Feeding at the End of Life—Webinar Recording

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Feeding a dying person can bring up a lot of ethical and emotional concerns. Is this act truly helpful or harmful? Bonnie Blachly and Richelle Godwin discuss what happens to the body when it starts to shut down, ways to support nourishment for the dying, risks associated with feeding and drinking close to death, and options to consider around eating, drinking and body care.

Richelle Godwin is a Registered Dietitian who has worked in end of life care for over 16 years. She has her own consulting company, Health Crush, and is also a team member with the Gentle Passage Doula Collective in the Seattle area. 

Highlights:

  • 7:22 – Our lives revolve around food
  • 9:28 – Signs and symptoms of dying
    • Weeks before death
    • Days before death
    • 24 hours before death
    • Final hours
  • 14:35 – Digestive system is the first to shut down
  • 15:15 – Components of the digestive system
  • 19:43 – Risks associated with continuing to feed
  • 23:39 – If they want to eat, feed them, but safely
    • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
    • Digestive issues and ways that you can help
  • 34:55 – History of forcibly feeding loved ones at the end of life
  • 35:38 – Cues that the person doesn’t want to eat
  • 37:25 – How to change the focus for loved ones
  • 40:35 – Group discussion and wrap up

“If music be the food of love, play on…” William Shakespeare

“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” Alan D Wolfelt

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” Julia Child

“The way to a man’s heart is through his belly.”

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf

“The people who give you their food give you their heart.” Cesar Chavez

“My weaknesses have always been food and men, in that order.” Dolly Parton

Patty Brennan

Patty is the owner and visionary force behind Lifespan Doulas. For 40 years, she has been a doula, midwife, educator, author, nonprofit executive, and entrepreneur. Patty has personally trained over 2,000 people to become doulas. She is the author of The Doula Business Guide: How to Succeed as a Birth, Postpartum or End-of-Life Doula, 3rd Edition.