Guts, Grit & Great Business Podcast
June 29th, 2021
End of Life Care & Getting the Conversation Started
With Maureen Kures, a 35-year oncology, hospice and ICU nurse, and now the CEO and Founder of Radiant Mourning at www.RadiantMourning.com.
In Maureen’s 35 years as a nurse, she was privileged to provide end-of-life care for many. She is now on a mission to guide one million families to decide, document, and discuss their final chapter plans to bring peace for those who live on. Maureen saw firsthand the devastation that occurred when families hadn’t had candid end-of-life planning conversations with their family members. Now she facilitates those conversations with families around the world and leads virtual group workshops to replace drama, trauma and chaos with calm, ease, and peace.
Join us for this most important conversation on end of life planning, and to learn how to begin this conversation with your loved ones. You’ll hear Maureen share some insightful stories from her 35 years working as a nurse, what happens when people avoid this conversation, and you’ll also hear Maureen discuss ways to make this conversation easier!
You’ll especially want to listen for the thing that people do wrong, even when they’ve completed their end-of-life-care planning, and why Maureen is on a mission to make sure that no other families have to suffer the devastation that she has seen when people get this piece of life planning wrong.
You’ll love Maureen, who is joyful, compassionate, and fun – she is EXACTLY the kind of person you want to hear from when tackling this topic, and getting this important conversation started in your own family.
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Biggest takeaways (or quotes) you don’t want to miss:
- Maureen’s sharing a moving story regarding the unsung heroes working every day in our medical services.
- What caused Maureen to say, “I will never let that happen to someone I love!”
- Why it’s so important to bring your whole family together to have this conversation.
- How often do you need to revisit your plan?
Check out these highlights:
- 15:02 Hear Maureen share on a life-changing story that converted her into an outspoken advocate for end-of-life care planning.
- 25:09 Hear Maureen share her story about how she approached this conversation and planning with her family, including having the discussion with her three sons.
- 31:18 At what age do you need to start thinking about end of life care?
- 37:30 What does “getting your affairs in order” really mean?
- 43:20 “My goal is family unity at end of life.” How Maureen worked with a family of six kids to facilitate this difficult conversation.
- 50:05 The importance of discussing end of life care plans with your doctor, and honoring the choices of the individual who is dying. If the choices are known, we can honor them. If their choices are not known, the end of life experience can be so painful and hard on families, causing a secondary tragedy beyond just the death of a loved one.
How to get in touch with Maureen:
On social media:
FREE GIFT FOR LISTENERS:
You can get access to Maureen’s FREE Gift: Does Speaking of Dying Scare You to Death? 7 Prompts to Get the Conversation Started. Go to the main page of her website to get access to this free workbook
Or visit StartTheTalkNow.com
Imperfect Show Notes
We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below.
GGGB Intro 00:00
Coming up today on Guts, Grit & Great Business…
Maureen Kures 00:04
Yeah, it is tough. I mean, I think, do I really want to sit down and talk to my kids about all this? Well, probably not. But it was so important to me because I thought, okay, now I’m on the other side of 55. And if something happens, I want to I want to make sure they’re prepared. Or if something happened to their dad and I while we were traveling, or even just writing together, you know, how many times have we heard about a car accident where both parents were killed or where, you know, both were unable to make their own medical decisions. So I just wanted them to have a game plan, you know, that I wanted them to have that roadmap, and that’s become my mission is talk to you families about it. It’s not easy. It’s, it was probably the most powerfully rewarding conversation we had as family.
GGGB Intro 00:55
The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of Guts, Grit & Great Business stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit & Great Business podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.
Heather Pearce Campbell 01:27
Alrighty, welcome. I am so excited to have you back here with me again today. I am Heather Pearce Campbell, the legal website warrior. I’m an attorney and legal coach based in Seattle, Washington and serving information entrepreneurs around the world. I am so looking forward to this conversation today with my friend, Maureen, curious, and Maureen. How long have we known each other now? It’s been a couple years, I think close to five to five? Yes. So we were introduced through I believe a mutual connection here. We’re both in the Seattle area. And I was a fan of Maureen from the start. She is just somebody who is lovely to know she is she’s a helper. She’s a connector. She has such a huge heart for people and I really, really really love your work Maureen. So I’m so excited that we get to talk about it today. If you do not know Maureen, Maureen Kures is the CEO and founder of Radiant Mourning dot com. She is on a mission to guide 1 million families to decide, document and discuss their final chapter plans to bring peace for those who live on as an oncology hospice and ICU nurse for 35 years. She was privileged to provide end of life care for many. She saw the devastation that occurred when families hadn’t had candid conversation with their family members. Now she facilitates those conversations with families around the world and leads virtual group workshops to replace drama, trauma and chaos with calm ease and peace. Maureen, so you’re you’re still on the east side, right, in Bellevue. So she’s my neighbor just across the water. She is a lovely mother to three amazing sons. I love seeing your social media posts about your boys all grown up.
Maureen Kures 03:30
I am going to be an empty-nester in the fall. My two oldest are finally fly in the cube.
Heather Pearce Campbell 03:36
Oh, that is just so wild. Well, congrats. It looks like you’ve really done an amazing job. So Maureen, I mean, you have this amazing background. You, and I know we talked about this when we first met, your background in oncology hospice. And as an ICU nurse, tell me, share with us a little bit about what led you into that line of work?
