In the face of death, we can often find ourselves reflecting on our own experiences and seeking new, fresh opportunities to grow, shift, or maybe find a new calling altogether. That’s where I found myself last summer. Hoping to lean into more substantial training on death and dying, I connected with Dr. Andrea Deerheart and The HeartWay and learned about the innovative End-of-Life Practitioner (ELP) training they were spearheading. And through that conversation and the privilege of participating in the training, I came away with more than a few reasons worth participating:
1. You’ll learn fresh perspectives on death, dying, and more.
Between the content of the robust textbook written by Dr. Deerheart, and the in-depth days of class, students learn about multiple perspectives on death, dying, and grief. Within religious contexts and traditions as the base, we surveyed historical and mythological influences on beliefs and reflected together how people have attempted to make sense of death throughout centuries. The goal is to reinforce a sense of empathy for clients and their beliefs surrounding their own deaths, as well as to challenge the stigma of death and dying as something always to be hidden away.
In normalizing these conversations, Dr. Deerheart and the cohort created a safe place to discuss different beliefs.
2. You’ll gain tangible, practical skills to support those dying and their caregivers.
The empathy cultivated by discussion of historical, religious, and social contexts for death and dying invited us in to start crafting our work as a future ELP. In Level I, the implicit focus was developing a deeper comfort with these topics, and to work out an ease of communicating openly with others about it. Knowing that we’d be privileged to work with individuals from a myriad of backgrounds, having a general sense of cultural, religious, and social connections to this process allowed us to learn how to bring empathy into the space with a client, and to offer support that was informed by their desires, rather than our own opinions. It brings us out of ourselves to practice being of service as a conduit of care for our future clients.
Additionally, we practiced Yoga Nidra together, an in-depth training that can be found here.
3. You’ll connect deeply with a community of fellow interns.
Perhaps one of the most unexpected, yet energizing aspects of ELP Training is connecting with your fellow students in a cohort. The training sessions provide ample time to discuss these topics in breakout groups, and to connect across our mutual passion for caring for the dying and bereaved. The very nature of this work attracted individuals from so many backgrounds, professions, and lived experiences, that I found myself consistently stuck with gratitude for my fellow students and the ways they offered up their hearts vulnerably. Learning together was one piece of this unique experience that I will always hold dearly.
4. You’ll reflect on personal experiences and long-held beliefs.
In processing the course content in community with Dr. Deerheart and my cohort, I was compelled to share my own personal experiences as well as confront long-held beliefs related to death and dying. Without consistent room in everyday life to share about these topics and connect with others on them, they had become somewhat stagnant. But during this course, I was able to let those tender and important pieces of myself and my experiences breathe and find space in the light of the conversation, and through it, they grew and shifted and rooted deeper and flowered in new and surprising ways. The dignity of sharing and being shared with, offered these experiences and the people that were and are part of them—those we’ve lost and those who are living—a precious and especially unique space to which they could be connected.
Click here to find the date of the next ELP Level 1 program. If you, or someone you know, who might find value in The HeartWay’s offering, feel free to reach out to a representative by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or you may want to review the ELP program offering by clicking here.