to be my choice who's in the room. I wanna make sure that there are no lilies in the room because the scent of them makes me queasy. I wanna make sure that you know, certain people are there and certain people are not. Do not play certain kinds of music. Make sure that it's a rocket in that room. You know everyone has their way of living, and by planning, we can make sure that we die the same way.
Kandidly Kristin: Got it. And Amy, the same question for you. What are some of the top things that people need and want from you?
Amy Hensley: Generally, I would say for our audience, it's that opportunity to just have the conversation once we open up the floor to ask anything you want. The floodgates can sometimes open. People want the opportunity to talk and discuss and share what they want, what they have is their wishes with the people around them because so many times I'll have a couple and one will say to the other, oh? I didn't realize that that was your, you know, your wish or, I didn't realize that you felt that way about some stuff. And so it's just the opportunity to be as open as we can and start that conversation because not many people know how to start those conversations when you've been married for 50, 60, 70 years and what you say to me is, oh, we never had the chance to talk about what, how we wanna die.
It's like, you've been together for 50, 60, 70 years. Right? What, what have you been doing?
Jenni Herchenbach: I mean, the trouble.
Kandidly Kristin: What you've been talking about?
Amy Hensley: Yeah. Blows my mind.
Jenni Herchenbach: But yeah, Amy, I love that you bring that up because I've had the same experience where families and couples are amazing at making assumptions. And I will even share a little story with you. I was guilty of making that assumption. So when I started this work, when I was in my training, one of my requirements was that I planned my death. So I went through all the planning that I now do with other people, and the first thing is, where do you wanna die?
And I wrote down, I would love to die at home, but I know how uncomfortable that's gonna make my family. And I believed that statement to be true. And so I thought, so hopefully I get a bed at the only hospice house in town. You know, we live in Omaha. I live in Omaha, Nebraska.
There are almost a million people in the metro area. We have a 126-bed hospice in town. It's ridiculous. It's not enough, but I thought maybe I'll get lucky and end up there. And then my assignment was, go tell your husband or your spouse what you want. And I told him that, and he's like, no, I would be really upset. I'm upset that you would wanna die anywhere else. And I'm like, what? You wouldn't be uncomfortable with me dying at home? He is like, no, I think that'd be beautiful.
Kandidly Kristin: Yes.
Jenni Herchenbach: And I was blown away and I thought, oh, what a beautiful example. Slap in the face that we can't assume. We cannot assume what other people want or need unless we have to have a conversation. And even if you had the conversation a year ago, A lot of things change over a year. Like I would love that couples and families would sit down once a year and have this discussion, you know, like, maybe not Thanksgiving, but pick another day and have it be the day that you talk about this stuff.
Amy Hensley: Exactly, because like the other thing that people want from me is the stuff they didn't know they needed from me, which is the explanations on what these medical interventions are in real life. Yeah, because I'm telling you right now how you see CPR depicted on TV shows and in movies is not accurate.
Nothing about what you are seeing on most TV shows is how it is in real life, and that is Stunning to most people, and when I talk about the " success rate of CPR" they have to stop me and say, is that correct? Is that not what you wrote down on this piece of paper that you handed me and I said it is?
You know, the statistics of success on TV shows is about 80 to 90% because you can't have a hundred per cent, you guys have to have a little bit of drama, right? When they find out in real life that it's about 12%, they won't believe me. And they're like, well, what about we have all these AEDs out here now, isn't that number higher?
And I said, 12% is up from 7% before we had all these AEDs out here. And you have to figure out what success means to you because success could just mean your heart is going again, right? It doesn't talk about whether are you intubated. Are all of your ribs broken and now you're on pain meds because you can't take a deep breath? Are you getting pneumonia? Do you have anoxic brain injury? And we talk about all these things in real. Very simple terms for layman. I'm a nurse, but I'm used to educating people who aren't nurses and who have no background in medicine, and we explain things just in normal terms and it's eye-opening for a lot of people, and that's where they didn't know that they needed me to explain this to them.
Kandidly Kristin: Right. Since Amy was talking about it. Sips and wishes. How does that work? Do you come or you and your co-founder or another end-of-life educator come into somebody's space or do you do it virtually or do you meet somewhere like, I thought the concept was awesome.
Amy Hensley: Thank you. Right now I live in Lincoln, Nebraska, so just about an hour from where Jenni is. We do in-person parties right now and all of them parties because it's way more fun than calling it a class. We can come into people's spaces wherever, like if that's their home or a community center or a church, and we hold the parties there.
