What is death when you are on the other side of Mormon orthodoxy when the belief system you have inherited might not serve you well any longer?
When our former stories of death and dying tire, what new frames of meaning-making take their place?
In this reconstructing death series, I talk with a range of LDS spiritual, palliative and health care professionals whose work is with those at the threshold of death. Each of them explores their evolving understandings of dying and death as a result of both their professional work and their personal faith development.
My guests reflect on their refreshed understandings of death furnish them with new and enriched perspectives and stories about death that support their ‘falling upward’ (as Fr Richard Rohr calls it) into our second half of life spirituality.
Episode 1: Ana Nelson Shaw: Spiritual Care Co-ordinator
Ana Nelson Shaw lives in Butte Montana where she works coordinating spiritual care and volunteer services for hospice patients including making spiritual care visits. Ana talks about creating environments of kindness and compassion for those at nearing death.
Episode 2: Dr Ryan Williams: Internal Medicine Physician: Idaho
Dr Ryan Williams is a Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician. He served for 4 years in the US Air Force and he went on to specialize in Hospital, Skilled Nursing and Hospice Care. He has been practising in the Boise Idaho area for 10 years. Ryan discusses how his maturing faith has gifted him with more uncertain views of death and dying but have improved his capacity to respond to his patients with more openness.
Episode 3: Anni Lehti-Niemenan: Oncology Nurse: Finland
Anni Lehti-Niemenan is a registered nurse who works in outpatient palliative care at a university hospital in Tampere in Finland. Anni talks about dying, death and grief in Finland including how LDS funerals can sometimes be in competition with Finnish customs and needs.
Episode 4: Dr Julia Durrant: Neurocritical care attending physician: Oregon
Dr Julia Durrant is an attending physician in neurocritical care at a university hospital in Oregon. Julia has attended hundreds of deaths and she talks wisely about the point at which religion, faith and science intersect which has caused her to strongly believe that God is not orchestrating anyone’s death.
Episode 5: Dr Kathleen Moncrieff: Family and community-based physician: Calgary
Dr Kathleen Moncrieff completed medical school, her family medicine residency, and her master’s degree in medical education at the University of Calgary and she currently works in community-based family medicine. Kathleen talks about assisted dying in light of Canada’s new laws. She discusses how religious and cultural pluralism has shaped her approach to the dying and their families.