Blog

death doula

Journey Through Death with Me: Advance Directives

An advance directive is a written statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment, often including a living will, made to ensure those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor.”

— The Oxford Dictionary

I think what intimidates people the most about end of life planning (besides the whole death aspect) is all of the confusing paperwork and language. As your doula through this death journey, it’s my job to make this easier for you. There are many types of advance directives: the health care proxy/durable power of attorney for health care, the living will, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), do not resuscitate (DNR) orders and organ and tissue donation forms are all included in this umbrella term. In this post we will cover the health care proxy and the living will. The American Bar Association goes over the difference between these two in the perfect amount of detail.

Basically, the living will component of the Advance Directive covers how you want to be treated in certain medical situations. The health care proxy form (or otherwise known as durable power of attorney for health care) allows you to designate a person to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to express your preferences about medical treatment. This could be because you are unconscious or because your mental state is such that you do not have the legal capacity to make your own decisions. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering who you should bless with this rather hefty responsibility and how you might want to strike up a conversation with them about your medical wishes. The Conversation Project has created an amazingly helpful document HERE that covers all of the considerations and legalities involved with your choice. Yes, this is a legal document. No, in most states, you do not have to get it notarized. Please read through this document before you continue on to filling out your own form.

Get your Advance Directive by state here. Once you’re done filling out your form, give a copy to your health care proxy and any other family/friends you deem necessary, give a copy to your health care providers at your next visit, give a copy to your local hospital at your next visit, keep a copy in your 3-ring binder (inside a sheet protector) and also keep a copy in your magnetic file holder that I want you to put on your refrigerator. Why the big fridge magnet, you ask? Well, if an emergency were to occur, all of your essential documents will easily be found by EMS and loved ones. This is especially important for those nearing the end of life who have specific Do Not Resuscitate wishes.

The Advance Directive is not set in stone. You can update it whenever you feel the need. Just shred the old copies and replace them with updated versions. If you’re healthy, I recommend reviewing your end of life care plans annually. However, you may want to do it more frequently if any big life changes occur or if your health status changes.

Do you need help starting a conversation with the person you’d like to be your proxy? Well, I’ve got you covered, here is a step-by-step guide.

Okay, next time we meet up we will cover a more robust version of the living will.


death doula

Journey Through Life & Death: Prep Yourself

Okay party people, let’s do this! So this year I’ve decided to get my act together when it comes to life, specifically the part of life that we all want to avoid…death. I’m hoping that if I get my self situated, my 72 year old mother will follow suit because currently her end of life plan consists of a handwritten letter attached to the fridge that basically just says to not have an estate sale where people comb through her used underwear looking for gems. I fear the day that something happens to her and I have no real guidance whatsoever on what to do. So I’m determined to not to inflict the same torture on my loved ones.

Initially, I had planned to begin this process at the beginning of the year but in order to reach the most people possible, I knew that I’d have to include a YouTube component. Yikes! The idea of uploading an awkward video for all the world to ridicule is daunting but I feel like this work is important enough to get over my ego and insecurities. So the time has come, better late than never I suppose.

This is what I consider to be a death journey and despite the bleak nature of the subject matter, it very much is about life as well. We will start with the basic forms needed that everyone, no matter your age, should have filled out just in case something unfortunate happens tomorrow. Once the most time sensitive documents are dispensed with, we will journey through the disposition of our bodies and then travel back through time from there. Why am I starting at the end, you ask? The last portion of this journey has a life coaching component that meets you where you are today and what a better way to gain some perspective and appreciation for the life you’re living now than to plan for its end.

Suggested Supplies

  • Access to a printer, printer ink & printer paper.
  • A pen.
  • Some way to save your digital files (ex. USB drive or Dropbox).
  • One folder.
  • One 3-ring binder.
  • One magnetic file holder like this one.
  • Sheet protectors like these.
  • Perhaps some art supplies if you like.
  • Maybe some personal photos that you love.
  • In the future you might want to get a small fire-proof safe for your documents.

See, most of this is all stuff you probably already have lying around your house so there is really no excuse for not following along with me (yes, I’m talking to you, MOTHER!). If you don’t have these supplies, don’t sweat it. As long as you have access to a printer, you’re golden.


Now let’s begin…


Health, Wellness & Enjoyment

Motivation Monday (A Day Late)

Happy 2021! Here are some virtual goodies that inspire me and perhaps they’ll do the same for you.


For those of you with new years resolutions to exercise more and/or lose weight, this podcast is for you. Here’s some good advice for those who are feeling a bit worn (like me), injured (like me) or are planning to use age as an excuse to quit (like me).