We have beverages and snacks, and it's very interactive. We have a curriculum that we, Erin and I developed, the smaller parties. I can manage those on my own. We have up to 12 people at the smaller parties. The larger parties are up to 20, and we both generally go to that because we're using a lot of emotional intelligence while we're doing this because it is such a sensitive topic for a lot of people watching the participants and listening to what they're saying and trying to answer all the questions. And we take breaks when needed because some of this is pretty heavy. Yeah. And everybody's got different life experiences. For example, we had one gal who needed a break after the CPR discussion because she had recently been through a scenario where she gave CPR to her husband. And we needed to take that break and catch our breath. And I talked to her out the side to see how I could support her. And so when we have these bigger parties, we both are there to make sure everybody's as comfortable as they can be. We understand these are uncomfortable conversations and we are both comfortable having those uncomfortable conversations. Still, it's a matter of helping guide and answers questions and moving somebody just even one notch more comfortable with such conversations because that is our goal. Is just to make everybody a little more comfortable with it. Because like we, Jenni and I have both said, our society just doesn't want to talk about it or think about it and we're superstitious that if we talk about it, it's gonna happen.
Kandidly Kristin: Right.
Amy Hensley: It doesn't work like that. But you know, nurses are as superstitious as anybody.
Kandidly Kristin: Yeah. Yeah. And Jenni, your Flourish collaborative; I love that name too, by the way. Why did you start it and what is it exactly that you do within it?
Jenni Herchenbach: Yeah, another great question. So flourish collaborative. I didn't wanna give my company a name that sounded sober or serious or sad.
I think that we can flourish as humans through our death and then the collaborative part is something I'm passionate about because I can't do it all. So, you know, collaborating with people like Amy and with other people in my small town neighborhood and the whole world thanks to the internet, it's just great to constantly learn from others. But what my company does, you know, is threefold. I do provide bedside services for people who are dying, where I accompany and accommodate them through the active dying process. I also do end-of-life coaching, which is done ideally with people who are not imminently dying, not terminally ill, it really can be done at any age where we just get curious about what would your good death look like. If you could plan it and we could script it, what would it be? And then, As those clients approach death, it's one of those things where we say, okay, here's the perfect scenario and we're gonna get as close to it as we can.
Because the reality is, just like when you make a birth plan, it doesn't always go to plan, right? But we try to keep things as close to it as possible. And then that third leg of my little tripod stool of services is the grief work; supporting people in grief, and that can be any type of grief.
My experience has been that people want to quantify the level of their grief, and that keeps people from sharing that they're grieving. So people will say things like, well, it's not like anyone died; I'm just grieving the loss of a job. And I'm like well that seems pretty big to me.
Kandidly Kristin: Right.
Jenni Herchenbach: I think humans tend to downplay their feelings, especially when it comes to grief. We, if you look at the bereavement benefits that we offer employees, it shows you how little we care that people are grieving. It's like, oh, your spouse died; see you in three days. And I hope you plan to be back at full capacity. And the reality is, that's just not reality. So we have people coming back into the workforce after death and people don't know what to say to you, so they stay quiet. They don't wanna upset you because I mean, you might remember someone died, feel like people act, like maybe you had forgotten and they reminded you so.
You know, we live in these very strange bubbles where we spend most of our time with the people that we work with but a lot of those conversations are truly just those water fountain conversations that are so, how's the weather? That kind of thing.
Kandidly Kristin: Right.
Jenni Herchenbach: But, My goal is to eventually roll out services to corporations and small companies so that grief support is an employee benefit because if we could support people in their grief in the place where they work, they would never look for work anywhere else if they felt loved and supported at the times that they're the most vulnerable.
So just teaching people how to have those conversations. People will say, what do I say? What do I say? Say something. Even, even if you say, you know, Amy, I heard that your dad died. I don't know what to say and I'm really worried that I'm gonna say something that might upset you. So I'm tiptoeing in here and I just want you to know that I'm thinking about you. And I might say the wrong thing, but I heard from a death doula that I should say something. So I'm saying something because I love you. Right? And then people always ask like, well, what question can you ask? My favorite question to ask people is, Amy, I heard your dad died. Tell me about your dad. And just leave it there. That way it's not, you know, maybe Amy and her dad didn't get along right. Maybe saying, I'm so sorry for your loss, feels ingenuine to her. That allows her to say what is on her heart, and it just creates this beautiful connection where there's just no expectation in it. It doesn't feel ingenuine it's just a genuine question of I heard this happened; tell me about this person.
Kandidly Kristin: Right. Okay. So what would each of you say to someone who might hear this, who has long avoided any discussions about death, dying end of life matters, but might be ready to start now? What would you say to that person? And Amy, you can go first.
Amy Hensley: Yeah. For me, I would say you're doing this for your loved ones. You are helping by preparing, educating, having conversations, and hopefully documenting. But what you're doing is you're giving a gift to your loved ones. We do a lot of pre-planning in our culture. And lots of people even pre-plan their funerals, which is fantastic.
