My Biggest Regret When My Dad Passed

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

March 19, 2023 [printfriendly]

Death is the beautiful end to life.

In New Orleans, death is celebrated with music, parades, and cheer.[1] And that’s the way all of us should view this miracle at the end of life. Certainly, it should not be feared. And family should not be discouraged from discussing death with each other and with the one who is dying.

Sadly, when my dad was close to death, my mom never allowed my sister or me to discuss his imminent death. I wrote about my biggest regret when my dad passed HERE. My mom never allowed my dad to talk about his fears and dreams as he approached his transition. In my mom’s world, death was to be feared and never spoken of.

I knew I could never repeat my mom’s ignorance of the beauty of death.

Since my diagnosis of incurable bone marrow cancer in 2018, I have discussed my eventual death with my wife and adult children. It is not a secret topic. Open discussion reduces the fear and allows our emotions to be expressed. This has been a cathartic experience for me encouraging my spiritual awakening and growth.

So, the big question I grapple with is, “What is death all about?

End of life experiences have been documented for thousands of years. The soul plays a major role in the process of dying. And in most cultures, the soul is revered. At the end of this blog, I share several fascinating documented studies about the end of life. They brought me great comfort in understanding what happens next.

 

Hospice

Today, hospice is a well-equipped, all-embracing, empathetic way of approaching the end of one’s life. The hospice team can provide care in the patient’s home. Staying at home in a loving and familiar place could make all the difference for the patient’s emotional comfort.

Hospice’s directive is to keep a person with a terminal illness comfortable until death. In addition, the hospice staff will support the entire immediate family by helping in many ways – both physically and emotionally.

When the time is right, the doctors and nurses of hospice will provide pain relief using various medications including opioids. Opioids progressively reduce severe pain and suppress respiration.

 

Dealing With a Loved One’s Death

Many family members may feel unprepared for the death of a loved one. This could lead to increased health costs and legal costs. In addition, being unprepared could lead to prolonged grief, emotional disturbances, sleep disorders, and guilt.

You can be better prepared for the death of your loved one if you understand what I have written in this paper. Ask yourself, “If my loved one were to die soon, how prepared would I be for his or her death?”

One of the benefits of hospice care as I mentioned already is that this organization also offers support for you. The hospice team will provide emotional and religious support as you require. They also will direct you to the necessary professionals to make sure financial and legal matters are set in place. The hospice professionals are available to answer all your questions about the preparations you must take. Approach hospice as a vital resource for the needs of your dying loved one as well as a resource for your needs to prepare you for the death of your loved one.

 

Prepare for Death

If you can think about your death, which may be imminent, you can prepare for it. Your goal should be to make your own death as comfortable, peaceful, and meaningful as possible. The following steps may make sense while preparing you and your immediate family for your ultimate moment:

  1. Make your wishes known. What are your goals? Share them with your loved ones. Be sure to complete the legal documents to assist your family.[2] They include a last will and testament, a living will, a durable power of attorney, and a durable healthcare power of attorney. See to it that your financial matters are in order.
  2. If you are concerned about your funeral arrangement, make them yourself. Some will want to be buried; some may want to be cremated. If the decision is important to you, make the arrangements while you are alive.
  3. Welcome your wide range of emotions that you will experience after your diagnosis of a terminal illness. There will be moments of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
  4. Review your life. Discuss your regrets, your accomplishments, your hopes, and your dreams. This can be a personal review that you have with yourself. Or it could be a review that you share with your loved ones. You could write down your thoughts, record them on video or audio, or just internalize your deepest thoughts. Your review will serve as your legacy of your life. During your review, consider including these active steps:
    • Acknowledge the important people in your life.
    • Recall the memorable events from your life.
    • Apologize to those you love if you hurt them.
    • Forgive those whom you love but have hurt you.
    • Express your gratitude for all you have received.
    • Say “I love you” and “Goodbye” to all who deserve your love.
  1. Educate yourself of the common end-of-life symptoms. Most people experience physical and psychological changes near their end of life. Most of these events can be addressed at home through the hospice care system. As I said, hospice’s goal is to make you comfortable while going through the death process as well as assisting your loved ones who are coping with your death.