This woman is my workout idol. She’s a 70 year old powerhouse! And what an amazing transformation. If you want to be inspired, check out her website:

https://www.trainwithjoanofficial.com/


And it’s not too late to join in on 30 days of yoga. For free! This year marks my 5th year doing Yoga with Adriene and it’s a great way to start the new year off gently so you can build up to either more yoga or more vigorous exercise.


This last one is a video that will help you wrap up your feelings about 2020 and clarify your goals for the new year in a thorough and unique way. I can’t wait to try it.

Self Improvement Sunday

Self Improvement Sunday: Arbitrary Timelines

I took last week off of Self Improvement Sunday in order to enjoy a Self Care Sunday. Yes, that basically meant sleeping in and pampering myself with some beauty products from a gift bag that I had won, but it still counts. Plus, I really didn’t find any content that I found all that inspirational last week and I’m not about to half-ass Self Improvement Sunday by posting something lame. After scouring the interwebs, I found something that fit the bill. I especially liked the first speech by Jay Shetty. He touched on something that has always bothered me and continues to get me fired up. It’s the idea of having a timeline in life. You know, “By this age I must have accomplished ____ or I’m a failure” kind of crap. Or my favorite, “You’re too old to do that.” I’ve been hearing that a lot lately and frankly, I’m sick of it. Just because people have decided to use some very arbitrary and nonsensical yardstick to measure their lives does not mean you have to measure yourself with it too. Just pass them on by and get back to being awesome.


Self Improvement Sunday

Self Improvement Sunday: Hack Your Brain

This is a long one but I found it worth the watch. This definitely jumps off from the video I posted last week about how we need to act first and motivation follows, not the other way around. Also, stick around for his simple breathing exercises for relaxation. I’ve been using them and they’ve helped me calm the heck down.

Events

Lansing Community Library Art Show

IMG_20180303_141310_580ABM_152070807320180303_140717ABM_152070803620180303_140458ABM_152070799720180303_140435ABM_152070794720180303_140419ABM_1520707888ABM_1520710197Jaime Hazard art show

Welcome to my first art show! It’s from now until the end of April at the Lansing Community Library. I had a lot of fun revisiting my past work for this show and also creating some new things. I hope people can see it in person but if you can’t, I’ve included images of everything on display. Plus, all prints are available in my online shop. The library had to reduce my long-winded artist’s bio so it fits onto their marketing materials so the following is the official bio that I wrote:

Jaime Hazard has been a wildlife enthusiast ever since she hatched with all the other tadpoles in her clutch. Paired with that was a love of all things arts and crafts. In high school she studied art, played in several bands, walked dogs at the SPCA and spent every free second at the zoo. When it came time to decide what to study in college she was torn between animals and art. Animals eventually won out and she went on to earn an associates degree in Veterinary Technology from SUNY Delhi and for a little while she actually worked at the zoo she’d practically lived in as a teenager. Being the lifelong learner she is, she went on to earn a bachelors degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a masters degree in Environmental Communication and Participatory Process from SUNY ESF. Jaime went on to work as a field biologist and biological technician in various locations all over the United States including Yellowstone National Park. And although her work focused mainly on threatened and endangered species of reptiles and amphibians, she’s not biased. She loves all animals equally (with the exception of crabs, of course).

Needless to say, art definitely became an afterthought until one day a friend commissioned her to create some recycled jewelry for her store. Wanting to put her own personal touch on things, Jaime decided to depict her own experiences working with animals into small jewelry-sized works of art. What she discovered through that process was that her once very precise technical style had turned into loose, haphazard scribbles and what would normally take her months of agonizing over every detail was a quick, extremely satisfying, worry-free process of creation. These works are on display here as well as many more that she’s done since.

When Jaime’s not drawing, she’s working at Cornell University where she helps diagnose parasitic infections in every imaginable creature that this universe has cooked up so they can live long, healthy lives. She also teaches private tai chi and qigong lessons, volunteers for Hospicare, is diligently writing a book on life and death care, takes every opportunity to dance with complete reckless abandon, is obsessed with all things paranormal, makes and sells soap, builds furniture (and is currently working on a teardrop camper), and happily cohabitates with her furry best friends. Jaime would also like to warmly invite you to visit her photography exhibit coming up in May at Hopshire Farm and Brewery which will showcase some of her favorite moments of being a field biologist.

 

Adventures

The Everson Museum

Last month my mother and I joined the hoards of others who enjoy all things artsy fartsy at Syracuse’s City Market. (I will leave out the part of her almost killing us by driving the wrong way down a one way road into oncoming traffic.) The market relocated this year to the Everson Museum‘s community plaza. So every second Sunday of each month, from May to October, there’s a craft fair with food trucks and live music and as an added bonus, there’s free admission to the museum. At the craft fair, I managed to pick up a few absolute gems including a set of four camping inspired salad plates, dinner plates and bowls for $10. They’ll be perfect for my future travels. In addition, I also found a $5.00 camping hammock which I’m dying to use. I’ve been wanting to ditch my tent for a lighter, more comfortable option.