That takes the burden off the family from having to make some of these details and oh gosh, what songs would Mom want at her funeral? Should we get blue or white or whatever? And the same is true with this. Erin and I have seen so many. So many times when the grief is so complicated by trauma and guilt because family members are having to guess and make decisions. Cause they didn't have conversations. Instead of just having the conversations, you share your wishes and then your medical power of attorney is just being your advocate. They're being your voice. They've already gotten it from you. What your wishes are, and they're just being able to voice them.
And so giving this gift to your loved ones is beautiful and calming and helps your loved ones manage their grief and not have it be complicated by that guilt.
Kandidly Kristin: Yeah. Now, Amy, before I let Jenny give her answer to that same question, What are the documents that people should have, like the absolute and then some options that they should have in their folder?
Amy Hensley: Yeah. I would say the absolute is to have a medical power of attorney who can be your voice when your voice no longer works. It only starts when you are not able to advocate for yourself. It could be a mental incapacity or a physical one. It doesn't have to be a relative. It just needs to be somebody that you trust and that you've had the conversation with. But documenting that helps everybody. It helps your loved ones, it helps your family. It helps the medical providers. Because there's one person that you have trusted to be your voice. A good thing to have would be a living will. And that spells out in as much detail as you want it to about what medical interventions you do or don't want. And there are, several ways to do that. And all of these things are called advanced directives. You are just directing what your care is in advance.
Kandidly Kristin: Got it. Okay, perfect. Thank you. I work at a senior building, ironically, everybody there is between 62 minimum and I have somebody that's 92 and they all have power of attorney. But what I don't think that a lot of them understand is that power of attorney ends when you die. And so, When I'm trying to ask them where should I send a security deposit or this, that and the other, there's no executor. They don't have a will. So everything is kind of in limbo. So the power of attorney is good when you're living, but I am pretty sure they end when you die and medical power of attorney is completely different. So I'm understanding now.
Jenni Herchenbach: Correct
Amy Hensley: yeah.
Kandidly Kristin: But having a will, people are always like, but my building is for low and moderate-income, so they all think that they don't need a will cuz they don't have anything.
Amy Hensley: Right. And yeah, and I'm not a lawyer so I can't speak to all of the intricacies and the details. And I'm sure that laws change from state to state. There are different kinds of power of attorney that you can have. You can have a financial only, you can have a medical only, you can have just one power of attorney that's over everything. You should have multiple power of attorney not only just... For example, you should have a primary financial power of attorney and a secondary financial power of attorney. You should do the same thing for medical. Have a primary and then a secondary, not equal 50: 50. You should have one designated and then a backup. I'm sorry, I can't speak to what all the details are as far as when stuff goes into effect for the financial wills and all that stuff.
I just mostly know about the medical stuff.
Kandidly Kristin: Got it. But that's important too because ...
Amy Hensley: Yes, I would say yes, out of my wheelhouse, but important.
Kandidly Kristin: Okay. And Jenni, what would you say to someone who's listening, who is ready to have this uncomfortable conversation? What would you say to that person?
Jenni Herchenbach: Just start small. Start with one trusted friend or family member. And just start small, and get comfortable with the conversation. It doesn't have to be a three-hour conversation the first time. This doesn't have to be stressful. I love to challenge people and I'll challenge your audience, you know, tell one person where you wanna die. If you get to choose where is it gonna be, and then ask them to answer the same question. And hopefully, that just gets the conversation rolling. I also love to challenge people to have this conversation with someone whose young children are incredibly gifted at speaking about these things, and I think society pushes it out of them as we get older like children are remarkably able to talk about these hard things.
They can talk about death, they can talk about dying, they can talk about what they want, and they do it without any fear. So the more that we can encourage young people to start having these conversations, the less we'll have to reprogram ourselves as adults that it's okay to talk about these things.
Amy Hensley: I would agree with that part, Jenny, because as my hospice nurse role was going on last weekend, I had a patient in the dying phase and family was gathered and there were several children between the age of, I would say three and eight, and they were just so curious and open and wanted to ask me questions... can I touch this my loved one's hand?And all these things. And so many of the grownups were crying, and why is everybody crying? And so it was just, I asked permission to the mom that's sitting across the room, I said, is it okay that I'm in talking to the children like this?
And she said: absolutely. And so it was just so fun. And I know that sounds weird, but it was to talk to them in a way that made them comfortable and answered their questions, just honestly and age-appropriate. And they, they were a public matter of facts about it. And then they left the room and went into the playroom and then they came right back again, and it was just wonderful.
And Jenni, I agree that we can keep them tuned into this and not have to reprogram them later. Beautiful. Love it.
Kandidly Kristin: Yep.
Jenni Herchenbach: Yeah. I love what you just said. You know it's children. I bet the children in that room helped the adults in the room.
Kandidly Kristin: Absolutely.
