“Recognize that you are mortal; you are not living forever.” Patrick Willis
Death talks hold some eerie atmosphere around them. On top of that, superstitions add to it by giving the feeling that something bad will happen if you talk or even think about it. Hence, many individuals prefer to set this topic aside. Nevertheless, the fact still remains: We are mortal beings; we all end up in the grave. Thus, being prepared for that day is beneficial. Today, Patrick Willis will enlighten us on the why’s and how’s of planning for the unexpected. The death of a loved one is the most painful human experience. But it can be much more bearable if we can take away any unnecessary burdens that come with the loss.
Listen to the podcast here:
03:50 Following The Path
09:06 Preparation For The Unexpected
19:00 Being Too Emotional
22:10 Point Of Acceptance
28:01 What People Don’t Expect While Being Terminally Ill
36:06 Myths Of Death
42:00 Death As Being Normal
Prepare for everything, even death- especially death. Learn why and how with @myexpectation and Patrick Willis in their heart to heart talk about #planning #preparation #acceptance #grieving #death Click To Tweet
“When you follow the path that life sends us down and you don’t miss a turn in it, you keep exploring everything with the possibilities of it, then everything becomes possible.” – Art Costello
“Doing something simple like some mindfulness and dropping an anchor to steady yourself in the emotional storm. The storm never goes away. It just means you could ride the waves a little.” – Patrick Willis
“Recognize that you are mortal; you are not living forever.” Patrick Willis
“A person who is dying comes to terms with their own situation far more rapidly than their family does, far more rapidly.” – Patrick Willis
“Keep in contact after the funeral. Keep in contact because it is extremely important because that’s when you are the loneliest and you feel alone.” – Art Costello
“The wound may heal, but the scar will never go away.” – Patrick Willis
“You never forget your spouse or your loved ones…but you learn to live with it, and you learn to process how you deal with it.” – Art Costello
“When we get to a point of accepting, we realize that the life we have today is a gift. We’re thankful for the gift we have today, and we just accept each day as it comes to us. Our quality of life will just go up.” – Patrick Willis
“Live every day to the best of your ability and make it the happiest day of your life.” – Art Costello
Patrick Willis was an engineer for years. He worked as an IT and ended up running very large systems and projects. He was pretty good at the whole corporate world, but later on, he decided to volunteer at a local hospice and offer counsel to help people with terminal illnesses. Now, Patrick is very passionate about what he does. With his End of Life Preparation Course, he helps loved ones from many of the emotional, practical and financial difficulties when someone unexpectedly dies. He saw the need to fill the gap of helping others with their ‘unfinished business’ at the end of life to make the most of the rest of their lives.
Art Costello: Welcome to the Shower Epiphanies Podcast, today my guest is Patrick Willis. Patrick is seeing the turmoil of level one’s coping with life threatening illness. Patrick realized that the medical system rarely equips them for the mental battle. Seeing this, Patrick designed a program to help those diagnosed with life limiting illnesses live their best possible life. He work pioneers a unique approach covering everything needed to compliment medicine from mindset shifts to household checklists to leave the best legacy. Patrick saw that much of the work he was doing is preparation needed by everyone, so he developed resources to enable anyone to get prepared to protect their family if the worst happened. Patrick became a business owner in 2016 finally escaping the corporate greasy pole. He is the father of five beautiful children, a leader in a local church, and a folk and jazz musician among other things. Welcome to the show Patrick, it is a pleasure having you here all the way from the United Kingdom.
Patrick Willis: Thank you, Art, thank you. That’s great. Yes, I’m really glad to be here.
Art Costello: It has been near and dear to my heart what you do. Because in 2006, I lost my wife of 38 years and I will tell you, nothing prepared me. Even though I knew her diagnosis of ovarian cancer was going to be terminal, I kept saying to myself, you know, I’m prepared. I’m going to prepare myself. I’m going to get through this. But the night that she died in my arms, I learned I was not prepared.
Patrick Willis: That’s a gut punch a hundred times over, isn’t it?
Art Costello: Oh, boy. It is. It is. So can you tell us your story, how this all worked out?
Patrick Willis: I will. Yeah. I mean, in some ways I’m not of likely character to be doing this. I’m really not, Art. I mean, I’m a techie at all an engineer by background, so I don’t come from the caring professions that I don’t have a kind of a medical degree or a therapy degree. There’s a lots of therapy studies since, so I wasn’t expecting to be doing this. It’s funny how life does that to you sometimes, isn’t it? It really is.
