• Richelle Godwin

Family Meetings 101

Having a family meeting about death can be just what you & your loved ones need to all be on the same page in this natural journey. Read more to learn about what these meetings may include.

There are two types of family meetings that Gentle Passage Doula Collective (GPDC) offers, one for families going over the various stages of death: preparation for death, active death and after death care. The other, focuses with medical professionals helping them outline the best format when communicating with families directed more at palliative care, or when the dying is focusing on quality of life vs medical treatment for certain diagnoses to extend life. We’ll be focusing on the first type of family meeting in this blog.

Usually, a member from GPDC will sit down and have a conversation with you and your family about your situation and the topics you would like to go over. This is a personalized meeting where we structure the format of the meeting, discuss your concerns, share with your family and loved ones the things you want to share, the plan you want to move forward with and how others can participate, learn from and grow. In this meeting we help provide education to the dying and the family of what is going on, help answer questions along the way to better understand and appreciate how to die well and what that means, listening to the dying’s wishes and how to enforce them while encouraging others to participate and actively embrace this natural journey. It’s also a great opportunity to provide some coaching to the family, maybe go over certain topics or concerns as well as address anything else that the family needs to cover. We like to break it out into our main three service areas to provide better direction for everyone.

Preparation for Death

This can be a simple conversation about how to prepare for death. It can start anywhere in the process that you need. In preparing for death, some topics may be on Advanced Care Planning, going over Living Wills, Revocable Trusts, who is going to be the Health Care Durable Power of Attorney or Financial Durable Power of Attorney, Estate Executor or Successor Trustee and the duties laid out in those jobs. It can also address concerns of illnesses and/or diagnoses. In these meetings, it’s an opportunity to establish how the dying are preparing for this event and bringing the family on board to share concerns, raise questions and get everyone on the same page to support the dying, as well as having the necessary documents ready or at least discussed.

Active Death

The meetings around active death focus more on discussing with the dying and family what the diagnosis roadmap may look like. Mapping out the plan of care for the dying, how the interdisciplinary medical team can help, who can provide support and the type of care desired. This can encompass many of life’s domains, such as sharing your favorites and how you want to be cared for during specific times i.e. “I like to sleep in until 10 am and then have a hot cup of coffee to wake up. At this time, I like to listen to this music station and read my favorite headlines from these news platforms.”

These meetings include other discussions such as celebratory services like living funerals, special events, photography events where we share joyful times and help arrange for these. It can also be a chance for ongoing meetings, where the family comes together for regular conferences, discussing and updating the plan of care, changing the care as necessary and a great opportunity to work with the family and medical team so the dying can be supported and shed light in these emotional times.

This can also be a great time to hold special vigiling and rituals that the dying want and include with the family what is going on. It can be a place where the family can also express their concerns and receive additional support, such as hiring a Death Doula. Active dying encompasses more than just planning, but support, education and delicate care both emotionally and mentally. These meetings can include the dying as well as be a great place to educate the family members as well as the medical team to best support the path the dying wants.

After Death Care

Of course, we encourage having meetings before and during active death where we discuss what plans are desired for the body once you have passed. After death care meetings are working with the family, medical team and other necessary companies to know how the body is to be cared for, practical arrangements to be made and celebrations after death. GPDC can help arrange for these to take place, guiding you and your loved ones every step of the way, providing education and helping those in charge to be positively advocating for the recently departed. It’s a great time where we can work with family members for grief support, bereavement care, sharing workshops or support networks to help navigate the rollercoaster of emotions even years after death has taken place.

Where are you in your journey of a natural death? Gentle Passage Doula Collective can help guide you and your loved ones to discuss your needs, concerns and help answer questions so you can be supported in your dying plan.

Again, GPDC is here to guide you, your family and the medical professionals in having a supportive, proactive and empowering conversation about embracing death, having your affairs in order, answering questions and giving you and your family the ability to share, and understand what you want and need. In our family meetings, we can help support the dying as well as be there for the family at any stage of death. We are here for you, meeting you where you are. Don’t delay, reach out to us to schedule your family meeting!

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The tools, resources and information does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only, not advice or guarantee of outcome. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the Gentle Passage Doula Collective Website, downloaded resources and/or educational material, or misinterpreted the information/context/educational sessions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911. Gentle Passage Doula Collective and its members are not responsible for errors and omissions in reporting or explanation. No individuals, including those under our active care, should use the information, resources or tools contained within to self-diagnosis or self-treat any health-related condition. Gentle Passage Doula Collective gives no assurance or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness or applicability or the content.


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