Mar 30, 2023
“We give lip service to… ‘what matters in the end’, but are we really living in that way now?” -Dr. Amy Robbins
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Have you ever seen someone die? Do you know what actually happens? Does it scare you?
Today we talk with Julie McFadden (Hospice Nurse Julie), a hospice nurse whose videos showing people what the process of dying looks like have garnered millions of views. Julie’s mission is to educate people about death and help them feel more comfortable about it since it’s the one thing we all do.
Listen in to hear how Julie got into hospice nursing (it wasn’t her first or even second pick), what active death is and what it’s like, some of the phenomena people often experience close to death, and what life is really all about.
Topics We Discuss:
[2:56] Julie’s experience creating a cult-like following by talking about death and dying on social media.
[4:03] Julie’s shift from ICU nursing to hospice nursing. Death happens a lot in the ICU but isn’t discussed. Julie knew that needed to change. She went into hospice nursing because she knew there had to be a better way to die.
[10:22] Hospice vs palliative care vs death doulas.
[15:29] What is actively dying like? It usually lasts a few hours to a few days. Our body’s natural dying processes kick in, similar to the way our bodies instinctively birth. We all pretty much look the same when we’re actively dying, no matter what disease we’re dying from. The process may seem graphic if you haven’t seen it before, but it’s all normal.
[22:12] “Rallies” sometimes occur right before someone actively dies. The person can seem almost like they’ve made a full recovery for a day before suddenly dying. “Visioning”, or a dying individual seeing their dead loved ones, typically occurs in the month to weeks before death while the individual is still perfectly lucid.
[26:03] Julie knows that visioning is not psychosis or drug-induced delirium or other conditions commonly attributed as the cause because she has seen those things in a clinical setting and says it’s completely different. Many people find it very comforting.
[29:54] Julie’s shared death experience. See William Peter’s book "At Heaven's Door" (affiliate) for more anecdotal stories of people’s shared death experiences.
[36:35] Death and dying and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. Julie has always been spiritual, and her work as a hospice nurse has only solidified her belief in something more. Dying and birth feel like we’re going to or coming from a place we all know.
[40:33] Hospice has made Julie realize that life is about connecting with people. Deaths of Julie’s loved ones have given her the understanding to not take life for granted, to not hold grudges, and to be easy on herself and others. Connecting with a higher power and serving others brings contentment and connection.
[44:42] Medical Aid In Dying (MAID) or “assisted suicide”. Julie is supportive of this practice. Some states in the US allow this. It can be a beautiful, intentional experience.
[51:26] Psychedelics and death care. There is some promising research behind psychedelics, and Julie knows of healthcare practitioners who have witnessed it and are in favor of it.
FOLLOW HOSPICE NURSE JULIE:
Life, Death and the Space Between is brought to you by:
Dr. Amy Robbins | Host, Executive Producer
PJ Duke | Executive Producer
Andrej | Podcasticize | Audio & Video Editing
Mara Stallins | Outreach & Social Media Strategy
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