Maureen Kures 03:59
Well, fate led led me into that line of work, Heather, you know, I graduated from nursing school. And there were no jobs for nurses. It was I was in California, and in the early 80s, I think in 84 jobs and dried up they had been giving $5,000 sign on bonuses this semester before I graduated. And ours they gave us a pat on the back and said Well, good luck. And I got my first job in an oncology on an oncology unit. And I thought, Oh my gosh, who wants to work there. I don’t want to work with dying people. That was scary to me. You know, my family. We didn’t talk about death. And we didn’t talk about any of that stuff. Even when my grandfather died. You know, it was just crying sad, but we didn’t talk about it. So I thought I could get my experience and get out of here as fast as I can. So one year was my was my goal. But what I didn’t know is that I would fall in love with the patients. I would fall in love with the families and I would fall in love The journey they were on. And it wasn’t always easy. But I found out that I, I liked being there. I like going on that journey with them. And so it’s sort of been interwoven the rest of my nursing career.
Heather Pearce Campbell 05:13
Yeah. Well, it does, I really feel like it does take a very special capable kind of person to do that work, especially with any longevity. And in, you know, in our family at a fairly young age, it was my, actually my first year of law school, my mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma. And so she ended up passing away, the actually the second month of my second year of law school, but that whole year, you know, we had our trials with her health and going through a surgery and then dealing with end of life issues. And, you know, at the very end, we had hospice in place, and we had nursing care, you know, coming into the home and helping with that transition. And I just remember being so profoundly touched by what a special place people who do that work, Phil, for those of us that need it, it’s a tremendous amount of support. And it just, there’s, you know, there’s there’s no replacement for that level of support and care when you need it at the most precious times.
Maureen Kures 06:20
You know, I am a raving fan of hospice. So I’m so glad your mom had hospice. Everyone does. And, you know, they hear hospice and they think death. That’s what happened with my dad, my mom heard hospice and she got death, and she wouldn’t have no part of it. And so he was on hospice for three days didn’t matter that I’d been a hospice nurse, it didn’t matter that I had done all that. But, you know, it is such a gift to the families and to the person that’s dying. It’s about quality of life versus quantity, but to live with quality at the end.
Heather Pearce Campbell 06:54
Well, and I think, to be escorted through that process by somebody who has experience with it, that has a level of comfort, and I’m not saying that it ever gets comfortable, but that has a level of knowledge and expertise and comfort with just knowing the process, I think, brings a lot of calm to families who are maybe facing that for the first time. You know,
Maureen Kures 07:19
you’re saying that and it takes me back to I was filling in for a shift and I walked into someone’s house to check. And the family had no idea that their family member was actively dying. Then I ended up staying for hours with them, because they they were oblivious to the fact I don’t know how they didn’t know they weren’t prepared well enough. But I was so grateful to be there with them that day. And I stayed until their their family member died. And it was such an honor and a privilege to be there with them, but to be able to escort them when they had no idea what that it was coming so soon. Yeah. So it’s it’s a challenging time. I mean, that was challenging for me that day, if I ever get used to someone dying and feel like no emotion around it. That’s a sad day for me, because there’s always emotion at this time.
Heather Pearce Campbell 08:14
Oh, yeah. Well, and even I’m sure even in oncology, you know, where some people probably make it through that phase. Okay. And others don’t it’s like a, you know, precursor to hospice. You know, we have a separate ICU experience here as well in our family because my daughter ended up in the nick you after being right, so we had the Nikki nurses, they’re all helping with her early days of life. But yeah, each of each of those times is just such a precious and strained time. It’s, you know, it’s it’s tremendously rewarding to see people like you in that line of work where, you know, I know people are getting the care and the support that they need.
Maureen Kures 09:00
We You know, I think that as you mentioned that your daughter was in ICU or people look at this last year that we’ve had, I mean, this last year, with, I think the real like heroes are those nurses and caregivers from everyone from the person lobby floor, to the nurses and ancillary staff caring for these people that ended up in the ICU that never knew they would be there and were unable to have the family members at their bedside. So that’s what just crushed me You know, that’s so important to have that support of those you love with you and not be able to have it so this has been a devastating year and I’m so hoping that we’re we truly have turned the corner and people are at least allowed to be in for short periods of time with your family. But those those nurses are just heroes in my book.
Heather Pearce Campbell 09:54
Oh, I agree. I you know, it changes your perspectives on career choice. cases on the level of pressure and stress that goes along with jobs who are not afforded the pay that should accompany that level of pressure and stress. I mean, even think of a janitorial service or something in the midst of the pandemic, the nature of their work completely changed. Like I can’t even imagine the level of fear and trepidation that it took just to gear up and you know, go do your your quote, unquote, regular work in the context of this whole new paradigm.
Maureen Kures 10:33
Oh, you know, I mentioned, people don’t realize it takes every person in the hospital from the person that has to clean that room every day to the person that delivers the meals to everyone that you the secretary. But early on, there was an interview of a man that had they didn’t think he was going to live through COVID. He was on a ventilator. And this is I always know, I’ve seen it so many times where people hear whether they’re alert or not, whether they’re in full coma, they still hear. And each day this woman went into his room to mop and clean, and she would talk to him up and that, that she was praying for him and I get teary just thinking about it. But he said he wanted to meet her because that was the voice he heard every day when his family and that woman pulled him through. And you know, each What? No, like I said, I get all teary. Yeah, those are those are the unsung heroes.