 

Celebrate

Death is the beautiful end to life. To only mourn but never celebrate is an injustice to you and the deceased. As I shared in the opening of this Blog, I regret that I did not share in my dad’s transition from life to death.  I never was allowed to discuss with my dad what was on his mind in his last stage of life. And my mom never allowed my dad to talk openly about his impending death. It saddens me to this day that there was no closure between my dad and me and his most inner thoughts!

But I learned two important lessons.

  1. Communication with one who is dying is powerful. Both the person who is dying and the family must be able to share in this natural endpoint of living.
  2. The soul is immortal and will transition out of the mortal body to return to its home leading to the Almighty.

 

More Than a Mortal Life

Dr. Christopher Kerr

Is there more to mortal life than what we experience here on earth in our physical body? Dr. Christopher Kerr[3] suggests that the dreams of his dying patients may give a glimpse into that ethereal, spiritual world.

Dr. Kerr is the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Executive Officer for Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo. In 2020 he published his book, Death Is But a Dream: Finding Hope and Meaning at Life’s End. In his book, Dr. Kerr interviewed over 1400 patients who were in hospice. All his patients have two things in common – they are dying, and they know it. These extraordinary people have dreams, but they are not regular dreams. Many of his patients describe their dreams to be “more real than real”.

Are these dreams just the mind over-experiencing its memories, or responding to drugs, or being affected from a biochemical process in the dying mind. Or are these dreams coming from a higher place and a spiritual source? Those who are dying express comfort in their dreams and feel transcendence into a state of calm and acceptance.

Many of those hospice patients who were interviewed by Dr. Kerr see visions of deceased loved ones positioned around their death beds. Visitors in the room cannot see the entities who are real to the hospice patient.

 

Dr. Brian Weiss

In 1988, Brian Weiss, MD, a psychiatrist, published Many Lives, Many Masters.[4] This was a life chronicle of his patient, whom he calls Catherine, and her many reincarnations. Many of the details of Catherine’s experiences during her almost 100 lifetimes over thousands of years have been fact checked by Dr. Weiss.

 

Dr. Michael Newton

Dr. Michael Newton was a hypnotherapist who died in 2016. He authored two excellent books that detail his research regarding the immortal soul – Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls[5]. He interviewed over 7,000 patients along his extensive career using “past life regression hypnosis”. This is a technique where a patient is guided into a state of deep hypnosis and then can recall “past lives” they have lived. During these hypnotic regressions, his patients also recounted their experiences of spiritual “life between lives”.

Dr. Newton’s patients confirmed that human souls were created by an incomprehensibly superior, all-encompassing power. They described in detail that a soul exists within a physical body here on earth, and a soul’s purpose is to experience important lessons – so many life lessons. After death, our soul returns to its spiritual home with other souls. After a while, the soul may return in various human physical bodies many times at its discretion to complete its learning process. Eventually, all human souls will go to the same place to become One with the Ultimate Creator of the cosmos.

For me, the most amazing discoveries from Dr. Newton’s work were that the people he guided into a hypnotic state had similar experiences once in the hypnotic state. However, his patients had many diverse backgrounds – some were religious, some were agnostic, and a few were atheists. They were from all walks of life and varied educational backgrounds. Yet all had similar descriptions of their “life between lives” once they were in a state of deep hypnosis and entered their superconscious mind.

 

Dr. Ray Moody and Robert Monroe

Other evidence of life after death was documented in the writings of researchers like Dr. Raymond Moody and Robert Monroe. Both Dr. Moody’s book, Life After Life[6], and Robert Monroe’s book, Ultimate Journey[7], explain the beauty and marvel of our soul’s home in the universe.

 

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross[8] had a strong believe that we are more than our physical body. She said, “Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.”

Dr. Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies, and author of the internationally best-selling book, On Death and Dying (1969). In this book, she elaborated on the Kübler-Ross Model – a method that explains the five stages the terminally ill will go through as they experience dying. As I mentioned, these stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And loved ones around the dying person also will experience these stages.

Dr. Kübler-Ross was a powerful intellectual force who helped create the hospice system in the United States, which I discussed earlier. Dr. Kübler-Ross helped turn the investigation of physical, psychological, and social problems associated with dying into an accepted medical discipline. In 1998, Dr. Percy Wooten (at that time, he was the president of the American Medical Association) said, “Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a true pioneer in raising the awareness among the physician community and the general public about the important issues surrounding death, dying and bereavement”.

