What is it like to help someone pass from this life? How do you make it easier on the family? What do we need to know about this chapter of life, which we will all experience? These are the topics I explore with Zeena Regis on this episode of Leading with Health.

Zeena is the Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator for Symponia and has worked in hospice and palliative care since 2012. You can find her at zeenaregis.com.

Her training includes a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Agnes Scott College and Master of Divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary, where she was honored with the HJ Riddle Memorial Award for excellence in pastoral care. She has also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education through the Georgia Care and Counseling Center and also the Pediatric Chaplaincy Institute at the Children’s National Medical System in Washington D.C. She lives in Decatur with her spouse, nephew, and two happy, yappy pups.

Zeena references the book A Beginner’s Guide to the End during the interview.

Highlights include:

9:09 – ZR: “Family will say, “How did you get them to tell that story?” But just as an outsider, as an observer, people do want to share these things.”

9:29 – ZR: “Holding space is particularly what we get to do in spiritual care.”

10:58 – ZR: “People are who they are almost always up until death.”

13:40 – JM: “Are we comfortable just being quiet with someone and just being with someone anymore?”

14:55 – ZR: “Structure your time. If you’re going to sit at the bedside, think about the stories you want to tell, think about the music, think about the things that would bring your loved one comfort.”

15:38 – ZR: “I always tell people, you will be where they need you to be when they die … and don’t take that as any referendum on your relationship.”

17:14 – ZR: “They know they need to go but the thought of leaving you is really difficult. So sometimes just you leaving (the room) and giving them that space helps them do the internal work that they need to do to come to peace with that.”

19:54 – ZR: ” (When you are grieving,) you are not the same person.”

22:25 – ZR: “The mother of this patient asked me to take everybody’s phone and put it in a basket. And I remember when he died, the way all of the people rallied together because they didn’t have that screen distraction.”

24:30 – JM: “We are so taught to distract ourselves from pain that we never get to the benefit of feeling the pain, which is a deeper connection to ourselves, deeper connection to people, processing the grief of their loss and moving forward. I think sitting with that discomfort is essential and it’s like we’ve taught ourselves not to do the essential thing.”

27:22 – ZR: “Death doesn’t end relationships.”

27:35 – ZR: “Love is stronger than death.”

Leading with Health is hosted by Jennifer Michelle. Jennifer has a Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology and is a certified EMT. As President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, Jennifer specializes in healthcare marketing. She is on a mission to help women find their voice so they can create a stronger, more responsive healthcare system.