Heather Pearce Campbell 11:32
Yes, it’s, well, it’s true. And you know, whether it’s in the midst of the pandemic or not, you know, even regular normal medical crises, and I’ve had several of those in my life. There was a time before I had had my son, it was actually following my second miscarriage. And my body just wouldn’t miscarriage it was actually called a missed miscarriage. And I had to go in for a procedure where they, you know, removed the fetal tissue and all of that, but we had requested testing after that procedure. And normally, insurance won’t cover it unless you’ve actually had three miscarriages in a row. I wasn’t interested in waiting for the third. And so we had requested testing and said, we would pay for it out of pocket and all of that. And I had this doctor look at me and say, well, because I asked like, remember, this goes off to testing like, literally, I’m going under, like I can feel myself getting sleepy. And she says, well, we’ll try. Sometimes the kids end up at the wrong place like and I I must have just had this look of shock and bewilderment like, this is the last thing I’m being told before I’m being put under an anesthesiologist looked at me he was there and he could see what was happening. He goes, No, don’t worry, I will take care of this. Don’t worry, like, Don’t worry, I will make sure this happens. And I and that was the last thing I was told right before I literally going under and even that moment of panic, and then recovery. Like I just thought, Oh my gosh, so grateful for the people who care about doing it. Right, you know, and similar, but related another time I had to go under again, always very scary to have to go under anesthesia. And I had a nurse look me in the face and say, Don’t worry, we are going to take such great care of you. Right. And it was another scary procedure. And I just like you come out of those episodes, just feeling like what would I have done? Without that person? They’re, you know, like holding my hand and just telling me, it’s gonna be okay. Because your family’s not in the room. Nobody’s with you. You’re in this kind of weird, scary place. And you’re right that I mean, we have so many unsung heroes right now, from the janitors to the administrative staff that have to still show up and be in the hospital and be behind desks. And, you know, there’s so many folks whose lives have been just tremendously impacted by this. And I too, hope we’re rounding the corner. And it’s, I feel grateful that I don’t think we have the same level of panic and fear that existed, you know, at this time a year ago. But the potential for very real consequences is still the same. You know, it’s, and that’s the part that’s weird, is I think people are kind of acclimating to the stress level and acclimating to the fact that this will continue no doubt. And it’s, you know, that’s kind of a weird, new normal as well is. Yeah. So, talk to us about how you know, you come with this amazing background, you are obviously now channeling all of this experience into a mission that really feels like a mission, right? To get people talking about end of life care and taking the right steps to do the right things. How did you how did you come to this point of really getting into end of life care and planning Conversation facilitation.
Maureen Kures 15:03
I’ve, for 30 years I’ve been an advocate of getting your power of attorney documents in order for healthcare. I’ve seen too often people that didn’t have that, and they had no one that could legally speak for them. And there was a woman that I took care of. This was when I really became an outspoken advocate, everyone I knew I made sure they had powers of attorney for health care documentation done. She was 62, we’ve been playing tennis with her tennis group in the morning, took her 85 year old mother here to a doctor’s appointment, and then lunch, driving home slumped over the wheel of her car, and had a massive heart attack. And her mother had pulled her from the car did CPR as she’d seen it on TV. But this was in the, you know, early 90s. And not everyone had a cell phone in their hand. And by the time she got to us, she was on a ventilator. She had four kids, no husband. And she was on a ventilator heavily sedated. But after three days, she she wasn’t waking up when they took her off sedation. And what they found was that she was brain dead, they had to tell the family that this healthy, robust 62 year old mother and daughter of was brain dead and she was not going to wake up, it was just a devastating day. But that’s when the fighting started in that family. Because if you don’t your next of kin, if they’re your children, all children have to agree on what’s done. And I don’t think people realize that, that if they don’t all agree, then your wishes won’t be honored if you did not want to be on life support if you were brain dead. They and if one of them wants to keep you on your kept on life support Wow, on a ventilator. And that’s what happened to this woman, two of her kids wanted to take her off the ventilator and just let her die peacefully. And two of them pretty much were accusing their siblings of trying to murder their mother kill. And it just became this war zone. And back then she was with us for six and a half weeks on a ventilator. And we, you know, she until her heart just finally gave up, they had to do CPR on someone that was brain dead. And it was so awful today, they wouldn’t be you know, this day, they would transfer her to a rehab facility or something that that back then she was still in the ICU with us. And we were all devastated. And I said I will never let that happen to anyone I know in lung. I made me You know, my family, anyone over 18 you have to get your powers of attorney documentation done. And so that’s really been so important to me. But a couple years ago, it was through a chance conversation with someone that led me down this path. I kept resisting. I don’t want to do this. But it wasn’t until a woman walked up to me at church and wanted to talk to me after and I’m Catholic, and it was just Can I talk to you after mass? And so when we met up with each other, she said, Maureen, I’ve been praying and every time I pray, God tells me to talk to you in a sickie, what is this all about? Okay, well, she said, I’m so afraid my kids won’t honor my end of life wishes and I don’t know what to do about it. And I’m like, why are you talking to me about this? And she’s like, because God keeps telling me do? And I said, Do you know that I’m a nurse, and that I’ve worked mostly in end of life fields? No, and no idea. You are a nurse. And I said to you, because we were really just acquainted with him. And, and you know, so after that conversation, and we talked about some ways to handle it driving home, I thought, Oh, my God was I just hit upside the head with it. Or, you know, so that’s when I thought, okay, I’ve really got to start looking into this. And it really is my mission to see how people talk about it. You know, I’ve also been someone’s healthcare agent, which is the power of attorney or documents, as you know, but a lot of people think they’re called powers of attorney, but I was someone’s healthcare agent. And I didn’t know they never told me. And we had never talked about this until she had a medical crisis and couldn’t make decisions on her own. And well, I wasn’t the only one she chosen to have us a job. Oh, well, and we disagreed on what to do. And it was so challenging. That’s why I’m passionate about people having these conversations, so that everyone can be on the same page, but to have that legal person, that person that can legally speak on your behalf. So even if other people don’t want you to take it off life support, and you wouldn’t want to be in that position that the person has the legal right to speak for you.