 

Going Home

As a person enters the last moments of conscious life, the mind continues to function. The mind is the manifestations of thought, perception, emotion, determination, memory, and imagination that take place within the physical structure of the brain.

As a matter of fact, the mind can still hear when other signs of death have occurred.[9]

To this end, the Monroe Institute[10] and Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross have produced a specialized audio series with guided imagery for the caregiver and the dying person to listen to even after “death” has clinically occurred. The series is called, Going Home. They help an individual who is dying to transition in a positive way. They also aid caregivers who are tending to the person who is dying.

Here are three links to the compact discs of Going Home: HERE, HERE, HERE.

If you are in a situation where death is imminent or anticipated, I highly recommend these audio recordings to ease the transition from life to death. Since the mind continues to function after physical death, the guided imagery of this series of CDs will assist the transition of the spirit from the mortal body to its immortal home.

 

Your Comments & Questions

“End of life” discussions are important subjects which demand more attention. They have been swept under the rug for so long. I would love to read your comments and questions. Let’s bring them out into the open for all to read. Just enter them below in the Comments Section. I will do my best to answer all your questions.

 

[1] https://www.joincake.com/blog/new-orleans-funeral/

[2] https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/getting-your-affairs-order

[3] https://www.drchristopherkerr.com/

[4] https://www.brianweiss.com/about-the-books/many-lives-many-masters/many-lives-many-master-chapter-1/

[5] https://www.newtoninstitute.org/books/

[6] https://www.amazon.com/Life-After-Bestselling-Investigation-Experiences/dp/006242890X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3TXHNQH7CPBWX&keywords=dr.+raymond+moody&qid=1564147321&s=gateway&sprefix=dr.+raymond+moody%2Cstripbooks%2C140&sr=8-1

[7] https://www.monroeinstitute.org/catalog/61

[8] https://www.biography.com/scientists/elisabeth-kubler-ross

[9] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-67234-9?fbclid=IwAR1wWgWCtFDAV7BUtc8YV0NGUVucjiSpzZ-bkkihE5P3eHjwE8a4kBNAlaQ

[10] https://www.monroeinstitute.org/

Buy My Book

Crazy-Good Living

 

If you don’t want to miss out on new posts, sign up for my Free “Belly Bites” Newsletter and receive your free copy of Dr Al’s “5 Things That Could Be Impacting Your Health Right Now” HERE.

 

Thriving While Battling Cancer

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

April 27, 2020 [printfriendly]

 

Thriving While Battling Cancer

 

How can a person thrive while battling cancer? Is it really possible?

 

Yes, it is. And I’m an example! But I also had to deal with the reality of my mortality.

 

Let me share my awesome life today. But first let me share the importance of being open to the conversation about dying.

 

 

Dying

Dying rarely gets discussed. Most families shun the idea of talking about death. And when a member of the household is stricken with his or her mortality, most family members don’t know what to say. Most are in denial. Most can’t accept dying as the beautiful end to living.

 

Hospice is a unique palliative care and psychological support program provided for many terminally ill people who elect hospice care. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a powerful intellectual force who helped create the hospice system in the United States. She was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies, and author of the internationally best-selling book, On Death and Dying (1969)[1]. In this book, she elaborated on the Kübler-Ross Model – a method that explains the five stages the terminally ill will go through as they experience dying.

 

When my dad was dying 37 years ago, my mother refused to allow Hospice to come into our home.

 

My mom was in denial and refused to talk about death. She forbade us to talk about death with my dad. Her refusal was stressful for my sister and me, but her refusal was devastating for my dad. He never had a chance to express his thoughts, fears, beliefs, or how he wanted to die. He never was allowed to share the memories of his shortened life with us. Could my mother not have known that her husband was screaming within himself and wanted to talk about his most important part of life – his death?

 

My dad passed away alone in a hospital in Charleston, SC at the age of 69. I swore to myself that I would never deny talking about death with my wife, my children, or anyone else.

 

My mom passed away thirty years later in Indianapolis, IN at the age of 93.

 

 

My Mortality

At the age of 71, I was confronted with my mortality. In September 2018, I was diagnosed with incurable bone marrow cancer and was given 3-6 months to live. Since this cancer was incurable, I rejected chemotherapy and investigated a path of unconventional cancer protocols. After some research, I integrated necessary conventional procedures with my unconventional metabolic and physiologic protocols. My conventional oncologist has been amazing by helping me balance my personal healing modalities.