Art Costello: Oh, it is. It’s amazing how things just when you follow the path that life sends us down and you don’t miss a turn in it, you keep exploring everything with the possibilities of it, then everything becomes possible.“When you follow the path that life sends us down and you don't miss a turn in it, you keep exploring everything with the possibilities of it, then everything becomes possible.” - Art Costello Click To Tweet
Patrick Willis: Yeah. Essentially, I just did what a lot of people do. You know, you study, you go to college, you got a good job, and you know, I was an engineer for years, I worked in IT, I ended up running very large systems and projects. Know the ones you kind of hear about the news that lose millions and billions of dollars, those sorts of projects, I did a lot of those sorts of projects. But I was pretty good at the whole corporate drone thing, and climbing the pole, and whatnot, and finally got an opportunity to break out of it. And it took me a long time, I think because again, as you mentioned, I had five kids and suddenly you’ve got all this, these dependents who kind of rely on your income. And so breaking out of that was something I already wasn’t prepared to take the risk of doing. And now that kind of all grownup, it was probably, you know, again about five years ago, now I started thinking, okay, I need to get out of this. So I did, I got some opportunities to get a bit of surplus income wise together and then stopped what I was doing and have a good look around. And it took me awhile to find it because I thought, okay, I’d like a lifestyle kind of job now where I can have my laptop and work from anywhere, and all the boxing gurus to palliate a steer to follow them by three steps and it just happens, isn’t it? Well, you know what, it’s not quite as easy as that, as we all find out when we actually try and do it. And I thought I’d use my technical skills and whatever. It really wasn’t very satisfying I was making progress. But I thought, well, I’m not that passionate about this. And you know, one day, and this was one day and it was back in, as I said, mentioned, it was not that long ago, it was three, four years ago now. And I was walking along near where I live, and you know, I go out there to pray, and meditate, and think, you know, sunshine, walk around my village,and this idea drops in my head about supporting people at the End of Life. And we just kind of dropped that I thought, where did that come from (laughs)?
Art Costello: And that’s what I call an epiphany.
Patrick Willis: So yeah.
Art Costello: When it comes from above and down on you, that’s an epiphany.
Patrick Willis: I’m sorry, Maddie was in the shower, I’m so sorry about that. I was walking by a little stream and my house was in the [inaudible]. I could’ve fallen in the stream with that point, I tell you. And I thought, that’s so crazy. And I was convinced, I’ll tell you now, I mean, I’m a Christian, I believe in a higher power, and I thought there’s no way I could have thought that up on my own. I would never see myself doing that. So, okay, what are we going to do? So I thought, well, okay, yes, I had some brushes with death, my wife had stage three cancer. It was back in 2000, 2006, 2007, thankfully she recovered and she’s still alive now, which is great. I’ve seen both my parents through end of life issues, and so, I wasn’t unfamiliar with it, but it was this strange prodiga, I had to go visit with this. I thought, what should do I know. So I started volunteering in a local hospice and offering counseling to people at the End of Life as they’re going in as the spiritual support person [inaudible]. And I found out that I actually was quite good at it, and it didn’t bother me. I talked to some people out, some people you talk to and it’s great, and other people will go, how the heck could you do that, man? And I found out that I could.
Art Costello: Well, that’s a gift. That’s a gift.
Patrick Willis: Yeah. And they already felt that, it really did. Like they wanted to see myself doing it, but then I thought, okay, great. I could do this. What’s next? So then I thought, well, I’ve got coaching skills. I know how to coach, let’s fill in the gaps that I’ve got around specific end of life issues. And so, I started to fill those in and took additional training so I felt comfortable to support people, coaching them specifically around things that would come up around End of Life. And the realities are, you’ll know this, I cannot say, I know how you feel because I don’t, I’m not you and I can’t say that. But what I can do is, I could see, yeah, people in your situation commonly have these kind of issues they’d like to work through and that’s what I do. And then as you mentioned in my bio, a lot of the preparation stuff is for all of us and we’re not smart if we don’t do it, especially if we have dependents, any children, partners and so forth.
Art Costello: It is true. I mean, you know, personally speaking, I know that after my wife passed away about, and I’m not joking, six months, everything was a blur. You know, I can not tell you who was at my wife’s funeral. I have no clue because I was so fogged out. You know with that, unless you’ve experienced it, it’s just no way to describe it. The emptiness, the abandonment, I mean, you go to so many different emotions when you lose somebody. Tell us what, can you kind of give us just a synopsis of some of the things that you go through to help people prepare?
Patrick Willis: Yeah, I will do. I mean, there’s two sides to this Art. There’s the side that applies to somebody who kind of knows they’re facing end of life, and then the rest of us. And so, there’s just two different paths that puzzle. So, if I do what applies to all of us, perhaps that’s the easy one on the way. What you all need to do.
Art Costello: Yeah. Cause one of the questions I had for you is, I’ve had friends when I was in Vietnam, in the Marines, when you lose somebody unexpectedly, it’s totally different than when you lose somebody that you know that got an illness or anything. But like car accidents, and war, and any of those things, you know, I mean, it could be a slip on the sidewalk. I mean, you know, and you can hit your head and pass away, you know?