Heather Pearce Campbell 19:40
Yeah, well, it’s you know, it’s just so unfortunate that we have to see the really really sad heavy stuff right in order to I think sometimes just as human beings be motivated to do what we should be doing and it’s you know, we we are quite pain avoidant, but I think so many Many of us just don’t anticipate the various ways that things can go awry, right. It’s just not what we spend time doing. And so, yeah, it’s I think it’s so important to have advocates like you talking about it, even though these stories are hard to hear, right? We hear these and we go, Oh, I don’t really want to think about that. And, you know, in my own scenario,
Maureen Kures 20:23
it really was think about die, you know, right. Yeah. I bet I do know that if it happens, I have everything written out now, in this great roadmap to my son’s like, Okay, if this happens, this is what I want you to do. We had had a big family meeting, well, before any of this was even a thought for me to do. And I told them all when they were leaving for school, they were all heading back to college. And I said, Okay, when you’re home at the holidays, I want a four hour block of your time I told my husband to we’re all sitting down. And I thought I’d get pushed back. But we had the best talk. They were like humoring me, I think that we talked about everything, I pulled out all of our estate, planning documents, and all of our financial documents, and I did this great life goes on roadmap with Nancy jetan. And I, so I had all of that, you know, everything out and I said, I want you to know from me what I would want, if this happens tomorrow, because my boys are all super close. And I don’t want your good relationship ruined. Because you disagree on what to do with me, if something happens to me, or something happens to me and your dad, you know, I don’t want you to have to make that decision, because I’ve already made it for myself and given to deal with it.
Heather Pearce Campbell 21:44
Well, and the reality is, we don’t like to think about this stuff. But we are already in our lives making decisions just like this. So for example, if any of us own and drive an automobile, we probably have car insurance for that if we own a home, we probably have homeowners insurance, right? We most certainly do if we have any loans, or mortgages related to that home. So we already are doing this in other ways in our lives. It’s it’s like insurance. It’s like saying if this terrible thing happens, I know I’ve got myself covered. And I’m protecting the relationships of those who I love that are left behind.
Maureen Kures 22:23
Yes, you know, how often I know, you’ve probably heard this bed. Just again, within the last six months, I’ve heard of a family that the siblings are suing their brother because he’s the executor. They feel like he’s stealing from their state. And I think it’s a state of the parents. And it was the brother that I I met and he’s like, oh, gosh, I don’t my siblings, I can’t no matter what documents I bring them. They feel as though I’m stealing from the estate. And I thought how terrible is that. But if everyone gathers together, they talk it out, they know where everything is, you know, I just spelled it all out for my kids. And then they’re all on the same page. And they know that nothing’s awry or miss.
Heather Pearce Campbell 23:09
Well, and I think it’s particularly important that the piece that you’re saying that I find really valuable is that, you know, putting these documents in place for yourself and you being the one delivering the message to your kids. It’s very different than trying to interpret a document on its face and on its own right, because I think there are a lot of scenarios like the one you’re talking about where this one son is the executor and the siblings think like, probably if I were to guess the parents didn’t sit down and say, Hey, this is how it’s gonna work
Maureen Kures 23:41
right now. Right? And that that left the children all very vulnerable. And the child that they chose is their executor that left him in just a terrible spot. Yes, yeah. Yeah. But it’s also fractured a family because of it. And that’s like, I never want that to happen. Just like my eight year old. It could have been so different.
Heather Pearce Campbell 24:06
Yeah, it could have been so different. And you know, there are real life reasons why families get fractured. You know, when you look at personality disorders, and all kinds of things that come up, I mean, you live in the medical world and so, these are no surprise to you, but there are real reasons why certain viewpoints are not reconcilable. And you know, no rational person is going to make them reconcilable. That said, if you have a parent saying, here’s what I want, delivering the same message with clarity to each of their like, it drastically reduces the chances that things are left up in the air misinterpreted, right. And so that’s, you know, that piece seems really really crucial the piece about not only doing the documents, but then having the tough conversation. Yeah, you know, it doesn’t even have to be you can make it fun, right? I’m saying tough because I think a lot of a lot of people perceive it as tough, right? they perceive it as like, Ooh, this conversation I don’t want to have.
Maureen Kures 25:08
Yeah, it is tough. I mean, I think, do I really want to sit down and talk to my kids about all this? Well, probably not. But it was so important to me because I thought, okay, now I’m on the other side of 55. And if something happens, and I want to, I want to make sure they’re prepared, or if something happens to their dad and I, well, we were traveling or even write together, you know, how many times have we heard about a car accident where both parents were killed? Or were you know, both were unable to make their own medical decisions? Yeah. So I just wanted them to have a game plan. You know, they I wanted them to have that roadmap. And that’s become my mission is talk to you families about it. It’s not easy. It’s, but it was probably the most powerfully rewarding conversation we had as family. My sons all started thinking, Well, wait, you know, we need we need to get our little finances in order. So you know how to deal with us and, and my one son, who played high school sports and had a couple of concussions, we found out that he wanted his brain donated to Boston University’s their big concussion study if he were to die, I would never have known that. Right. Yeah. So these these conversations, they’re hard, but they’re so valuable. And then you go on and eat the cake, drink the beer, whatever. It’s all over and that you all know, but I think by bringing everyone together, it’s one thing to talk one on one. Yeah. But we tend to tell different people different things. Like, I know, I’m handling my three sons personalities, I might say it in a different way, where we’re all in the same room, we can all hear it together, and then have conversations around it,
Heather Pearce Campbell 26:57
and have the chance to ask questions, you know, somebody hears it differently. They have the chance to talk it out right then in front of the other siblings. And I think that is very important.
Maureen Kures 27:06
Yes. Or if they don’t agree, yeah, you don’t. I don’t care if my son’s agree with my decisions. And this is what I want them to be able to honor and respect them. Yeah. And that’s what with families, getting them to be open minded enough that even if they don’t agree that they they will honor and respect their their loved ones wish, right? It’s huge.
