End of Life Support

Support for a gentle death requires preparation

End of life counseling provides deep support and guidance for those who are dying so they may experience a gentle death. For family and friends, after the passing of a loved one, working with a death doula provides an opportunity to release the trauma and pain of loss and grief as well as guidance for the days to come.

Each person's needs and situation are different. Through this work, Kate offers individualized support to meet the needs specific to your situation. This can include palliative care assessment and logistical support, managing a support team before, during and after death, and having a hand to hold as you and your family navigate this transition time.  

What kind of support Kate offers
  • Help to build a support team of community, friends, and family.

  • 5 Wishes Living Will - covers your personal, emotional and spiritual needs as well as your ongoing medical wishes.

  • Assessment of  palliative care needs and options going forward.

  • Recommend resources for understanding how family and friends can help the person who is dying.

  • Help you get clear on what it is you need to say.

  • Support to address fears about dying.

  • Organize and support setting up a celebration of life for family and friends.

  • Continued Sacred Anatomy Energetic Medicine support before, during and after death.

Kate's Experience

Ric was a dear friend, photographer, thyroid cancer patient, navigating hospice, involved with the Living Well and Dying Well in America movement. In 2011, as he began facing his end of life strategy, he put a call out to his community asking for anyone interested to apply to help him take a train ride, an end of life wish he had. Ric wanted to take a train ride through New England with his wife and help from a friend, to see the beauty of the place he lived and loved.

Previous to this experience, I was not familiar with the idea of having a project manager to help facilitate these kinds of end of life wishes. The day I heard from Ric that he had accepted my proposal, we started to put together a plan to meet all his needs and expectations for the trip he envisioned. 

 

When the day of our trip arrived, I drove him and his wife to Boston South Station and after a 30-minute respite in the station we all boarded the train to Scituate. During our trip he took many photos out the train window. When we arrived, my sister picked us up and we enjoyed a delicious meal at a local restaurant looking over the water. The whole adventure was magic, and it brought alive in me a love of facilitating and being in service to those who are in the death and dying process. 

From that time on I continued to help Ric and his wife as a part of a group of friends who offered support and management through his death and continued support to his wife in the ongoing years. Ric’s “to do list" was long. We often went to his favorite places to take photos with magnificent flower gardens. Getting to support him during this time deepened and enriched our friendship. I got to see first hand how much impact it has when a person  outside of your family, helps you and them navigate the changing landscape of death.

 

Initially, when Ric was diagnosed, he invited a group of friends and family to his home to gather and share food. The first time we got together most of us were complete strangers.  Now, in the succeeding years, we are all still connected and continue to gather with Ric's wife for brunch to share food and savor the memories, as we did that first time with Ric.

I am not sure it is possible to be fully prepared for your own passing or the death of a loved one. Ric knew a gentle death was possible and that having support helps to get you to your next journey. Being with him during that time inspired in me and clarified the importance of community and the impact it has on having a gentle death and dying with dignity. 

Death and grief are as unique as the individual who is experiencing it; the same is true for family and friends. I am so grateful for the people I get to stand with and help as they face the loss and grief of death and the dying process. 

 

                                                                                                                   - Kate Zehnter M.Ed

Client Testimonials

"After someone you love dies, one is left with so many questions about how to honor their life.  My family decided to have celebration of life later that year to remember our daughter/sister, Anie.  I was so fortunate to have Kate as a friend. She collaborated with another wonderful woman to bring together a community of people and create a ceremony in which everyone who knew and loved Anie could participate.

It was informal and spiritual but a supportive and loving celebration for family and friends.  Kate joined with another friend to create a beautiful small raft that was made of branches, roses, and a bird's nest.  After the ceremony, this was set afloat in the nearby pond surrounded by rose petals.  


Our family will always be grateful for Kate's support and creative energy that surrounded us with love and helped us say good-bye to our sweet girl."

LH / Concierge / Seattle WA

 

 

“I didn’t go looking for the subject of death and dying it found me. That’s how it happens to all of us, I think. My mother's stroke led to a diagnosis of terminal lung disease. She got her speech and movement back, but we all lost the illusion that life is forever.

The bravest thing I ever did was to ask her how she wanted to live with the knowledge that her life was now in the countdown mode. I committed that I would defend her choices and if necessary push the rest of the world to respect them. Together we chose to be open… to discuss with family and friends that she was dying. Her mantra became, “I am not afraid of dying; I just don’t want to go to soon.” The next 22 months were some of the hardest and most exhilarating of my life. The grief was enormous; the physical and emotional strain ever-present. We made decisions together. Those were the best years of our relationship, as odd as that surely sounds.

During this time, I met Rick who spoke openly about death and dying. Our mutual interest in the topic expanded into a warm and wonderful friendship with him and his wife Diane. As Ric's illness progressed, the sense of urgency to push for a gentler way of dying grew exponentially. TeamRicy was born and continues to this day: just a bunch of people who loved Ric and are brave enough to talk out loud about death and dying. Nice people. All smart people. No celebrities or billionaires. Just a bunch of folks who think that Diane can provide surprising opportunities to live more fully.”

PN / Artisan Jeweler / Rye NH

"In October of 2019 you gave my mom, who was dying , a "distant" Reiki treatment. You also gave me a treatment.  I am so sorry I have not reached out to you sooner.  My mom did, thank goodness, have a peaceful death surrounded by her loved ones at home.  Thank you so much Kate."

 

MM / Lexington MA

Kate is a long-time advocate and supporter of Death with Dignity and the 5 Wishes Living Will program, supporting those in need to age with dignity.