Honoring Wishes and Celebrating Life: Interview with Kathleen Kellner

Importance of End-of-Life Conversations and Documentation: The podcast emphasizes the critical need for individuals to have conversations about their end-of-life wishes with loved ones or document them if they can’t. This ensures that their desires are known and respected, helping to avoid family conflicts and uncertainty during challenging times.

Comprehensive Support and Resources: Kathleen Kellner’s role as an end-of-life consultant extends beyond traditional funeral planning. Her company, Empowered Endings Collective, offers comprehensive support, including financial, legal, and legacy planning. This holistic approach aims to address all aspects of end-of-life preparation and ensure clients receive tailored support for their unique needs.

Initiating Conversations and Seeking Support: Both Kathleen and the host, Zena, stress the importance of starting conversations about end-of-life planning and seeking support early on. They encourage listeners to reach out for guidance and assistance, emphasizing that every situation is unique and requires personalized support to navigate effectively.


Show Notes:

Zena: Hey there, welcome back. I have a special guest today. Her name is Kathleen Kellner. She is an empathetic and compassionate end-of-life consultant, death doula, and funeral celebrant, dedicated to guiding individuals and their loved ones through the profound journey of life’s final chapter with dignity, respect, and personalized care.

Kathleen: Thank you so much. I’m very happy to be here.

Zena: So tell us how you came to be an end-of-life consultant. I just gave that intro, and I imagine that was probably the spark, but share a little bit more of your journey and intro into this.

Kathleen: Absolutely. That definitely was. I had a career in travel, specifically adventure travel. I had the wonderful opportunity to go to some amazing exotic places. The experience in Thailand was pivotal for me. Throughout my travels, I noticed how dying and death were approached in different cultures, such as the vibrant cemeteries in New Orleans and Dia de los Muertos in Mexico. Eventually, I got into event management and was referred to a funeral home in Calgary. I quickly fell in love with the experience and the opportunity to help families create beautiful end-of-life events. As I learned more about dying and death, I realized there was so much more work I wanted to do in this area. I kept moving forward and educating myself.

Zena: It makes me think about being an entrepreneur and a business person many years ago when I was transitioning. I know I’m going from death to business, but there’s a point here. I had a life coach to help me through the emotional transition piece, organizing all the emotions so that I could take action. It’s even more impactful with end-of-life coaching. Why wouldn’t we have that support for one of life’s most important transitions?

Kathleen: Absolutely. Our generation is dealing with illness and death, which puts our mortality right in front of us. The old way of doing things is not necessarily the best way. There are so many options and choices, but it can be overwhelming. Even with an anticipated death in my family, it deeply shook us. Having someone to guide you through that, offer different tools or suggestions, is very important.

Zena: Yeah. Even having these conversations right now, we’re having it before we’re in that position, which makes it a lot easier because we know that there are options out there. So to the event planning, how perfect. You and I talked on the phone before this podcast. Our conversations can go on and on, but the event planning. Me being a control freak, I’m excited that I’ve got my wishes. I would like some of my ashes put into fireworks, and I’ve even got an insurance policy that allocates funds for my fireworks. So that event planning piece, that’s something else that you help with. Share a little bit about that. Who and how, and what can you do for these events? Because traditionally, we just think of those traditional funerals.


Kathleen: Exactly. When I meet people and share what I do, pretty much everybody wants to share their end-of-life wishes. Some are clear, some are not. I know you can be put into fireworks, which is great news. But often people haven’t documented their wishes. They think their family will remember, but in the chaos of loss, those conversations may be forgotten. So a big part is not only having the conversations but also documenting your wishes, even if it’s as simple as discussing fireworks, which requires advanced planning. Many talk about donating their bodies, but there’s pre-work and approval required, which many don’t realize.

Zena: That’s the coaching piece, right? Guiding to get as close as we can to what we would like. What’s the most memorable experience in your years of doing this?

Kathleen: Every situation is unique, which is the beauty of this role. My ideal clients are healthy people in their 50s and 60s who can openly discuss their wishes. As for memorable moments, they’re all significant. Hearing families tell me how my support made their experience better and created beautiful memories is the most rewarding part.

Zena: Taking care of this is a gift to our family members. What’s your best advice?

Kathleen: Start the conversation. Many regret not discussing it beforehand. Have those difficult conversations for peace on the other side. If you can’t talk to your family, at least document your wishes. Giving your loved ones space to grieve rather than worrying about details is a beautiful gift.

Zena: It reminds me of my grandpa’s organized funeral planning. He took care of everything, which made it easier for our family. Avoiding conflict and celebrating grief is crucial. Your work is multifaceted—being a death doula and funeral celebrant. You probably research extensively to help clients make informed decisions.

Kathleen: Yes, I offer a range of services depending on client needs. We’ll discuss the logistics of your fireworks idea and explore options together. The end-of-life industry is evolving, and people want to make informed choices that align with their values, not just follow tradition.

Zena: Your gifts blend into something special—communication, education, and planning are key before the time comes.


Kathleen: Absolutely. That’s the number one message. Have the conversations or at least write down your wishes. It gives your loved ones a template to work from and helps avoid family conflict or guesswork.

Zena: Where can we find you, Kathleen? Share with us some of the things you’re doing and where to find you.

Kathleen: Sure. I’m on social media, as we all have to be these days. Empowered Endings Collective is my company. It’s a collective because it addresses various aspects, from financial to legal to legacy planning. I’m on Facebook as Empowered Endings, and my website is empoweredendingscollective.ca. You can also reach me by phone or email. Every situation is unique, so let’s start the conversation to figure out how I can best support you.

Zena: Thank you, Kathleen. Listeners can also reach me, and I’ll connect you. My email is [email protected]. Thanks so much for today.

Kathleen: Thank you, Zena, for having me.