Jenni Herchenbach: I know the adults in the room have the same questions for you, Amy, like, can I touch your hair? What does this cord wire thing do? You know, kids are the best and they just ask, they ask the coolest questions and sometimes you over-explain and you realize, oh, they just wanted a very simple answer. And then they're like, okay, cool and off they go. If we can make death just a part of the conversation about life, it just makes it that much easier.
Kandidly Kristin: Absolutely! Ladies, this has been a long time coming, but so worth the wait. Can you each just give me your last thoughts on death and end-of-life matters, and then how my listeners can connect with you and your organizations should they want to?
And Amy, you can go first.
Amy Hensley: Okay. I would say take the time to educate yourself on what these medical interventions are no matter how that comes to you and just get the basic facts because that will help you decide if it's something you want or not. And if you keep in mind what your definition of living is, that will help guide you.
And to get ahold of me, we have a website https://www.sipsandwishesparty.com/ and we have a Facebook page, you know, ironically called Sip and Wishes. and the phone number is on there. Our email is on there email@example.com I love to talk about this and would love to see if there's a way we can get to a party at your house.
Kandidly Kristin: Nice. And Jenni
Jenni Herchenbach: Yeah. What I would say to your listeners is, just start the conversations as small as they can be and reach out to someone like Amy or me, because I think people don't know what they don't know. The key here is most people don't even know what questions to ask.
So just by starting the conversation, by getting in touch with someone who has a little more experience, you can start the process of pursuing your good death. And encouraging the people around you to do the same. As far as getting ahold of me, I work with clients all over the world thanks to Zoom.
So my website is https://flourishcollab.com/ I am on Facebook and my email address and all my contact information are on the website. I do a free consultations, get acquainted calls. So if anyone would like to talk to me more, they can certainly book a curiosity call and I look forward to that.
Kandidly Kristin: Thank you so much. Thank both of you. Thank you. First off, for your time, your patience and your observations, your expertise, your warmth and authenticity. Thank you for all of it. This has been just absolutely everything that I thought it would be and more so thank you for joining me.
Amy Hensley: Kristin, thank you so much. It was so much fun.
Jenni Herchenbach: Yeah. Thank you for opening the door for this conversation. I know that you do a lot of different kinds of conversations and thank you for recognizing that this is an important one for everybody.
Kandidly Kristin: Yes it is. It is. So listen guys, both Amy and Jenni's contact info, their websites, and any of their social links will be in the show notes with clickable links.
So you can just go to the show notes. There'll be key takeaways in there, and you can connect with either of them or both of them. I suggest both. That would be my suggestion because while what they do is similar, it is different, and I think both pieces are needed so that the conversation about death, dying and an end of life care can be complete.
Amy Hensley: Very well said.
Kandidly Kristin: Thank you. Thank you. That was off the top of my head. I didn't have that in my little notes, but
Jenni Herchenbach: we understood the assignment, Kristin
Kandidly Kristin: I understood the assignment.
Amy Hensley: She did.
Kandidly Kristin: This has been a great conversation. So, Guys, don't forget to visit my website. You know, I have to shamelessly plug my stuff at https://www.thekandidshop.com/ Listen to an episode or four, drop your review, and share the show with your friends. And as always, I want everyone listening to keep it safe, keep it healthy and keep it kandid.
Founder / Death Doula / End of Life Coach / Grief Tender
Jenni Herchenbach is a death doula, end-of-life coach, and grief tender. Jenni never expected to focus on death, dying, and grief - but her vast life experiences have led her exactly here. Jenni founded Flourish Collaborative in 2022 to normalize conversations about death. Her hope is that she can walk with people - one by one - as their pursue their unique good death.
Co-founder, hospice nurse, mom
Amy Hensley, MSN, RN
How I define myself: mama bear, supportive friend, oldest daughter and sister, compassionate hospice nurse, movie lover, former graphic designer, passionate human, social introvert
I haven’t always been my true authentic self. I’ve had to find my voice and the strength to use it. It takes practice, but I keep trying!
My values: honesty, courage, authenticity
My catchphrase: from uncomfortable comes change
My strengths: harmony, discipline, consistency, connectedness, relator
Wherever you are, I want to help move you one notch more comfortable and empower you to advocate for yourself.
Bio: I was a graphic designer for nearly twenty years before I went to nursing school. While I worked at a critical access hospital doing everything from birth to death, I got my MSN and then started teaching. During my teaching career, I found my voice and encouraged students to find their voice. Realizing that my passions include end-of-life guided me to become a hospice nurse and end-of-life educator. We all bring to the table our experiences, viewpoints, concerns, biases, and expectations. Giving grace to myself and those around me has helped me have uncomfortable conversations with humor, awareness and understanding. I'm becoming more comfortable with asking for what I want.
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