Patrick Willis: I tell my story to people, Art. Yeah, I hear that more and more, they’ll pretty much, everybody knows somebody who died unexpectedly. Pretty much everybody knows somebody who has been in that position.
Art Costello: How do you prepare for the unexpected? I write about it in my book, you know how I described preparing for the unexpected is you have to prep yourself. You always have to have him back in your mind in this tucked away space that if this happens, this happens. This is what I do and this is how I go. And I know it sounds morbid and weird, but if you don’t do it when you have something unexpected happen, you’re totally unprepared and you’re lost.
Patrick Willis: Yeah. Let’s take the easy one first. Let’s do something like the practical things if you’d like, because frankly, if you get those nailed, as you said, if you’re in that situation, your head’s all over the place. You don’t know what’s going on. So you’re not thinking about paying the bills, you’re not thinking about, you know, contacting people. So if you get that stuff nailed, it’s just gonna make the difficult stuff a little bit easier. So there are four parts of that. There’s what you might ever would think of as estate planning, having a will, having a power of attorney insurance, all that financial stuff, which some people have got, a lot of people know they should have when they don’t. But that one is estate planning. Then there’s all the practical stuff. How many passwords have you got for websites? The last count I had about 350. What if your partner, if you died, what if I need to get in there? What if I need to get into your bank account? What if I need to get to pay the bills? All that stuff. Just simple stuff for running the household and having the documents in place and access to assets. So, maybe you’ve got a lot of photographs online. You know, people want to, you know, you wouldn’t want to lose those because someone doesn’t know about them. Maybe you’ve got, you know, your Bitcoin wallet, if you’re a cryptocurrency dude, or you’ve got coins under the sofa, you know, who knows. But there’s that practical stuff with that. Just that list of, here’s the stuff you need to know that I’ve been managing. And then there’s the personal stuff about you. So your health and wellbeing, what you might know as a health care directive, or power of attorney ,and that stuff causes so much family pain. If somebody is unexpectedly comes in a coma, or is unable to make decisions themselves, that causes so much grief in families if wishes aren’t clear. So much grief.
Art Costello: Yeah. And not only do you have to have this stuff available, but you also have to keep it current because life changes all the time, and you know, you add passwords, you know, and you deduct people out of your life that you don’t want it in there. I mean–
Patrick Willis: Yeah.
Art Costello: –there are all kinds of stuff, scenarios that go on, so you’ve got to keep it all current.
Patrick Willis: You do. Yeah. I mean, it’s good to look at this stuff once a year, but as a minimum, you want to look at stuff whenever there’s a major life events, some kind of happenings, you know, maybe one of your, birth of a child, or someone leaves home, divorce, whatever. Some major life event is a trigger to go and just review all this stuff once you’ve got it set up. But getting a set of in the first place is kind of 80% of the battle done, so that’s good. And a lot of this is actually about the conversations around it as well. So you may well have written down somewhere, you know, I want this to happen to me, and I want that, and I don’t want this kind of treatment or whatever. But if you haven’t talked to somebody about it, either a power of attorney if you’ve got one, or your partner, or will be your next of kin. If they don’t know your wishes and understand that really well, then it’s not enough. The conversation and the documentation have to go together, Art.
Art Costello: Have you created a format for this?
Patrick Willis: Yeah, I do, I do. I’m surprise that I do.
Art Costello: Let me ask a funny question here. Did your engineering background come into play with the development of this?
Patrick Willis: Oh, guess what it did. Oh, God man. Oh yeah.
Art Costello: Because I happened to know that engineers are highly structured people and highly methodical, so I could only assume that–
Patrick Willis: You found me out, man, you found me out. That’s true. But you know what? Engineers can be slow in getting stuff right as well. And so, it’s very much a work in progress. When I worked one on one with people, I take them through it, but I would try to get a whole course in the can at the moment of it, and it’s not quite in the Canyon. It’s a work in progress but not quite in the Canyon. So one on one I am ready to do, I do with people, yeah, I want to have a completely online version guides, google work through it in their own time, and they give me a, drop me online if they’ve got a problem, in email and so forth, but mostly doing their own pace. But that’s still a work in progress. It should be done by now.
Art Costello: No, you know, I mean, it’s not like you, with five kids and a wife, and everything, that you don’t have other things that occupy your time.
Patrick Willis: No distractions at all. Absolutely not, and that’s right, yeah. And I test some of this stuff, my wife as well, I was sat in the car with her a little while ago, and I’ve got a — kind of a handout tool which is to, a bunch of like, would I want this type of treatment questions, and it’s like 10 questions in, and this is a preview of the website so you are welcome to take it. But the idea is that you answer the questions for yourself, and then you answer the questions for the other person, and how you think they would respond. And then you kind of swap and see if you’ve got each other right.
