Welcome to the latest installment of Passare’s Expert Series, a forum that allows our experts to speak directly to you. Today we welcome Passare Expert Contributor Dr. Susan Lieberman, Ph.D., co-founder of Y Collaborative, a consulting service that helps people learn about and plan for End-of-Life.
Dr. Lieberman has authored several books including, Death, Dying and Dessert: Reflections on 20 Questions About Dying. She is a certified thanatologist and a passionate advocate for conversations about End-of-Life.
Passare: Welcome Susan. Please tell us what a thanatologist is and what inspired you to pursue the certification.
Susan: I joke that I have a skull and crossbones tattoo. Actually, the word thanatology comes from thantos, the Greek word for death. A thanatologist is certified in the study of death and dying.
I came to this field the way many do, through a parent’s decline. My 92-year old mother was living alone, driving and doing fine…until one day she wasn’t. During her three-year decline, I found myself making decisions I could have made better if I had understood more, earlier.
My friend and Y Collaborative co-founder Nancy Rust was going through a similar experience. We met often for mutual support. One day I said, “Our parents are going to die, then we’re up next. I want to figure out how to do this better.” The more I studied, the more fascinated I became about how people manage death and dying.
Passare: What interests you most about End-of-Life Management?
Susan: I’m especially passionate about talking with people before they’re in a crisis. It’s fascinating to me that death is the one thing that all of us share in common, yet many of us pretend it isn’t going to happen. Maybe it will happen to you, but not to me. We’ll talk about religion, politics, money – anything but death.
Motivating people to talk about and plan for End-of-Life before it’s upon them is much easier said than done. I want to figure out how to get them to step out of denial long enough to talk about and plan for End-of-Life. Then they can return to their regular lives.
Read Susan’s full interview here.