For something as ubiquitous as dying, most of us know surprisingly little about it — not just the big unanswerable questions, like what happens after we die. We also rarely think about how to deal with grief, or what to talk about with your family before you go.
So on this episode of Movers & Thinkers, we're facing our fears (and fascination) by talking to three people who come face-to-face with mortality on a daily basis: hospice physician Sasha Bowers, cemetery historian Fred Zahn and Death & Dying professor Andrea Mills.
Dr. Sasha Bowers is a hospice and palliative medicine physician at Alive Hospice, where she cares for patients who can no longer live alone or are actively transitioning to death. She was born and raised in Columbia, Tenn., graduated from Tennessee State University and Meharry Medical College, and became board certified in family medicine. Then, she pursued a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine, in which the focus is no longer on cure but on comfort. Sasha has continued to instruct medical students, residents and fellows and became a fellowship recipient from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.
Andrea Mills teaches the Death and Dying class at Lipscomb University, which brings together different disciplines to examine death anxiety, the grief process and cultural dynamics. She is also the assistant director of the university's counseling center and program director of a campus suicide prevention grant. Prior to taking this position, Andrea worked as a residential substance abuse counselor and held a private practice. She has made a commitment not only to work with students who are experiencing mental health issues, but also to train Lipscomb students and employees regarding suicide awareness.
Fred Zahn is a staff member for the Metropolitan Historical Commission, which includes maintaining the historic Nashville City Cemetery and consulting on cemetery preservation issues throughout the country. Previously, Fred worked in the preservation field as a project manager and restorer on everything furniture, artwork, 19-century houses and gravestones — no job was too big, too small, too complicated, nor had much in common with the previous project. Fred is also passionate about sailing, fossil hunting and diving with vintage scuba equipment, which he also restores.