Art Costello: Wow.
Patrick Willis: It’s really simple but effective way of getting those, and my wife gets the stuff tested on her, you know, she doesn’t seem to mind.
Art Costello: My wife spent one day in hospice and that was because my wife’s wish was that she’d come home to our ranch and that she died at home.
Patrick Willis: Yeah.
Art Costello: And the doctor convinced me that she needed to go to hospice, and I sent her to hospice for one day and it was not a good experience for us here because of my wife’s progression of her illness. She had a C. diff infection, which is highly contagious.
Patrick Willis: Yeah.
Art Costello: And they isolated her, and literally, I called her nurse Gestapo–
Patrick Willis: Oh, man.
Art Costello: –would not let us, I mean, this was going to be, supposedly her last day on earth and they wouldn’t let us go in as a family, then there was just a whole bunch of things. So I called our doctor and I said: “I don’t like this, and I want to take her home.” And literally our doctor said: “Art, pick her up in your arms, pick her up in your arms, put her in the car, drive her to the ranch.–“
Patrick Willis: Man.
Art Costello: –“and we’ll deal with it.” I literally picked her up, put her in the car and drove her to the ranch, got her into bed at home, and of course, hospice wanted to come to the house now.
Patrick Willis: Yeah.
Art Costello: Because they need to, there was a lot of medications, and narcotics, and stuff that she was on and all that. Her twin sister was there and her little sister there are both nurses, all three of the girls were nurses, so caring for her that last final days, but they said that she would pass that day, and literally she stayed alive for several days afterwards. But I know from being at the hospice center, I would be too emotional to be effective.
Patrick Willis: Yeah.
Art Costello: How do you deal with that? Because it’s gotta be emotional for you when you see somebody, you know. I know it’s different when it’s someone you love, but you know, I guess my thing is, is that I love everybody.
Patrick Willis: So obviously a nice guy, Art. So obviously, Art. Can I just recognize what you said, how wonderful the way though that you were able to take her home and have their family around in those last days, I mean, that that is priceless.
Art Costello: Yeah, and I let other people, you know, this was part of my epiphany with expectations, you know. When you let other people’s expectations dictate to you what you do, and you know in your gut that something’s not right, and you know you made the wrong decision. It became very evident to me the minute that they took her out of the hospital and put her into the hospice facility that I had made the wrong decision.
Patrick Willis: Yeah.
Art Costello: I had to make it right. So doing the right thing is, you know it’s in your gut.
Patrick Willis: It’s great you’re able to do that. I mean, the trauma that some people go through with people dying in intensive care, in hospital with a million medics around them, trying to give a few more minutes of life that isn’t helpful to anybody. So that’s wonderful that you were able to do that for her.
Art Costello: Well, thank you.
Patrick Willis: How amazing, yeah.
Art Costello: She gave me 38 years of undivided love and attention. If I couldn’t take care of her the last three years of her life, I wouldn’t be much of a man.
Patrick Willis: Wow. Wow.
Art Costello: So, I dropped everything. I dropped everything, my business, everything to take care of her, you know? I never missed a chemo treatment, never missed the doctor’s appointment, you know, so it was a blessing.
Patrick Willis: Yeah. That is priceless, absolutely. Yeah. So a good question, sorry as this, how do I, I mean, I think in a worldwide a bit differently, Art, and I’m wired with relatively low, low levels of it, if I have an emotional movement, which means, I can function that way, and I can, I know a lot of people would get to personally engage in all of them. And I notice it doesn’t get to be because it does. There was one time when I went back into the hospice after a weekend and found that four of people that I counsel and spoken to the previous weekend, all died over the weekend. And man, that was tough. That was tough to take, but generally speaking, I’ve got the kind of makeup that means that I can absorb it and we want, plus as well, I find that a lot of the coaching techniques that I use to help people with in terms of, like, just doing something simple like, you know, some mindfulness and dropping an anchor to steady yourself in the emotional storm, does not the storm go away, it just means you could ride the waves a little. I use that on myself, I used to try very much practice what I preach.“Doing something simple like some mindfulness and dropping an anchor to steady yourself in the emotional storm. The storm never goes away. It just means you could ride the waves a little.” - Patrick Willis Click To Tweet
Art Costello: Do you think that you have a high degree of emotional intelligence?
Patrick Willis: I never used to have. I was a nerdy engineer, man, I have no emotional intelligence at all. I had to let it from scratch, to absolute zero. I once bought a book, right, called How to Talk to Anyone, you know, like parties and so forth, my wife’s [inaudible], she looked at that book and said: “What is that for? it’s all obvious.” I said: “No, no, no, no, no, not obvious to me. I have no idea.” Why don’t do this social interaction stuff. So really, from my late teens, early 20’s, I had to deliberately train myself to raise my level of emotional intelligence until I could function as a healthy member of society. The fact it’s so deliberate for me, in some way has made it easier because I’m very much more aware of the processes that are going on in my own head.
