The Dying Experience — Myths and Answers

Podcast #171: The Art of Manliness, A Man's Life Podcast by Brett McKay, January 22, 2016

All of us are going to die someday. And most of us will have loved ones who will die from disease or old age before we do. In fact, some of you listening right now may be dying yourself or watching a loved one die. Yet most modern Westerners aren’t prepared for the actual event of dying because we’ve done such a great job cordoning it off from the rest of life. If you’re a young person, you’ve likely never seen a person who’s dying. Consequently, there are lot of myths and misconceptions about the dying process. There’s also a lot of fear — both for the person dying and those watching them die. But my guest today has devoted herself to educating people about the dying process and showing people that it’s more than a medical event. Her name is Barbara Karnes. She’s a hospice nurse and the author of several books about dying and how to bring it back to the natural part of life that it is. Today on the podcast Barbara and I get into what to expect when you’re in the twilight of life and how you can make the experience less scary and more meaningful.

“New Rules for End of Life Care,” Part 2 of 2

Episode 30 - Dance to Death Afterlife Podcast by Brant Huddleston Jan 21, 2016 | Matters of the Heart, Planning for Death

In part one of this interview we met Barbara Karnes who spent decades working as a Registered Nurse and was present for the deaths of hundreds of people. The observations she made during those sacred moments, and the lessons she learned, led Barbara to craft a new way to think about dying, one that will transform how families might help a loved one die, and how you might help yourself when your time comes. Her compassionate wisdom is offered in a kit that includes two easy to read booklets and a copy of her new award winning film “New Rules for End of Life Care.”

Now if you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to part one, you might want to jump over there and take a listen, because that’s where we first meet Barbara, and where she talks about how to recognize the signs that someone is dying, and some specific things you can do to help a loved one when they are dying. In this part two we dig deeper into what’s in Barbara’s kit, how it helps, and we take a trip in the Dance to Death time machine into the future. I even ask Barbara if Grandma should be allowed to spark one up and get stoned in her dying days if that what she wants. I think you’ll be surprised at her answer.

Please join me now for part two of my two part interview with internationally respected speaker, educator, author, thought leader, and now, award winning film producer, Barbara Karnes RN.  

“New Rules for End of Life Care” Part 1 of 2

Episode 29 - Dance to Death Afterlife Podcast by Brant Huddleston | Jan 21, 2016 | Matters of the Heart, Planning for Death

While at the bedside of hundreds of people during the dying process, my guest Barbara Karnes, a Registered Nurse, noticed that each death was following a near identical script. Each person was going through the stages of death in almost the same manner. And most families had the same questions. These realizations led Barbara to sit down and write the "Little Blue Book" — a book that changed an industry. Written in non-medical language for families, her booklet changed the way we experience the death of a loved one, because with knowledge comes understanding, and understanding reduces fear.

Barbara’s most recent project is a 25 minute film called "New Rules for End of Life Care," in which she compassionately explains the stages of the dying process, talks about behavior changes as they pertain to food, sleep, and withdrawal, and addresses issues relating to the use of narcotics, addiction, and overdosing. The film is racking up more awards than I can list, and when you listen to Barbara speak, you’ll know why. Hers is the voice of wisdom, grace, experience, and kindness.

Yoga Chat with the Accidental Yogist

Episode 219 - Life Matters

After seeing "New Rule For End of Life Care" at the Awareness Festival, Joni Yung sought out Barbara Karnes, RN to be a guest on her Podcast to talk about the film. "New Rules for End of Life Care" gives information on end of life care that addresses not only the behavior changes as they pertain to food, sleep and withdrawal but pain management and the use of narcotics, addiction, and overdosing.

Barbara Karnes and Demedicalizing Dying

Journey Podcast: Deanna Cochran

Deanna Cochran interviews Award winning author and nurse, Barbara Karnes has seen the evolution of the hospice movement from the beginning and has seen what is working and what is not. We have a very frank discussion in this episode of how the new wave of death awareness may fit in to help fix the weak areas in our present system.


Gone From My Sight

Good Grief Radio Show with Cheryl Jones

At the end of life, there is so much mystery, so much we don't know. But because of the work of Barbara Karnes, we do have a map of the physical territory. Just knowing that what is happening to a loved one at the end is part of the natural process of dying can be a tremendous comfort. How did Barbara come to write her seminal books to support hospice patients and their families? What feeds her passion for educating all of us about what to expect at the end of life, and how to support each other? What changes has she seen in the field over her long career? Join us to find out.

Read More....




The Labor of Dying

Through the Eyes of Women Radio: Corinne Frugoni

“Birth and death are the only two universal experiences in the human condition.”

So writes Barbara Karnes, RN who noticed, after her experience at the bedside of hundreds of people before they died, that each death she witnessed was following an almost identical script. Each person was going through the same thing. And most families had the same questions.