 

You must understand an important fact: I never thought of myself as a victim.

 

I never was in denial of my diagnosis or prognosis. When my wife, kids, and I were in my oncologist’s office and learned about this cancer, I was devasted. I felt the emotional punch of this game changer called IgA Kappa Light Chain Multiple Myeloma. Although it would disrupt my life, I refused to let it end my life. By the end of this appointment with my cancer specialist, I was OK with my decision to pursue a natural and unconventional journey to help heal my body. Most importantly for me, my wife and adult children also were in agreement with my plan.

 

Along my journey, I had some serious setbacks – especially in early August 2019. While in my bathroom brushing my teeth, I twisted my body to the left with my right foot planted on the floor. Since my bone structure was weakened from multiple myeloma and riddled with lytic lesions, my right femur snapped in half. I collapsed onto my ceramic tile floor breaking several ribs and my right humerus in addition to my right leg. I felt my life was over.

 

After being rushed to the hospital and having my right femur repaired, I was transported to a hospice cottage to die and was heavily medicated with narcotics. As circumstances would have it, a couple weeks later while I was in the hospice cottage, hurricane Dorian was threatening a direct strike on Charleston, SC. The hospital was ordered to evacuate all patients, and I was transported to my home. My wife scrambled to get a hospital bed delivered. The hurricane hit my home on September 5, 2019. All power went out for 12 hours.

 

During my hospice care, I experienced the loss of dignity. For more than a month I was confined to a hospital bed in the hospice facility and then in my home. I had to use a bedpan for bowel movements and was catheterized. In the past, I was shy about my bathroom activities, but now nothing was sacred. For sure, this was a learning period for me – but for the better.

 

Miraculously, I started getting better. I wasn’t going to die after all – at least not now. I got out of my hospital bed and rejected hospice care the first week in October. My goal was to mend. But while in the hospital bed, I was not able to follow my healing protocols. After I was able to get out of the bed and had my catheter removed, I began to live again, I was able to restart my detailed healing therapies. Most importantly, I also began my detox from narcotic dependency.

 

I was practically off and running with my new life. Yet, I did have another setback in mid-October – this time a fracture in my left femur. Fortunately, it was not as severe as my collapse in my bathroom in August. Some physical therapy after the second fracture was sufficient to get me right.

 

By December 2019, I was able to walk and do some exercises in my home. I was ready to thrive. However, I never went into remission. But I was feeling marvelous.

 

 

Thriving

My only physical limitations are few. I have discomfort every day in my legs from my previous pathological fractures. However, I rarely have to take anything for pain. I am limited with my ability to travel. For example, I can’t fly, and long car trips are not very comfortable. I also have a unique situation. When my right femur fractured and was surgically repaired, my leg length shortened by 1.5 inches. So, I needed lifts added to my right shoes to walk evenly. No one knows but me. I still am impeccably graceful and handsome.

 

My quality of life has been my prevailing concern all along my cancer journey. Although I had some setbacks, my goal was to make new memories for my family and myself. I had to retire from the active practice of treating patients in an office environment when I was diagnosed in September 2018. However, I stay professionally active by doing Skype and Zoom consults with individuals from all over the world and writing extensively. Not only do I talk about gut health and overall health, I have been speaking out about my unique cancer journey and my personal healing protocols. Several podcasters have interviewed me about my life’s work.

 

On April 14, 2020, I was honored by the IABDM (International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine). The IABDM appointed me as its Chair of the Periodontal Committee. In addition, I have written and recorded an 8-hour, Zoom program titled, “Biological Nutritional Approach for Dental Professionals”. The IABDM will sponsor my program and then award students who successfully pass the final exam with the designation of “Certified Biological Nutritional Dental Professional”. This is the only Certification of its kind. I am excited about this.

 

 

Your Take-Home Message

My life has not been broken by this incurable malignancy. I have no problem with acknowledging that this disease most likely will be the cause of my death. And I have no problem measuring my remaining life in months. Without a doubt, I have taken these lemons and made them into lemonade, although lemonade is not a nutritionally healthy drink (ha ha!).