Art Costello: Yeah. You know, when we were talking, I was thinking about, you know, I don’t, wouldn’t have this much problem talking to somebody who is actually dying, the actual person who’s dying, you know what would get me the family because I know what loneliness, and abandonment, and the feelings that they’re going to go through afterwards. And people aren’t prepared for that, you know? How do you prepare them for what’s going to happen? I mean, how do you coach them through that?
Patrick Willis: I mean, you’re quite right. More often than that, I found a person who is dying comes to terms with their own situation far more rapidly than their family does, far more rapidly. So one of the things I’ve very much encouraged the family to do is to listen to the person because they just all the time, it’s like they’re guilty of stuff they haven’t done in the past. They’re already anticipating guilt with this, they won’t do in the future. And I encourage them to listen to the person, this is their love one, I say: “Well, you know, just hear what they want.” Cause actually, they’re pretty settled about this, and I don’t know if that was true for you, but I’ve certainly found that there’s that people when they recognize and actually get a level of acceptance about what’s happening rather than just fighting it all the time, you know, fight, fight, fight for an extra minute of life rather than embrace what’s there now.“A person who is dying comes to terms with their own situation far more rapidly than their family does, far more rapidly.” - Patrick Willis Click To Tweet
Art Costello: Yeah. You know, this is, I’ve mentioned this on the show before to my audience, but one of the greatest gifts my wife left me was just before she passed away. She said to me: “I want to give you a gift.” And I looked at her and said: “What possibly can you give me?” She turned around and said to me: “I want to release you from your marriage vows.”
Patrick Willis: Wow.
Art Costello: “So you can go find somebody who needs you as much as I have needed and loved you.” And I didn’t realize it at the time. What a tremendous person it took–
Patrick Willis: That’s huge.
Art Costello: –to release your husband of 38 years, to go find someone else because she knew, and I didn’t realize it until three years later when I started dating, and I started dating guilt-free because I had her permission.
Patrick Willis: Yup. That’s huge.
Art Costello: If I hadn’t had her permission, I wouldn’t have been able to date, and that dating was we could go, we could do a whole thing about a 60 year old man, or a 63 year old man at the time, date dating because that was a whole nother thing. But I couldn’t have done it had she done what she did, it was such a gift, such a blessing.
Patrick Willis: Yeah. That is a huge gift.
Art Costello: And the strength that took for her to do that. Incredible. Do you have any instances like that where you hear people just do other incredible things that, you know, when people are dying?
Patrick Willis: I think it’s just an example. It was, again, it’s so often to the people who are dying, who were looking after their loved ones rather than the other way around, and that is just, just, just so common. I went in with a [inaudible], and he had two or three of his friends there, I kind of came in and he says: Oh, it’s great to see you, but we’re just chilling here. We don’t have any serious conversations. We’re just being chill, we’re just shooting the, you know?” And he was just trying to help his friends reach the point of acceptance that he’d reached, part of his life.
Art Costello: Yeah. And that word acceptance is so easy to say, but so difficult to accomplish. And particularly under other circumstances, you know, when somebody’s at their end, you know, at their end.
Patrick Willis: Yeah.
Art Costello: My experience has been so varied because of Vietnam, when I was a Marine, and seeing guys go.
Patrick Willis: Wow.
Art Costello: You know, and it’s just, it’s rapid, and they’re gone. Sometimes it’s not even at a full step, it’s a half step and they’re gone. It just gives you a whole different perspective on life. You know that you can be here one minute and gone the next. But you know, I want to get back to the preparation for dying. We kind of got off the subject we had done, we had done, I think you said there were three parts of preparing?
Patrick Willis: Yeah, we did, kind of three to four things. We do talked about estates, and practicals, and personal health care stuff, and there’s always the last wishes thing about, you know, funeral, and messages, and any unfinished business you’ve got like people you need to forgive, people you want to offer forgiveness to and receive from, people you want to say thank you to, just some simple unfinished business that a lot of us carry around for a lot of years. And I think when you said perspective Art, again, it’s one of those huge things that you don’t realize until you see it as it were you are recognizing that you are mortal, you are not living forever. And whatever reason you have to do that, whether it’s 20, 60, 80, and recognizing you are mortal changes your perspective in terms of what’s actually important and what things you should hang onto. Should you hang on to that argument or that grudge? Should you focus all the effort worrying about something that is not going to matter in a year’s time? And again, what I really desire to see as people go through a process with me of planning and preparing, even if no one is dying, if they’re perfectly healthy and just want to get through things and be organized is a fresh perspective on, you know what? Yeah, I ain’t gonna live forever, unless their stuff here now, that really does not matter, it really doesn’t matter.“Recognize that you are mortal; you are not living forever.” Patrick Willis Click To Tweet
Art Costello: Yeah, is it more important to prepare before you get ill? I mean, I’m answering my own question. Is it more important to prepare before when you get ill, you know?
