When I try to explain how I can help with the last days or even with the grieving period, I get a little tongue tied. I don’t have a set formula or pat answers to any situation. What I have is intuition that leads me to suggest things to a particular person in a particular situation that remedies a particular suffering. Something I might never again suggest to anyone else.
Dying is the most intimate occasion of our lives.
People die the way they live, so while one may prefer to have every family member around their bed as they cross the threshold, another might prefer to slip quietly across in the middle of the night with no foreshadowing.
My gift is to listen to what is being said, and what isn’t being said, to see what is forthright and what is hidden, in order to offer alternatives that offer physical, emotional and spiritual comfort to each individual involved.
“What can you do for us?”
I can only answer that question one way; in a half hour face to face consultation where I ask a series of questions to ascertain what is most important to you at this time.
From those answers we could have a very good conversation about how I, as an end of life doula, could assist in your current situation.
When I tell people what I do, there are two reactions:
- 1) “Wow. I wish we’d known about that when my loved one was dying.” Or…
- 2) “Oh.”
I hate both those responses, the first one is about missed opportunities through lack of knowledge. You can’t know what you don’t know, right? But if you had only known you could’ve made a different choice.
The second one is equally disappointing because in that one word so much is conveyed…”I’m not comfortable with that topic.” It means, when the time comes they likely will not remember to call someone like me to help navigate the emotional waters.
But I’d rather hear those words than. . .
“We should’ve called you.”
I can do no more than offer my service and share a vision with you. You are the one who has to decide to push through the inherited societal discomfort around death to embrace a new way of doing things. I will never ‘sell you’ on my services. I won’t try to convince you that this is the best thing to do in your situation. I won’t do it. Do I think everyone can benefit…yes absolutely. There isn’t one single circumstance I can think of that wouldn’t.
Even if YOU are an end of life doula, you can benefit from an end of life doula!!!
But I won’t sell you on it. It will either resonate or it won’t. But please don’t ever come back to me and say ‘we should’ve…’
My heart can’t take it.
If dying is the most intimate experience of our lives, then grieving is its counterpart for those left behind.
It is truly never too late to call me. The death has occurred, the funeral or memorial service is over, and you find yourself ruminating over what you now think you should’ve done better or differently.
Not only can we explore some rituals to help you over this hump, we can also begin right now to prepare for your own death so that your loved ones will not have your same experience. We can start conversations, create your vision and get everyone on the same page…even if that page doesn’t get turned for many years to come.
Death is imminent for all of us, the only difference is that some of us realize it.
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