In photo from left to right: Suzanne O'Brien, Deanna Cochran, Edo Banach, Patty Burgess.
This has truly been an eventful year! End of Life Doulas have taken a national and international stage as the new kids on the block for end of life support to families and established organizations who serve those with advanced illness and the dying.
I appreciate what this particular death midwife is saying regarding visiting someone at the end of life: "It is not mysterious or grandiose - bottom line, you're just visiting someone...at a very scary time in life."
Like a birth doula, but not really.
Let us begin with a little comparison and understanding of the role in relation to birthing. In 2017, in the US, birth doulas have created a special niche for themselves as providers of practical and emotional care for a woman and her family.
I work in the field of death and dying every day and help people move through so much pain and grief, and I am still no expert in grief - yours or my own.
I do not believe in the experts on grief.
As an end of life doula, we expect a lot of ourselves sometimes. How often do you get to ‘practice’ the art of being with others as they are dying? How often do you get to ‘practice’ the skills that will make you good at this? Do you expect yourself to just be great at going between the two states of 'being' without practice? That is a lot to ask of anyone.
I offer my respect to our armed forces and our veterans today. Join me in a moment of silence intentionally for all the men and women who were scared, who didn't understand the totality of what they were getting into, or how it would affect their lives when they came home, if they did.
I honor the grieving parents, children, widows, sisters, brothers, and friends of the thousands upon thousands of people who made it possible for the likes of us in the U.S. to pretty much do and go as we please without bombs being dropped in our living room or seeing our baby brothers and sisters blown apart as we go to the store.
Today is not about me approving of war. As humans we have a long way to go to minding our own business and also protecting other humans in a kind and peaceful way. Today is about asking all of us to join in prayer and meditation for all those who lost their lives with the intention of protecting us and for making this world a better place.
Coming home from Maui after the International Death Doula Conference this week has been a shattering experience. And I mean that in a good way.
The conference was sold out to people from all over the world, some new to end of life and excited to see how this calling will unfold in their lives. Most were ‘old timers’ in the work, quietly and not so quietly making great strides in their communities to empower people in the realms of dying and death.
A recent article by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, "Transforming End of Life Care through Communication," states something vitally important:
We, as those who want to accompany others through dying, have a 'job' to do which is to listen and hear what a person's goals are for themselves now that they are seriously ill.
WOW...wow...wow!! I'm trying to grab my joy and awe on all levels about how this year’s retreat continued to expand my consciousness in serving others at the end of life.
Each person that is called to serve the dying decides their own path for serving. Some do so through hospice volunteering or through working in the medical field, while others are creating their own way to bridge the gaps in health and death care.
School of Accompanying the Dying
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