 

If you have a life-threatening condition or concern, you have the ability to reframe your thoughts. You can become your loudest fan. You can investigate and formulate a new path. Ask questions to all who have knowledge to help you carve out your journey.

 

Being human, I have dived into the abyss of depression at times. But I have climbed out of this hole with the help of my amazing and supportive wife. You also have someone who cares for you as much as my wife cares about me. Welcome the help. It’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and determination.

 

Be well and thrive. Thriving is what all of us were meant to do on this earth.

 

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Death-Dying-Scribner-Classics/dp/0684842238/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1587580465&sr=8-2

 

 

If you don’t want to miss out on new posts, sign up for my email alert list here.

A Memory of My Dad

Dr. Al Danenberg Nutritional Periodontist

June 17, 2019 [printfriendly]

 

A Memory of My Dad
Philip S. Danenberg
April 14, 1914 – December 6, 1983

My dad was diagnosed with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy in early 1980. In those days, his condition was considered incurable. I went with him to his cardiology appointment when he learned of his diagnosis. As his doctor discussed the dismal prognosis, I saw the pain and loss of hope in my dad’s eyes. The physician basically said that there was nothing that could halt the progression of the disease, which would lead to death. I wish I knew enough to talk to my father about other options. I did not, and we never spoke of it.

Over the next couple years, his quality of life slowly declined. Sadly, my mom never allowed a discussion about his terminal illness. She was in denial and stayed in a state of denial.

When he began to deteriorate quickly, my mother continued to refuse us as a family to discuss his impending death. To her, “death” was a word never to be spoken. She prevented my sister and me from discussing life and death specifically with our dad. My mother also never had one-on-one discussions about death with him. He never was given an outlet to express his fears, his desires, his concerns, his last wishes, or his beliefs and disbeliefs about his transition after life.

Since my mom was in total denial, she would not allow hospice to be called in to help my father die peacefully with dignity. Bringing in “hospice”[1] would only confirm that he was dying. And she refused to let him know of, or discuss, his mortality. However, I’m sure he knew.

 

Hospice

Today, hospice is a well-equipped, all-embracing, empathetic way of approaching the end of one’s life. The hospice team can provide care in the patient’s home. Staying at home in a loving and familiar place could make all the difference for the patient’s emotional comfort.

Hospice’s directive is to keep a person with a terminal illness comfortable until death. In addition, the hospice staff will support the entire immediate family by offering assistance in many ways – both physically and emotionally.

When the time is right, the doctors and nurses of hospice will provide pain relief using various medications including opioids. Opioids progressively reduce severe pain and also suppress respiration.

 

Dad’s Final Days

I saw the hopelessness and fear in his eyes during his final weeks of life. I didn’t know what to do. My father was in and out of the hospital many times. One time, his doctor said he would die that day, but he then rallied and was able to go home. Still, my dad never could talk about his innermost feelings since my mother didn’t allow the opportunity.

A couple of days later, he was back in the hospital for the last time. I was with him in the hospital when his physician was “pushing drugs” into his intravenous drip line. My dad’s head was turned to the right, and he was looking straight up into the corner of the ceiling. He just stared at a point where the ceiling met the wall. His head never moved from that spot. His eyes glistened and teared. He never spoke. I never knew what was going on in his mind. I was distraught. I never was given a chance to talk with my dad on his deathbed.

That was the last time I saw him alive.

 

My Promise

I felt so helpless in those last weeks of my dad’s life. After that emotionally draining experience, I swore to myself that I would never allow anyone to be denied the ability to talk about his or her death. Death is a normal course of life. How could anyone deny a healthy conversation about death and whatever lies beyond death?

Today, I am open and communicable about my impending mortality. I support family discussions about death. I encourage emotions to flow and questions to be asked. When the time comes, I will welcome hospice into my life.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to make awesome memories for my family and myself – all the while striving to heal my body from my incurable bone marrow cancer.

[1] Hospice was included as a Medicare benefit in 1982.

 

Schedule a ”30-Minute Free Consult” with me to answer some of your questions and determine if we are a good fit for a coaching program! CLICK HERE.

 

If you don’t want to miss out on new posts, sign up for my Free “Belly Bites” Newsletter and receive your free copy of Dr Al’s “5 Things That Could Be Impacting Your Health Right Now” HERE.