Heather Pearce Campbell 27:34
let’s pause to hear from today’s sponsor. Today’s episode sponsor is both Pierce law pllc. Home to my legal practice here in Seattle, Washington, as well as the legal website warrior, an online business and brand dedicated to supporting the legal needs of information entrepreneurs. These include consultants, coaches, online experts, and educators, speakers, authors, industry leaders, influencers, transformational leaders, community builders, podcasters. People in this space go by a variety of titles. But essentially, their businesses look alike. They are building businesses based around a body of work and information that they have created. That gets delivered in a variety of ways, including generally through an online base, the home base in the online space. Thus, my branding, the legal website, warrior, I’m dedicated first and foremost, to protecting online brands, helping them stay safe, helping them navigate the legal rules that exist and apply to the online world, as well as take care of and protect the offline portion of their businesses as well. There’s so much that these entrepreneurs do in the offline work and their business as well. And there regardless of what you call yourself, regardless of what your business is about, you do not get to the position of scaling and growing and creating the influence that you want in the world and becoming an industry leader without essential legal support. So if you are in the space of information entrepreneurs that I serve, I would invite you to reach out and connect with me. You are also welcome to check out a free resource that I have built you can find it at legal website warrior.com forward slash legal basics boot camp, it is my free legal basics boot camp that I have prepared just for you so that you have the map what I find and let’s be clear that the traditional legal model tremendously underserved a certain portion of the small business community and that is why I’ve set about to create a set of resources, documentation, education, etc that supports people in this space. My legal basics boot camp is going to walk you through a framework that I developed that helps you understand the roadmap for your legal needs. This way you can stop cherry picking your needs in the dark without the map and start making decisions that have legal ramifications for your business. From the standpoint of being empowered from the standpoint of understanding what your legal priorities are, and being able to choose those intentionally, and knowing what they’re going to do for you and your business. So connect with me at legal website warrior comm forward slash legal basics boot camp where you can get my free resource. You can also find me online at Pierce law services calm, which is just an online space holder for Pierce law pllc, my legal practice based here in Washington State, again, congrats on your journey. I’m honored to have intersected your path and be a small part of it through hosting this podcast. And if I can support you in any way, reach out. Okay, back to today’s amazing guest. At what age do you think it’s appropriate for people to start thinking about end of life care, because I can imagine there’s a lot of people kind of in this middle ground where they they think they’re not quite there yet. And they actually are,
Maureen Kures 31:25
right, you know, I say age 18. Once you legal adults, you need your own. Maybe not a full estate plan, but a power of attorney for health care power of attorney for finance, you know, if something happens, trying to close down a young person’s apartment, let’s just without having someone that can legally do that is tough. So 18 is best age my my boys like what? Why are you making a sign these documents? Well, but and then, really, by the age of 50, at the very latest to start getting this in order, but when you you know, there’s so many different times of life to look at full estate planning. Yeah. When you start having a family, you know, guardianship for your children. Yes, that’s huge. You know, my, I was living in South Carolina, and I was at the park with my two little boys age one and two, and an A and A neighbor. And we ran into this woman whom I did not know. But when she left, my friend was telling me her kids are having her nieces and nephews that her sister and brother in law were killed in a traffic accident, no guardianship setup. And those kids became Ward’s of the state and were put into foster care until it could be decided. Because the families both wanted them, no one can agree on who took the kids. And I went right home, started calling estate planning attorneys and my husband came home from work and I said, we have an appointment on this Thursday, and you better be there. I don’t care what I don’t care about anything except who’s gonna raise my kids have something like that? Our kids so? So that’s a long answer. But, you know, I really think that when you start a family, that’s another time but by age 50, less than 50% of people 50 and older, have any kind of end of life planning done. And when I talk about end of life planning, I’m talking about, you know, that healthcare power of attorney and the advanced directives, which is known as the living will, which spells out what to do, and that’s what I am passionate about, but I’m passionate about getting all of your estate planning in order, you know, right for your family. No,
Heather Pearce Campbell 33:41
I agree. It’s, um, you know, and i, you and I have talked numerous times, and you know, about my work and how I help entrepreneurs. But, you know, one of the things is, like, if you are building a business, you’re building a family, like you sure as heck better make sure that, you know, whatever comes next for whoever’s left is taken care of, and it’s, it’s challenging to think about, but the alternatives and, you know, thinking of some recent stories here in the Seattle area, like, even when you said 50, I was surprised, I thought you would say earlier, I mean, and I know obviously 18 is ideal, and you know, speaking from personal experience, my sister died really young in a car accident, she was 25 and there’s so much that you have to take care of that, you know, and and these days from somebody digital and online assets and all kinds of account. I mean, there’s there’s just so much that simple documentation would help with even if you don’t go talk to an attorney and do all the things right if you are responsible enough to do some of the basics it it’s hard to think about and it’s so important to think about because this day and age, there really is so much to take care When somebody passes,
Maureen Kures 35:02
there is so much and it takes away from the ability to just grieve, because we’re going to grieve no matter what, but to grieve with debilitating grief or or prolonged grief, because you’re trying to deal with all of this stuff than they will and even
Heather Pearce Campbell 35:22
Yes, huge is huge. And to wonder about really important things like, did they want something donated? Did they want to be a donor? Did they write simple things that if you’d had the conversation, of course, nobody expects to die in their 20s? Oh, right. And so people probably are not having these conversations until much later. But, you know, just thinking through that, and having a simple plan and talking with your family about it, and sharing that documentation, I think can just save so much heartache. There was a recent couple actually, that was shared inside of the story was shared inside of one of my mom, like mom, Attorney groups, that’s the Seattle area group. And just like you said, This couple that died, both parents died and left behind two or three children, one of her best girlfriends was also another attorney in this group, who was suddenly scrambling trying to figure out how to obtain guardianship over these kids how to, you know, help transition this, this little family out of a complete disaster. And it’s like, oh, your heart just breaks because I’m sure they were young. And that sounds like the kids were very young. And you know, it’s puts people in such a pinch such a bind, trying to go through this process.
