What is an End of Life Coach?

What is an End of Life Coach?

Hi, my name is Michelle Carter and I am an End of Life Coach. I’m also a third generation funeral director. I’m actually one of nearly a dozen members of my family who are funeral directors. I have lived in this industry my whole life. I’ve even spent most of my life living above various funeral homes, but I left the industry because I was frustrated. I was frustrated by seeing family after family come to me and make the same mistakes over and over and over again. Mistakes that could have been prevented with just a little bit of planning, so that’s why I became an end of life coach. My end of life coaching practice really has two distinct areas. The first area is working with families who are making plans well in advance of a crisis situation. In that scenario, what we do is we sit down, we look at where you are, what you value, what your priorities are, and how we can make it happen.

A lot of people think the end of life planning is simply picking out whether you want to be buried or cremated and what your casket should look like, but it is so much more than that. It’s about where do you want to die? How do you envision that happening? Do you have the resources available to make that happen? It’s also about deciding what your legacy is going to be. What do you want to pass onto your heirs? Have you taken the steps to make sure that that’s something that can happen? Whether it’s with a financial advisor or with an attorney? I have a wonderful network of amazing professionals that I can refer clients to for that. It’s also about looking at advanced directives. What kind of care do you want? What levels do you want healthcare providers to go to, to maintain your life and how will that change depending on the scenario that you find yourself in?

It’s very important the individuals and families think about these things and discuss them and put them in place before a crisis occurs so that when something bad happens- as it inevitably will for all of us- our family members can focus on their loved ones and the issue at hand and not be distracted by what did they want? How can we make it happen? Are we making the right choice? How are we going to pay for it?

The second part of my practice is working with individuals and families once they’ve received devastating news. Sometimes people are given a heads up that they have a few months left. Sometimes it’s a few weeks. Regardless of what the timeframe is, we sit down and we have a discussion about what you want to see, what your plan is for, how you envision the death occurring and what we can do to get all of those ducks in a row and take care of what we can in the time that we have, so that family members can focus and be present and not be distracted and worried by everything else that there is to worry about.

When you’re in a situation like that, that can be something as simple as connecting you with legal and find financial services professionals, but it can also be sitting  vigil with a family, answering their questions when the hospice nurse isn’t there. Explaining what hospice is and what palliative care is, how those work and how they can help to make this process less stressful and painful and to diminish suffering, not just for the person who was ill, but for their family as well. So that’s a general overview of end of life coaching and the services that I provide as an end of life coach. Some people call us death doulas. Some people call us spiritual midwives. The goal is the same:  to get families talking about end of life and difficult issues and making sure that everybody is on the same page so that there are no disputes. There’s no confusion, there’s no wondering about what someone would have liked or what someone would have wanted, but rather everybody being knowledgeable about exactly what the plan is, how we’re going to steer this ship so that they can focus on being present and you know, enjoying those moments as much as possible. So that’s a short synopsis.

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