Patrick Willis: Their stuff you need to do, there is really stuff you need to do. So if you have a child and you don’t have a will, you’re saying to the state, please do what you’d like at my child.
Art Costello: Yeah.
Patrick Willis: So you thought a will decide the state, please do what you like with my money.
Art Costello: Yeah.
Patrick Willis: Things like, if you’re the bill payer and you’re incapacitated, whatever reason, the last thing you and your family want is people lucky at all when I take your stuff away because you didn’t know where the money was. So you didn’t know about this bill that had to be paid. Just simple, practical stuff with a few simple steps and a little bit of discipline, a little bit of planning, you could take off the table.
Art Costello: Yeah. You know, what are some of the biggest problems people don’t expect when they have a terminal illness?
Patrick Willis: That’s a question. I think one of them is actually how weird their friends can be. One thing that just happens again and again is that some people you thought were really good friends kind of disappear because they just can’t cope. They just cannot cope, they don’t know how to deal with you without being totally weird and so they back off. But then other people who you kind of thought you didn’t know very well, they get drawn in, and so you kind of find your friendship group shifts. It kind of shifts to actually look to the right group of people because it’s the people you need to. Then I talk about some of my work, how you organize your friends, you kind of get a friend who’s a, friend you take the doctors with you, a friend you just chill out and go shopping with, a friend you could unload to, a friend who launched the door for you. So you have a little gang who you work, organize around you, but it’s amazing how people’s friendships shift because of other people’s issues with thinking about end of life.
Art Costello: You know, one of the biggest things that I remember after my wife’s funeral, one of the biggest things that I remember is at church when we had the church service, they put on a big dinner, all the people in our little community came, don’t came, put on a luncheon kind of thing and we had that. After that, they loaded my car with a ton of food, they loaded my car with a ton of flowers and they sent me down the road, and I was alone for weeks and no one except my children, people that I had been close to, and people that she had been close to,` because her sisters lived far away. They actually got on planes right after her funeral and flew back to their families because they had spent the last few days there and they had to get back. But I remember the loneliness after the service, and they loaded up my car with the food in there, I threw more food out, a person could eat that in a six months. I mean, but I tell people, and one of the things I’m sure you do is keep in contact after the funeral, keep in contact because it is extremely important because–
Patrick Willis: Yup.
Art Costello: –that’s when you are the loneliest and you feel alone.“Keep in contact after the funeral. Keep in contact because it is extremely important because that's when you are the loneliest and you feel alone.” - Art Costello Click To Tweet
Patrick Willis: People don’t stay in contact because they don’t know what to say or what to do. But sometimes, it’s just a matter of being there, and yeah, never think, Oh, do I say I’m sorry. I don’t know. Does it sound right? No, it’s actually okay to go. You know what? That is a complete pile you’re in now, but let me sit there with you.
Art Costello: That’s all I would have ever asked, just somebody to be there. After a while, you know, there were a few people that came around and all that, but the vast majority, I still have not contacted.
Patrick Willis: I guess because people know, I mean, you probably heard this one, which is probably of all those horrible things you could say is, “So, are you not over it yet?”
Art Costello: Yeah.
Patrick Willis: I punch your lights out, thank you very much. The wound may heal, but the scar will never go away.“The wound may heal, but the scar will never go away.” - Patrick Willis Click To Tweet
Art Costello: Yeah.
Patrick Willis: And that’s something to rejoice about. That’s a part of your life, that was always part of your life, and it’s going to be part of your life and that’s okay, and it still hurts because it was such a big, such a big lost.
Art Costello: Why still get emotional? I mean, as you’ve heard on the show, I mean, I still shed tears and I’m remarried. But you know, one of the biggest things I’ve wanted to ask you, and it’s another, one of my — questions, but, you know, I went through years of, well, went two and a half years of not dating, three years, pretty close. And then I started dating, and then it was a hub love of experiences and all that. But when I found Beverly, my current wife, I knew that she was the blessing that Vicky had talked to me about, that she was the one. She had never been married, she was 53 years old, I was 63, and she had never had children. You know, she has been such a blessing to my children’s lives and all that. And I don’t know if you ever get this much of a chance to talk about to families that have lost their young men, that have lost spouses, but I want them to know that there is a life after death, there is another life out there. I just had very, very dear friend who I worked with counseling because she met a gentleman who had lost his entire family in the flood, and he lost his two young children and his wife, and they started dating, and her expectations of what to expect. We kind of went through a lot of it, and there’s a transition period that we all go through, and you have to let people grieve, and you have to let them get through that transition period. But my words to them as: “You will come out whole on the other side, if you’ll let yourself grieve and follow the process.”