Maureen Kures 36:42
It does. And you know, it puts people in a bind. If something happens, you were just reminding me that if something happens, you know, to try to get legal guardianship of an adult, let’s say it’s hard. It’s expensive time that you’re going through drama, trauma, and chaos and grief and trying to figure it all out, and you’re trying to scramble and get anyone to give you answers, you know, finding out where their bank is where, you know, dealing with the IRS, trying to get anything to support you getting guardianship of them as a person so that you make their decisions legally and financially. It’s something that people shouldn’t have to go through, be able to sit there and love on their family member that’s going through this. That’s right.
Heather Pearce Campbell 37:33
What so let’s talk a little bit about the scope of what you consider, you know, the phrase getting your affairs in order, right, we hear this what what’s in that bucket? What do you consider getting your affairs in order to include or to be,
Maureen Kures 37:46
I think, getting your affairs in order. First off, you know, like, we were just talking about the powers of attorney documents, state planning documents, your living will, but it’s more than that. It’s your funeral planning, you know, plan, it costs money to die, and to pay to get a body out of the morgue, you know, so to have a funeral budget, or funeral insurance, things like that, to get your financial affairs in order, you don’t have to have a lot of money, but to just get them in order, so that you can so that you don’t leave a financial hardship for your family. Yeah, the next thing is, you know, saying what needs to be said, you know, telling people how you feel about them. A lot of them legacy, write letters, if you know you’re dying, write letters to the people that mean a lot to you call them and tell them ask for forgiveness. There’s so much in there, but I think so getting your affairs in order, besides just the the legal documentation is things like I said, burial insurance. But taking care of any unresolved issues, your affairs in order, and asking for forgiveness. Those are huge at the end of life.
Heather Pearce Campbell 39:05
Well, and that’s Yeah, that could be a whole separate conversation. I feel like that, you know, that’s, I love that you widen the scope of it, because it reminds me there was another podcast guest I had on the night I’d asked him what prompted he’s in the financial services industry. And I asked him what prompted his career, right? Why was he interested in financial services? And he said that he I think he was in college at the time. And he his grandfather had passed, and he went to the cemetery to visit his gravestone. And there was no gravestone. Yeah, and this was like, quite some time after the services. And he had asked his mom like, Mom, what’s going on? Why is there no gravestone for grandpa and she and she had said he couldn’t afford one. And he’s like, Well, why didn’t it Why didn’t we buy him one and she’s like, I paid for the entire service and everything else right. And He, like he said, It was literally in that moment where he, he decided he wanted to help people live better so that they could die better. Right? Right now, isn’t that interesting, he was a young kid and recognize that
Maureen Kures 40:15
people don’t realize that there’s so much to dying. Yeah. And the more that we can plan, you know, we plan for everything. We plan for our weddings, we plan for high school and college graduation, and we plan for the annual holiday party. But we don’t plan for the one thing that is certain to happen in our lives. You know, there’s no getting around it, we’re all gonna die someday. We just you don’t even have to pay your taxes. You know, they say death and taxes, but we don’t even have to pay our taxes, they’ll catch up with us maybe, but we don’t actually have to pay them. But we will die someday, that there’s just no getting out of it. If someone said, we don’t get out of this life alive. But the more clear we can make that our wishes known, the more we can repair, and plan and plan out so that our families aren’t stuck paying for our funerals. And you know, here in the Seattle area. Basic cremation is between 15 $102,000 I think, but funerals can be upwards of $50,000, for the whole thing, at the most expensive funeral homes if you’re having a full burial and all of that, but I don’t think people realize that. And to, you know, my goal would be that never to never have another GoFundMe for funerals, but that won’t happen. I know. But people just don’t realize,
Heather Pearce Campbell 41:41
well, and I think that’s the thing, unless they have been shown the details, or had to walk through it with the loss of a family member or a friend, right? They don’t have the first hand knowledge of knowing like, Oh, this is how I should plan for this. Without these types of conversations, right? And that’s so interesting that you talk about the the surprising expense of a funeral, because it’s so much more than just it’s, you know, can really be quite a sum of money. What, what do you wish people who are are hesitant? And I think this will take us to the other side of the conversation of like, what’s the benefit, right of taking care of this? Because I think that that’s what we all want to get to is obviously the peace of mind. And I can only describe it in my life as peace of mind. We were sharing a little bit before I hit record, about how it took me until I think my son was about two years for us to get our estate planning documents in place. And I’m an attorney, right. And I knew, like I should have had those probably before we even went off to the hospital to have to have our baby boy. But once we kind of done Oh, it was just such a sigh of relief like it. You know, the process wasn’t fun. We paid the money, we got the documents done. But it was just invaluable. Once we had them. I could look at my hubby and be like we did it. We did it. Yes, we may have to revisit these and update them and make sure we keep them current and all of that good stuff. But they’re done. And we can at least rest easy knowing nobody’s going to be wondering, you know, what is your plan?
Maureen Kures 43:24
Yeah, it is. Like you said peace of mind. My goal is family unity at the end of life. And that families aren’t divided. And as you’re saying that I one of the families that I worked with, there were six boisterous, opinionated kids. And we worked together because their mom was showing early signs of dementia. And she wouldn’t know that at all. And, and the woman that brought me in, she said, I want us all to know how to deal with this. I want us to be on the same page. Well, we had this great, Well, a couple great meetings together. But it was their dad that took it down here. He’ll die really unexpectedly and quickly. And I just heard not too long ago that because of them all hearing, pulling their dad in hearing his Oh, if this ever happens to me, this is what I would want. I wouldn’t want to be in the hospital when they had taken him to the hospital. They wanted to do all of this treatment, when but they had all heard, I wouldn’t want that if there’s no hope for full recovery. And so he’s actually at home on hospice now. And they’re at home, you know, during a time of COVID she said we’re so grateful that he’s not in the hospital where we can’t all their big boisterous loving family. And so they’re all there and loving on him and he’s been with them through this journey rather than isolated in a hospital or dying. in a hospital, which he did not want to do. So that is such the benefit of this and being able to have that, you know, we’re here with them, we were able to hold his hand were able to love on him, we thought it was gonna be mom that we were dealing with, but to have that peace of mind that they know they’re carrying out his wishes, has been so huge for them.
