Consulting business helps with end of life planning
For years, Nioka Francis was the person people came to when they wanted to talk about end of life issues.
“Sometimes people think that is strange, but I don’t have a problem with that,” Ms Francis said.
She can commiserate because she has experienced many deaths in her family, including her mother, Vendolyn Francis, in 2018.
“Once I had my son, 18 years ago, the deaths just started rolling in,” she said. “His grandmother, grandfather, his aunt. We were constantly losing people.”
She decided to turn her passion for helping others into a business. This year she launched Bluelily Consulting: Bermuda’s End of Life Specialists.
Some of her clients are terminally ill, but they don’t have to be.
“I would rather you come to me before, and we can start planning now,” she said. “You can come on your own, or with your family. You can bring your family later when you are more sure of what you want.”
Ms Francis said you don’t have to completely finish the end of life planning process with her, but it is half the battle just to get started.
She has studied grief counselling and end of life issues at KEW Academy online and is also a trained life coach.
“I am trained to counsel clients in matters such as end-of-life goal setting, funeral planning, cost saving, overall wellbeing, positive living, and healthy relationships,” she said. “I have taken up a bit of grief counselling as well.”
She has been looking to set up her business for a while, but given that she is a single mother with a full-time job in health insurance, it took her some time.
“There are a lot of end of life issues that people need help with,” Ms Francis said. “Putting it all together and having someone to sit down one-on-one with, and walk them through different things they can do, or just having someone to talk to, makes a difference.”
She said some people don’t have families to discuss their wishes with, while others are afraid to discuss the matter with their loved ones.
Death and dying can be hard to talk about.
“Some people still wait until the last minute,” she said. “My thing is, let’s start now. Why wait? I want to be able to help you with your funeral planning. That will be the blueprint for the way you want it set up. There should not be any if, thens, or buts afterward.”
Ms Francis said clearly laying out your wishes can eliminate arguments among your family members, after you die, over who gets what, or what song is played at your funeral, or whether you are buried or cremated.
“The first step is to have an advance directive,” she said.
This is a legal document that states what medical decisions you want made at the end of your life, if you can not make the decisions yourself. For example, you might decide you do not want to be resuscitated if your heart stops.
Ms Francis will even help her clients create their own obituaries.
“Sometimes people say why, my family will do that,” she said. “But you would be surprised at what your family does not know. Putting it all together now helps. Even if you just write a small bit of it that will help. Your family will probably want to add things too it also, later on, but having information on hand saves your family a bit of time.”
She said sometimes an end of life conversation might start as a joke. One person might say they want a funny song played at their funeral.
“Sometimes joking around about it is the start to a serious conversation about death and dying,” she said. “They might seem like they are joking, but it could be exactly what they want. I told my son cremate me and put me in a box. You don’t have to do anything. I did a memorial for my mother. There were invitations and it was invite only. We made it really personal.”
So far, it has been difficult getting people in the door to see what Bluelily is about, but she has had a few clients. One of them died very soon after working with her.
“It was still sad to watch the funeral,” she said. “But it was satisfying because it was so easy for the family. It does get hard. You can get attached to families, watching them go through things, and seeing how it all pans out. It is not easy.”
For more information call 705-6762, or e-mail email@example.com. Also see Instagram @bluelilyconsulting, Facebook @endoflifebda or her website www.bluelilyconsulting.org.