Discussing Death

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I wasn’t just preparing for his birth; I was simultaneously preparing for his death. My unborn child, I learned about midway through my pregnancy, would not survive outside the womb.

Faced with this reality, I just didn’t know where to turn . I had questions. Hard questions. Ones that I was literally afraid to ask. Things I wasn’t sure were even okay to discuss.  And I didn’t know what options were available to me, or who to ask. I felt very isolated because nobody else seemed to be talking about babies dying. Unless they had lost a baby themselves, nobody seemed to “go there.”  Nobody seemed to be talking about death, period. 

This experience was more than a decade ago and it is what led me to the work I do now. I found my way and it became my mission to help others on their own journeys through birth and death.  I have been an advocate and a companion for those navigating loss. In my roles as a parent companion, support group facilitator, and doula I hold space for them as they contemplate and express their wishes and their fears. I have been present for a lot of hard conversations and difficult decisions. I have also seen a lot of beautiful connections and witnessed a lot of strength and love. 

Part of a death doula’s work is holding space for those difficult, emotional conversations – with the individuals and families we support and within the community as a whole. Currently within our culture there is a large movement in toward talking about death and even embracing death. (Certainly social media has made it easier to spark these conversations.) “Death cafes” and similar gatherings are popping up all over the place, providing safe and healthy space for dialogue around our mortality. 

More and more people are having these conversations. 

Are you talking about death? Are your loved ones?  

An end of life doula can help you get the conversation going. We need to be honest with ourselves–look at, explore, and ultimately move to acceptance of our mortality. A doula will hold space for that process, and together you can craft a plan for a meaningful, peaceful death.

What do you want your final life transition to look like for you and your loved ones? 

Explore options and ask hard questions. Gather information. Express your wishes. Let others know your vision. Go there. And know that you don’t have to go there alone.

 

Reiki at end of life

Reiki is a very gentle yet very powerful healing technique. Its effects can benefit the receiver physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. No specific spiritual belief system is necessary.  A reiki treatment benefits the whole person, in whatever ways the client needs for their healing. Receivers report feeling relaxed, a sense of calm, dissipating stress, stillness and relief from pain– during and following Reiki treatments.

Once a skeptic myself, I was awed– and still am to this day, as my practice has expanded—by the shifts Reiki can facilitate. Yet, at the same time, it is subtle, safe and accessible to everyone. This last part is what makes Reiki so beneficial at the end of life, and is why hospices all over the the U.S. are incorporating Reiki into their care. 

I am a Reiki master and have specialized training in  providing Reiki energy medicine at end of life. I completed my Master and end of life trainings at Sanctuary Healing Arts in Amherst, MA. My teacher, Haleya is amazing. Just one of the hats she has worn is that of hospice chaplain. It is so amazing to hear Haleya describe the shift in perception of energy medicine at end of life that she has witnessed in the past decade.