Heather Pearce Campbell 45:24
And that’s just it peace of mind that you are carrying out your loved ones wishes because, you know, we might like you pointed out, we might feel differently than they do about what we would actually want done. But that changes as soon as you know what they want done. Right? If they’re truly a loved one, you you want to generally honor what they’ve said. And so to the extent that that’s clear, and they’ve communicated it, it makes the decision making so much easier, like what a burden to be removed from the shoulders of those six children,
Maureen Kures 45:55
you know, it has been such a gift. And it’s you know, it’s a gift that we do give our families that clear, concise directions.
Heather Pearce Campbell 46:02
Oh, I love that as a as a as a concept of the gift.
Maureen Kures 46:06
I have to tell you this real quick. I tell my clients that I work with, I want you to review this annually, you make it your birthday present to yourself as town just take an hour to you know, do I still have the proper people in place? Has there been anyone I wanted to add to the contact list or any passwords that I need to change whatever, you know, go through the whole thing. And that I was I was talking to a woman I was actually on another podcast. And she’s like, my parents have what they call their death planner weekend. And they do it every year. They have their whole planner, with all their estate planning where everything is and they take a weekend away. And they go and they book a hotel room somewhere where they want to travel, they order in and have a bottle of wine and they drink their wine. They review it all on Friday night. And then they go and have a fabulous weekend at a destination that they wanted to visit. So they check something off their bucket list and they get their death planning weekend done. And I thought Isn’t that great? You know, it’s just a great way to do it.
Heather Pearce Campbell 47:12
Right? No, it sounds amazing. It actually gives me goosebumps because like just even that little vignette. I feel like by doing that you’re really allowed to live Yeah, right are you can fill up you can like show up fully in your life, knowing that you’ve taken care of those important details. Even just you know, the next day on that very same weekend, just the relief and the peace that you would have knowing that you have checked the box, you’ve done the thing.
Maureen Kures 47:41
Yeah, and that, and they make it fun. And I think that any good plan that makes it smooth, you know, if you plan your wedding and everything, even though it’s planned, you have someone to take care of it, then you can go and thoroughly enjoy yourself. Yeah, and that’s like with life if we have our plans done for end of life, then we can thoroughly enjoy our life and, and to celebrate. Hmm,
Heather Pearce Campbell 48:04
I love that. What in your experience? What are the best ways to open that conversation? Right? So I’m sure people can feel very differently even about having the conversation. How How do you coach people around inviting them into that conversation?
Maureen Kures 48:23
Well, I think we one of the gifts of COVID I’m gonna bring COVID back up because I you know, we’ve all at this point a year plus in we’ve probably all known of someone if we didn’t know them personally, we know of someone that’s died doing COVID that’s the perfect conversation starter. Oh my gosh, you know, my friend, Kathy’s daughter is in the hospital on a ventilator right now. And can I talk to you about what I would want? Or mom, my friend’s mom just died of COVID? What can I talk to you about what you would want so I could honor your wishes, I had to have that conversation with my mom. She was diagnosed with COVID and my mom who doesn’t like to talk about death or end of life, I’m your agent but and she would not talk a lot about what she you know, I have it all in my estate planning, you know, basics, like mom. So I called her and I said okay, we have to have that candid conversation now mom, we can’t wait any longer because five hours from now you can not be breathing well. I need to know what you want. She’s 84 super active and luckily sailed through it. But the other thing if if someone Uncle Joe, you know, gosh, Uncle Joe died. It made me think I want to do right by you. What would you want if you were diagnosed with cancer like Uncle Joe, it’s just as simple as that. But it’s as hard as that to Yeah. It’s simple and hard at the same time. The other conversation that’s important to have is the color conversation with your physician. I’m more physicians. doctors don’t like to talk about this any more than anyone else. And being married to a physician, I know this to be true, even though he is pretty good at the end of life step, but, you know, it’s hard for them to so to give them a clear roadmap that, hey, when I get to this, I get to this point, I don’t want you to do life sustaining treatment for being right. I want to be home. My husband had to have a big lung surgery two years ago. Oh, wow. Day, his first day, post op, we were walking, you know, three times we walked through the hospital floor that day, the first time there was a older gentleman. And he my husband was in the ICU, and he was on a ventilator with his family all crowded around him. And I thought, Oh my gosh, he’s dying in the hospital on a ventilator. I cuz I don’t know why the curtains weren’t drawn, but and you know, everyone’s gathered around. Then after lunch, we walked in, everyone was out in the hall crying, except for the wife and maybe a daughter at his bedside crying and the heart monitor was still going. And then we walked after dinner and the room was empty. All the machines were out. And I just thought, No, it’s been like that. No, it should not have been like that. That’s what crushed me when I worked in the ICU. I thought they should be at home, or at least in a setting where everyone can be they’re not hooked to machines not hooked you. But some people choose that. And that’s okay. When we don’t know and we haven’t talked about it, and that happens that it makes me so sad.
Heather Pearce Campbell 51:41
It is so sad. And it’s that’s that’s the part if if it’s not what they chose, it’s so sad, right?
Maureen Kures 51:48
But it’s okay if they choose it. That’s so that’s the honoring whether we agree or not, because there are many people that want everything, right.