In our society death is practically viewed as optional and is definitely a conversation stopper. Most of us are woefully unprepared when a loved one dies. Consequently Barbara took it upon herself to provide instruction to families, friends, caregivers and professionals about the dynamics of dying beginning years to moments before the last breath. Read More

Gone From My Sight

From Grief to Grace: Chaz Wesley

Twenty-five years ago there was no information available for families about the dying process. One woman changed that. Barbara Karnes, RN, has dedicated the last 32 years of her life to the education, care, and comforting of dying people and their loved ones—and the most useful things she’s learned along the way be been distilled into her books. With over 8 million copies sold, "The Hospice Blue Book," Gone From My Sight, changed the way we experience the death of a loved one. Another booklet, My Friend, I Care is a guide through the grief experience—and proves that knowledge reduces fear. 


Alaska Radio Show


The Gentler Symptoms Of Dying

The New York Times: by Sara Manning Peskin, M.D.

The patient’s hair was styled with curls so stiff, they held her head a few inches up from her hospital pillow. She had painted her lips a shade of bright pink that exuded the confidence of age. Just after her colon burst, she was still awake. She looked around, at me, at the monitors. She asked for pain medication. “Am I dying?” she asked. “We think so,” I said, touching her manicured fingernails. “I am here with you.” Later, she kept her eyes closed but opened them when we talked. It was a state that the author and hospice nurse Barbara Karnes described as “one foot in each world.” Read More...

On Learning How To Die

NPR Oregon Public Broadcasting: by Irene Kacandes and Steve Gordon 

On Learning How To Die NPR Barbara Karnes

Longtime hospice nurse Barbara Karnes, for instance, advises those approaching their deaths to not put things off until a day or hour when they are feeling better. Assume, she suggests, that today is the best you're ever going to feel and attend to those activities and people who are priorities for you. We think that this is great advice, too, for those of us who have no reason to think our ends are near — because they actually could be, and also because we believe a good life means living your priorities and values as fully as possible at all times. To live them, you have to know them, and to know them, you have to spend time thinking about them. Read More...



Pathways to Healing: Death Is a Process

Townsend Letter: by Elaine Zablocki

Barbara Karnes, RN TOWNSEND LETTER  by Elaine Zablocki

Last fall, my younger brother was diagnosed with cancer, and I traveled to the East Coast to be with him. For 2 months, I spent several hours with him each day. My brother had terminal cancer, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with only a few months to live. Transfusions kept him alive. He was functioning well. He often had a smile on his face; he watched football games on Sunday with enjoyment. He was determined to live as long as possible, and to enjoy the time that was left to him. At the same time, his body had begun to shut down. Read More...  


Do You Have 'The Little Blue Book' in Your House?

Huffington Post Healthy Living: Judith Johnson

If you are wondering what I'm talking about, it is for you that I am writing this blog! Here's the bottom line: We were all born one moment of one day, and each of us is going to die one moment of another day -- we just don't get to know when that will be. For some of us, that is a major source of anxiety. Furthermore, we live in a society that has kept us in the dark about what to expect when we, or someone we love, dies. This absence of knowledge not only makes us ill-prepared to face death, but it feeds our fear of death, which in turn diminishes our enjoyment of life. Read More

Hospice Helps People LIVE the Best They Can

Moments of Life: Barbara Karnes 

Hospice care has a bad PR image

Hospice care has a bad PR image, not because we’re not good at what we do, but because people believe hospice takes care of people who are dying. Since we are a death denying society, no one wants to hear that they need hospice services. Read More

Three things families need to know when a loved one is dying

Three Things Families Need to Know When a Loved One is Dying

Around kitchen tables and in living rooms in homes across the country, more Americans are beginning to have that difficult conversation – discussing their end-of-life wishes. While it's important for loved ones to know the level of care and support you want at the end of life, it also is imperative that we talk about the process of death and dying. Read More

“This is How We Die”: A Morning with a Hospice Nurse

Confessions of a Funeral Director: Caleb Wilde

“This is How We Die”: A Morning with a Hospice Nurse Barbara Karnes RN

On Tuesday morning all I knew was that I was setting up an O’Connor table at the Heartland Hospice event that we were co-hosting. I got the table cloth & brochures all set out, greeted the attendees, and sat down in the back intending to “work” on my computer when the speaker, Barbara Karnes, a hospice nurse of 32 years, began speaking. Read More

Hospice Care: The Little Blue Book

The Edge: Michelle Markelz

Hospice Care: The Little Blue Book article about Barbara Karnes RN
 By the time you call hospice care, your house is pretty full. There is a freezer bursting with sympathy dinners, and its door is covered in sympathy cards. Once hospice arrives, it gets even fuller. They bring social workers with cathartic exercises and nurses to administer pain medication. One level-headed person wears scrubs and checks for a pulse while everyone else sobs or considers their grief. But no matter how crowded it gets, there’s always room for the “little blue book.” Read More