Death By Design
Eileen Robertson Hamra
Eileen Robertson Hamra is the woman you meet—at the gym, in the coffee shop, or dropping off the kids at school—with a story that draws you in the minute she begins to tell it. At age forty-one, after losing her husband in a plane crash, she became a single mother to three children aged eight, seven and four. Overnight, the man she thought she would spend eternity with, the literal pilot of her family’s wonderful life, was gone. When everything seemed broken, the future she dreamed about now impossible, Eileen had to make choices she never imagined making.
What she did choose to do was peel herself out of bed those first few weeks of mourning, and with constant love and support from family and friends, she found a well of inner strength and she dipped down into it. Working through her own grief and the grief of her children, Eileen experienced a gradual spiritual awakening. The result? On the other side of tragedy, she found new love, gave birth to a miracle child, and rediscovered her calling: to build stronger, loving and ever evolving families.
Eileen believes we don’t always get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose the story we tell when asked, “What happened?”
With the intention of helping others tap into their inner resilience and reimagine adversity as an opportunity for growth, Eileen shares her story of loss and rebuilding in her memoir, Time to Fly. Because of her story—thanks to her story—Eileen has dedicated her life’s work to carrying on the legacy of the family she grew up with, the family she created with Brian and the family she continues to grow with Mike.
Eileen holds transformational retreats in Chicago, Los Cabos and elsewhere. As a public speaker, certified yogi, holistic nutritionist, and life coach with an MBA, Eileen brings a practical, holistic and humanistic approach to everything she does. From creative advising to impact investing, to building strength emotionally or physically, Eileen holds space to stay focused on what she believes matters most—family, friends, and community.
38. David Gaynes49:37
37. Mike Ferris55:32Mike Ferris is a nationally recognized expert in home care and hospice sales, marketing, and customer service. He has consulted with many of the most successful home care and hospice organizations in the country. Mike and his team deliver consulting and training programs based on their combined experience and expertise. Their services focus on referral management to maximize admissions and increase partner loyalty.https://healthcarestrategica.com
36. Jonathan Roberts39:43Jonathan is obsessed with helping others improve positive and decrease negative habits to live more fulfilling lives. As the co-founder of Evolve United, he’s fueled by spreading that positive impact. How? By presenting the multifamily industry with a tool that provides added value to residents, while simultaneously building the #1 place for wellness professionals to work in the US. He started young, getting his NSCA-CPT at 19, and went on to get his CSCS before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. The goal of becoming an NBS strength coach was no longer fulfilling when he realized he had the opportunity to make an impact on a national scale. His top priority is to make every members of Evolve United feel as valued as possible. By pouring into the lives of our wellness professionals, they can pour into the lives of those that they touch. His mantra is to be the change that you wish to see in the world and Evolve United is an extension of that mission to both our partners and team members.
35. Dr. Martha Calihan45:20A practicing physician for over 30 years, Dr. Martha Calihan blends her knowledge of Functional and Integrative medicine with the mystical and spiritual, creating the space to help people heal on all levels. She practices and teaches Mindfulness, offers workshops in the US and in Ireland, and has done extensive work in death and dying. She lives and practices in Leesburg, Virginia.In this memoir, A Death Lived, Dr Martha Calihan shares the story of her husband's final illness and death to address some of the big questions about end-of-life care and the dying process. Her unique perspective as both a wife and a physician allow her to explore these issues on a personal and professional level while also weaving in some of the mystical aspects of dying that she witnessed.
34. Andrea Lantz, MSW39:14Andrea is an LCSW with a unique skill set after years working in the field of palliative care and community education. She graduated from Indiana University and received her Master of Social Work from the University of Southern Indiana. She quickly learned grief is beyond death, but rather any form of loss. Her business, Tree of Life Counseling, LLC, has expanded upon the concept of traditional care and service. It embraces supporting people coping with or preparing for the ever-changing seasons of life, regardless of age or health condition, to start conversations and healing before it's too late. Services offered include mental health therapy, educational presentations, and advance care planning. Her non-profit, What Matters Most? Evansville, Inc. strives to be a ripple in the water through conversations at the crossroads of grief and inspiration with the goal of creating a community where you can live well and die well, because you can grieve well, all the losses. This is done through, but not limited to, it’s podcast, River’s Fog, setting up lemonade stand gatherings, and encouraging others to write in to their “Share Your Grief Story, Anonymously” Project.