Heather Pearce Campbell 51:55
That’s right. That’s right. My my mother in law was such a fighter. She struggled with stage four breast cancer for like 20 years. She you know, years and years and years of cancer support and, and even at the end, I was just amazed at how strong willed she was literally right up until it was like two or three days before she died. I think she just knew I think it was a choice. And I think she because we learned later that she had called friends and said, You know, I’m not going to see you again. I’m not going to talk to you again. I’m just calling to say goodbye. And they were like on a road trip or something. And but she wanted all the things done. She wanted all the support. She wanted to try try try try try right up until the very end. What your mom was young. My This was my This was my, my husband’s mother. Yes, that’s right. Yeah. And she still was too young. She still she still ended up passing away in her late 60s. Right. But still way too young.
Maureen Kures 52:58
Wait, yeah, my best friend died of cancer at age 44. And she wanted everything done. She had two young kids and she wanted everything done that her and she fought till the bitter end.
Heather Pearce Campbell 53:10
Right. And and if you know that, and you’re a family member, I think it you can bear those final moments in the hospital more easily than you could if you weren’t sure that’s how they wanted to go.
Maureen Kures 53:21
Yeah. And we had had many conversations around it about quality of life versus quantity. But she had 11 and 14 year old and she’s like, I want I want to live I will do everything. Yeah. And for them. Yeah. It wasn’t in the cards, but you know, then you have to honor that honor. And I wasn’t in the decision making process. But as her friend, you know, I had to sit back and support her in that. Yeah. Right. That’s what it gives us. So
Heather Pearce Campbell 53:46
it does, yeah, that piece, which is really, I think the greatest thing we can take away from any of our actions in support of somebody, you know, end of life experiences. Are we at peace with knowing we did what we could to honor what they wanted? Right? Well, Maureen, you know, there’s so much more we could talk about on this topic. And I love it, it’s hard. And it’s so essential, and especially at a time like this. I mean, you’re, you’re talking to people and I’m sure listeners are all going to relate to the fact that most of us either know somebody or multiple people directly that have passed away during this time of COVID or have close loved ones or friends that have experienced that loss. And so it is a it is a very very pertinent relevant conversation. COVID are not and there are ways to have it that feel good and feel healthy and get you know, get the job done, and will get us to the other side feeling good about you know, having completed that. What can sometimes feel like a big thing on our list. Yeah, and
Maureen Kures 54:50
you know, it can be there should be humor around around it. Let’s face it, let’s make it humorous and find that it’s not so hard to do. With So,
Heather Pearce Campbell 55:00
well an easier to make it humorous and fun when you are in a state of mind to really, you know, have the flexibility to be thinking about it and not in a position of being forced to think about it,
Maureen Kures 55:12
and making decisions strictly on emotions, right? You’re not evil. And that’s the one thing I think that everyone should realize. Even if it’s unplanned, there’s directly on emotions, it’s okay to take that step back and take a deep breath and think, what would they have wanted? What would you know, sometimes you have to go on what would I want if I’m in their shoes, and that’s okay, too, but to, to not just make the rash decisions on pure mentioned to just step back and, and take that deep breath and think, what would they have wanted? They knew they would be here. Yeah, no, I
Heather Pearce Campbell 55:46
love that. Well, I’m so I’m such a fan of who you are. As a person. I love this area of work. Because, you know, our family has experienced tragedy. And we have, you know, been through the kind of tragedy where we had time to plan and the kind where we don’t have time to plan. And it’s just so important that people think about this stuff. For folks that are wondering, you know, how do they connect with Maureen? How did they find out more about your services, because you help people in a variety of ways with their end of life planning and care and coaching conversations, you know, families around how to have conversations about this topic? Where do you like for people to find you online?
Maureen Kures 56:27
Well, I, if you go to start the talk now.com, you can download my free giveaway to speaking of dying series, seven prompts to get the conversation started. And my website is radiant Morning Morning, spelled with a u.com. And, you know, one of the things I do every month besides put on workshops, but I do do a free advanced care planning webinar just to end it’s usually the first Thursday of every month. So it’s always listed on my website. And it just is an overview of what it is and why it’s important and how to approach it.
Heather Pearce Campbell 57:05
I love that. And for listeners, be sure to check out Maureen’s links, I will have them all in the show notes. So you can find them at legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast, look for Maureen’s episode. Maureen, what final thoughts would you like to leave our listeners with?
Maureen Kures 57:24
Get it done, get it done, have some fun around it. Get your end of life planning done. And it’s not scary once you really start the process. Sometimes the hardest thing is writing your name on the document. Yes, you can take off from there. So you’ll have a lot of peace of mind once once it’s done.
Heather Pearce Campbell 57:41
Well, and that is the truth. Maureen reminded me right before you went live of something that I had told her and then forgotten about, which is I had a near death experience as part of my IVF journey and literally as I was going out the door, I apparently had two thoughts. One was, my paperwork is done. I don’t have to worry about that. It was all on a file. My husband knew where it was like we were good to go. And two, you know, I was really determined I wasn’t going anywhere. But in the back of my mind. I was thinking if I did, it’s done. And it was very, I mean, so much peace of mind just knowing like, well, we’re off to the hospital, see, see how this goes. But I don’t have to worry about that piece. And that would be a terrible feeling as a mom, not having had that taken care of even when I thought I really wasn’t going anywhere. I knew something terrible was happening. I was losing all my blood into my abdomen. Yeah, it was it was dramatic, to say the least. But the peace of mind is really real and extremely pertinent in those moments of crisis, which never really at some point happened to all of us. So Maureen, thank you. Always a pleasure to see you. This is such a valuable conversation and I really am grateful for you to be here sharing this with me and my listeners.
Maureen Kures 59:05
Well thank you Heather. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I always enjoy my time with you.
Heather Pearce Campbell 59:09
Awesome. If you’re still listening check out the show notes at legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Appreciate you take good care and we will talk to you next time.
GGGB Outro 59:22
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