Patrick Willis: That’s it. If you let yourself, that’s absolutely it. You just have to let it flow, don’t try and push it away. You’re fighting a losing battle, just let it let it flow.
Art Costello: Yeah. You have to deal with it. You know, you have to process it.
Patrick Willis: Yeah. That’s the word.
Art Costello: Yep. You have to process it and normalize it because you never forget. You never forget your spouse, you know, or your loved ones. You know, you never forget your mom and dad, but you learn to live with it, and you learn to have process how you deal with it.“You never forget your spouse or your loved ones...but you learn to live with it, and you learn to process how you deal with it.” - Art Costello Click To Tweet
Patrick Willis: But back to the point you were saying before about some of the biggest problems people don’t expect that if they get a life limiting diagnosis of some sort, is that, everyone thinks about a medical stuff that they, and the thing I mentioned, the friends, think about the medical stuff, but it’s all emotional stuff. You mentioned GUILT, it’s like, yeah, they’re guilty when they’re going to leave the parlor, they’re guilty for the healthy choices that they haven’t made, or angry cause they made healthy choices that didn’t work out, or annoyed and frustrated about this is endless, really emotions that just plays through, and like you said, that you have to process it. You can’t push it away. You just have to ride out the storm a little, and let the storm ride out.
Art Costello: And it’s all different for each one of us.
Patrick Willis: Yeah.
Art Costello: It’s very, very different for each one of us on how we deal with it because we’ve had different experiences with our spouse, or our loved one, however you want to phrase it. You know, I just think about the processing part of it and how different it really is, but yet, there’s so many things about it that are the same and that’s what you prepare us for because you prepare us for the commonality that comes with that.
Patrick Willis: Yup.
Art Costello: Preparing all the documents, and preparing all that mental preparedness. What are some of the myths that you’ve come across about.
Patrick Willis: Well, I’ll tell you one of my favorites really, and it’s stupid when you say it, but people think it. If I talk about dying, it’s somehow makes it more likely to happen. If I prepare properly, then I’m kind of wishing it all myself. Now, how do you say it? It sounds stupid, doesn’t it? I think that’s kind of what goes on a lot of people’s heads behind.
Art Costello: Well, coming from the field that we do, you know, and thinking about, you know, hey, we are what we think we are and we are what we process. It kind of feeds right into it. But you know, I never have thought of it that way.
Patrick Willis: But if you would like to talk about it, because think about it, because there’s almost brings you on a bit, Oh, wait, I don’t want anybody, don’t talk that way, don’t talk about where she might die. But no, actually, I need to prepare this stuff, you know, that’s good to prepare this stuff. Another big one I think for me is that, if you are ill and thinking quality of life is all about the medical treatment because quality of life is what’s going on in your head. And it is the quality of life is, everyone gets caught up in, yeah, I need this treatment, that treatment, and the medical staff is telling you this and that, well, I get slightly better, call to you this or that. But the real damage to your quality of life quality is the fear, and worry, and numbness, and anxiety is ripping through your body. And if you could deal with that, then your life quality goes up a whole bunch of notches. And I think, so people just to reset that life quality is far more about what’s going on in your head than what’s going on in your body.
Art Costello: What role does heaven play? People’s belief in heaven.
Patrick Willis: Oh, you know what? I’m going to be a little controversial here, okay. I said to you, Art, I’m a Christian, I’m a leader in a church, and I often find and shoot me down here, that a lot of people faith are far too concerned about hanging onto their life now than some heavenly future. And they are almost obsessed with divine healing and divine intervention, which does happen, but it’s not as common as we would like it to be. And then they are about heaven, so I think if they would reset their thinking about, actually, my life now is a small drop in the ocean compared to an eternity, that will be great. But I think people’s theory on that and their practice don’t always line up.
Art Costello: There’s a book, and it’s called Heaven by Randy Alcorn.
Patrick Willis: Oh, I read that and I’ll just look it up.
Art Costello: It is a very, very interesting book. It was given to us by our pastor when Vicky was diagnosed, and I don’t want to say when she was diagnosed, when she was re-diagnosed in terminal, he gave us the book and it’s a very intricate rewritten synopsis of heaven from a biblical standpoint. And it’s really difficult to read, you really, I mean, I was going back and forth between Bibles, books, and dictionaries, trying to put it all together, and you know, and Vicky and I read it together, so what we had pleasure. But you know, after she read that, her piece, she came to a piece–
Patrick Willis: That is brilliant.
Art Costello: Yeah. And let me tell you, one of the things about the book that was so interesting for us is the myths about heaven are so incredibly skewed to how society wants to see it, and are not biblically factual. And Randy Alcorn points out the biblical, there’s a word I’m looking for.