Needless to say, that was a very worthwhile adventure so if you’re in the Syracuse area and looking for something fun to do, look no further. Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures of the market but I did manage to get a few pics of my favorite works of art at the museum. Enjoy!

IMG_20170814_072445_430
A very cool sculpture made with real knitting needles by Lois Hennessey.

IMG_20170814_072547_577
A profile shot of our busy little knitter.

IMG_20170814_072702_614
I love this wee little tea pot by Richard Notkin. It would probably hold a shot’s worth of tea so its practicality is in question but I doubt function matters when it comes to art.

IMG_20170814_072833_097
Emperor Moth by Michael Lucero.

IMG_20170814_072952_157 (1)
The flip-side of Emperor Moth by Michael Lucero. The wings are made out of plywood which gives me all sorts of creative ideas for future projects.

IMG_20170814_073129_240
Now this is my kind of fiestaware! Created by Michael Gross.

IMG_20170814_073341_449
This is called The Ego Cup & Saucer by Matt Nolen. Very detailed and pictures don’t do it justice. I don’t think my ego could squish itself into such a small vessel…just putting that out there.

IMG_20170814_073628_989
This is incredible! Sadly, I didn’t get the artist’s name because there was a tour group right in front of the info. Guess I’ll just have to go back another time…twist my arm!

Musings

A Ghost Story

Here’s a true story that I recently shared on Jim Harold’s Virtual Campfire and I thought I’d share it here as well…

Here’s some background to keep in mind: When I was thirteen, my sister died of cancer. She was 23 at the time. I’m now 41 years old. Well about six months ago, I had a friend of mine, who is a shaman, perform a journey session on me. During the journey, my guides kept telling her to tell me to “play more.” They were adamant about it. She even wrote it down to me in all caps “PLAY MORE!” I thought, that was interesting since I’ve been rather depressed and holed up lately. Then about a month ago my massage therapist told me about this amazing psychic that she went to and was raving about how I had to go. I’m skeptical but I trust her so I figured that at least it would be interesting. Keep in mind, this psychic only knew my first name. She didn’t have a clue how I came to know about her or even how I got her contact info, she prefers to know as little as possible. Well, my reading was very detailed and spot on and as we were nearing the end, she said that there was a young girl next to me pressing her face to mine and saying that we share the same face. She asked if it was my sister and is her name Julie? And indeed it is! She went on to describe this needlepoint tapestry that’s hanging on my mom’s wall that she had made before she died, etc.. The psychic then told me that she has an important message for me: “PLAY MORE!” I nearly died laughing at this point. I guess the entire supernatural world is conspiring to get me to have more fun. She went on to describe how she sees my sister swiping her hand across my desk and clearing it of all the things I have to do that keep me from playing. She warned me that if I get to work or come home and all of my stuff is on the floor, that it’s her trying to give me that message. Well, I was greatly amused but I went on with my life as usual. About two weeks later, it was about 9:30 pm and I’m sitting on my couch watching TV. My dog is on my right and my cat is on my left. All of a sudden there’s a loud bang, like a hand slamming down on my table. It occurred right on the table with all of my work on it, right in front of our very eyes, and everything scattered to the floor. There was nothing tall that tipped over…nothing that I could debunk. And all of my animals were right next to me. My cat just about jumped out of his skin and he slinked up the to table to investigate, all sorts of freaked out. I just turned the TV off, grabbed the dog and her leash and said “Okay, Julie. I’m getting up and we’re going to play!” And that’s just what we did. No complaints from her since.

Adventures

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum

Yesterday was the mega controversial inauguration day of Donald Trump and today was the Women’s March on Washington. There were also local marches that I could have attended, but I’ve just been so conflicted about world issues of late that I just want to seek what little peace I can find. Despite being hung over, when a friend offered up the chance to go to the local museum, I jumped at it with full zeal. I’m so glad that I went. My heavy heart feels lighter thanks to the majesty of artistic expression.

I can’t recommend enough going out into your local community and discovering or rediscovering all the things it has to offer. Sometimes we need to be reminded of all the reasons we choose to live where we do. Today was one of those reinvigorating days for me.

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum is located on the beautiful Cornell University campus and is absolutely free to the public! I feel like a complete idiot for not going there all the time. I only live ten minutes away and I work right across campus. The 360° panoramic views of Ithaca from the 5th floor alone are worth going. I can imagine sitting there and either reading a good book or sketching.

Here’s just a taste of what you’ll enjoy when you visit:

abm_1485040415abm_1485040541abm_1485040749abm_1485040844abm_1485040945abm_148504106620170121_140308