Niki DiGaetano

One of the driving forces compelling me to initiate this proposal stems from my own end-of-life experiences. During my family’s first significant loss, we encountered so many situations for which we were not prepared. No one informed us of the minutiae surrounding topics such as: power of attorney, pain management, choosing memory care and hospice facilities, or telling a surviving spouse that her husband passed. Afterwards, I found myself growing exponentially angry that this had never been discussed; it was a taboo. My family never wanted to talk about it, and certainly, the general society never initiated these conversations, nor provided resources that would allow for a somewhat-informed encounter with the end-of-life process. Instead, we entered that process completely ignorant. No one discussed it with us until it was too late; we were slogging through it, waist-deep, and I fear my loved one suffered unnecessarily due to our forced learning curve. Later, I noticed this pattern being repeated among friends. They too were as lost as I was, and they expressed dismay at not being prepared, at not previously discussing these matters. Because I currently do not work in the death trade, I am comfortable identifying myself as “an everyday person” who seeks to expand the death discussion outside of the end-of-life circle. As such, I was immediately interested in your desire to “break the “expert table” model of panels and presentations” through the summit. Although I aspire to an eventual vocation as either a hospice chaplain and/or a death doula, I currently work in the advertising industry, which was my focus during my undergraduate studies. In my endeavor to shift fields, I earned a certification from the University of Vermont’s End-of-Life Doula program in December 2019. I am also in the process of pursuing my Master of Divinity with a concentration in healthcare chaplaincy. As another component to my foray into end-of-life, I was a hospice volunteer for six months. The patients I was honored to sit with reinforced my understanding of profundity in simplicity: the gentleness of touch, the silence of presence, and the power of companionship.

Events by this speaker


02nov11:3012:45N DiGaetano: Numbered Days11:30 - 12:45(GMT+00:00) View in my timeSession (Hopin)Event type:PresentationTopic:Dying WellSession ID: :Session 6B