Patrick Willis: Perspective?
Art Costello: Controversy, and the biblical reality, you know, because of the myths that were told, that we’re going to meet our, you know, we’re gonna meet our maker, we’re going to meet our spouses, we’re going to meet our friends, we’re going to see our puppy, you know, I mean we’re going to have all of these things that come through us. And then you have the people who have near death experiences and tell you all this stuff.
Patrick Willis: Oh, yeah.
Art Costello: Biblically, that’s BS.
Patrick Willis: Yup. Yup.
Art Costello: It’s not true. And he goes into the detail biblically with the references and everything of why it is not, and that’s what heaven is about.
Patrick Willis: That’s really neat.
Art Costello: And it really, I’m going to encourage you to read it. It’s a difficult read and you’re probably calling me and say, why did you do this?
Patrick Willis: No, not at all. I will definitely read it. I mean, it’s interesting really because in my work, I don’t have any expectations of the spirituality of my clients, if you like, because I don’t want that to be a barrier for anybody. I’m happy to have any kind of conversation they want, but I don’t want to be a barrier either. So I tend not to focus overly on it, but if someone has a spirituality then I think is very much something we should be part of their process.
Art Costello: You know, now that we’ve gone through all this, I had this thought in my head about, you know, something you had said about, when people asked you what you do, how do you tell them what you do?
Patrick Willis: Yeah, I kind of covered that every time, I think, generally speaking, I start off by saying: “I support people at the end of life, and I’ll help those who have a terminal illness to live their best possible life.”
Art Costello: What’s people’s reaction?
Patrick Willis: It is 50, it is down the middle, it’s like, do you have mama in the States? Or Vegemite, or something? What are those foods that you either love or you hate? There is no in between, and you kind of get–
Art Costello: Like Kombucha.
Patrick Willis: So it’s one of those things that I go: “Wow, that’s amazing.” And they go: “That’s really weird.” And they start to slowly stepping backwards away from you. There is no halfway answer.
Art Costello: See, I would find that interesting. It says a lot about the person and their worldview of death.
Patrick Willis: Yeah.
Art Costello: Yeah.
Patrick Willis: It really does. I think we see so little of death in the Western world, like, I mean, a hundred years ago, everybody had people die at home and you do, that was normal. So from a child, you’d see old relatives die, you don’t understand what the process would like, and death wouldn’t be scary and horrible. It would just be kind of part of life. We’ve sanitized it and we’ve pushed it to some little corner that we don’t try not to think about. And that’s what people struggle with, I think.
Art Costello: Are you afraid of death?
Patrick Willis: Me? No.
Art Costello: Me neither, I don’t fear it. I mean, I’ve seen it and I have seen what it does. And I focus more on living for the now in the moment than I do about dying because we never know. I mean, I’ve learned that we never know. You know, when you were talking about people that are helping and stuff, my late wife never drank, never smoked, ate well, had a beautiful body, she was never more than 110 pounds. I mean, on a five foot, three and a half frame, she just took care of herself, and boom, she gets cancer.
Patrick Willis: My wife, just the same says, how I’m so annoyed, you know, I’ve looked after herself, so I’m so annoyed. And that was like, I’ve done all the right lifestyle choices, but there’s no guarantees, there’s never a guarantee.
Art Costello: Yup. And there is not a guarantee. That is a great way to segment out of this. And I want to give you some time where you can tell people where to get ahold of you, how to get ahold of you, any parting thoughts you have?
Patrick Willis: Okay. Well, my website unfinishedbusiness.life, just unfinishedbusiness.life rather than .com, it’s life. You can go there, top of the homepage for the two things I do. You can pick the one you’re interested in. It’s either, yeah, I am actually coping with terminal illness now, or I’m smart and I want to prepare, and you pick the option and then there’s some freebies you can download, and instructions if you’d like to speak. So that’s very easy to do. Passing thoughts, I think I’d want to come back to acceptance and say: “When we get to a point of accepting, we realize that the life we have today is a gift. We’re thankful for the gift we have today, and we just accept each day as it comes to us. Our quality of life will just go up.”Click To Tweet
Art Costello: Those are powerful words. I mean, powerful thoughts. And Patrick, I’m going to tell you that this has been an honor and a pleasure to share, and you give me and my audience this gift. And I’m going to encourage everybody to go to Patrick’s website and pick and choose what, you know, hopefully you’re doing this before you get ill, but if you have a family member, I’m going to encourage you to do that. You know, go to his website, seek out his help, can’t tell you enough Patrick, how blessed I’ve been through this. And with that being said, I’m going to sign off for the day, and I’m going to let Heather White take us outta here and the show note of “Live every day to the best of your ability and make it the happiest day of your life.” Thank you everybody. Goodbye.Click To Tweet
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