33. Brad Macy, RN28:37The Macy Catheter was invented by Brad Macy, a veteran hospice nurse and recipient of 2013’s National Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse of the Year Award. The inspiration for its invention came directly from a memorable patient interaction.Over the years, Brad has seen thousands of difficult symptom management cases while assisting patients and their families in the middle of the night. The most challenging cases were when the patient could not swallow medication and end-of-life symptoms were spiraling out of control.One night, Brad had a patient who was experiencing severe terminal agitation. The patient was suffering; he was shouting, he was climbing out of bed, and he was clearly very frightened. Brad got orders to administer a sedative that would help calm the patient. Since the patient was unable to swallow, the prescribed route of administration was per rectum. He administered the sedative in tablet form rectally as prescribed, and waited “that difficult wait” for the patient to calm while giving the patient’s son emotional support. An hour later, the patient was worse. The desire of both the patient and his family were that he be able to die peacefully and at home. Brad called the doctor again for a repeated dose of sedative. While preparing to administer the second dose, he realized that the previous dose was still undissolved in the patient’s rectum.Brad was left with a dilemma that is well-known by every experienced hospice nurse: how to help a patient who is experiencing severe symptoms and unable to swallow reach a state of comfort within the home setting.Motivated to reduce the severe agitation and suffering of his dying patient, Brad found a way to give the medication as a suspension that would absorb quickly in the patient’s dry rectum. He crushed the tablet, added water, and administered the medication suspension into the rectum with a urinary catheter. The patient calmed down quickly and was sound asleep within thirty minutes. The patient’s son was deeply grateful for an easy solution that controlled his father’s symptoms with minimal subsequent discomfort or disruption. The patient died peacefully at home a few days later.Given the successful outcome of this case, Brad decided to create an optimized device to facilitate this intervention. He subsequently co-founded Hospi with the goal of making a commercial device available that could provide comfort and relief for patients and their loved ones on a much larger scale than would be possible as a lone practitioner.Hospi developed the Macy Catheter to improve the patient and caregiver experience with serious or terminal illness. The Macy Catheter is designed to maintain patient comfort and dignity while leveraging the speed and established benefits of rectal administration. The Macy Catheter is of particular relevance during end of life, as it can help patients remain comfortable in their home. It can also reduce the need for more costly and complex administration routes like intravenous delivery, which is seldom used in the hospice setting. The patented device has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. FDA.To learn more about Hospi Corporation, click here.
32. Dr. Christopher Kerr32:50Hospice physician. End-of-life researcher. Acclaimed author of Death Is But a Dream. Death Is But a Dream, based on Dr. Kerr’s extensive research with hospice patients and their families in Buffalo, NY, highlights and validates the powerful dreams and visions often experienced at end of life that bring comfort and meaning to the dying process.Dr. Kerr is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Medical Officer of Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo, a valued member of our Coalition and parent organization of Hospice Buffalo. Dr. Kerr wrote Death Is But a Dream, an examination of ELEs, based on his experience with hospice patients and their families in Buffalo, NY.“Surviving Death” is a six-part series that explores the end of life through personal stories and research on near-death experiences. The fifth episode documents Dr. Kerr’s conversations with hospice patients of all ages who report seeing and interacting with deceased loved ones. These experiences can offer comfort for people as they near the end of life and, in turn, for their caregivers and loved ones.“We’ve done studies of hundreds of bereaved people and it’s very clear that what is good for the patient is good for the loved ones, and it absolutely soothes them in grief,” Dr. Kerr explains during an interview for the series.“Surviving Death” is now available to stream on Netflix here. For more information on Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo, click here. You can also learn more about the work of Dr. Kerr and his fellow researchers by clicking here.
31. Bill Vicary31:45Just Call Bill specializes in providing technology services to senior adults and their families. We are the company that loves working with seniors! Our team of technology professionals has the experience to take care of your phone, tablet, laptop and computer and more. This is an ideal service for you, your mom, dad, aunt, uncle and grandparents who don’t live close by family members and need assistance with their technology. Bill is a proven instructor at OLLI Furman, graduate of the Seniors Leaders of Greenville (OLLI Furman), instructor at Wofford Lifelong Learning Institute, member of the Upstate Senior Network, and has worked with several senior communities and centers, as well as hundreds seniors. He understands the value of relationships and successfully partners with businesses and organizations to provide services to the 55+ adults and their families.http://www.justcallbill.net
30. Margo Fowkes01:07:29In 2014, Margo Fowke’s 21-year-old son, Jimmy, died after an eight-year battle with brain cancer. A year later, her mother died. In 2017, the Loomis resident started the website Salt Water (findyourharbor.com). The website is chock-full of blogs with topics ranging from loss to caring for yourself after loss. It also offers resources for the bereaved as well for tips for comforting the bereaved. (It’s not so much what you say but that you say it that matters.) Margo Fowkes, Founder of Salt Water, talk about the ways her grief has changed over time and offers hope for other grievers.