Death as a Boundary Experience

Death as a Boundary Experience

From as long as I can remember I have had this feeling that there was something hidden about the process of death, some important kind of magic we were missing out on. Eventually, this became a fundamental part of my path, prominently featured in my professional practice as a body-centered psychotherapist specializing in depression and life meaning.

Some wonder about why we should entertain such gloomy topics anyway, lest we find ourselves bogged down by this unnecessary heaviness. To them I would say that death awareness itches all the time, that it rumbles continually just under the surface, that our real choice is between letting it fester in our unconscious or leveraging it to experience feelings of meaning and deeper connection.

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Part 2: Occupy Death | Occupy Life: The Death Positive Movement

Part 2: Occupy Death | Occupy Life: The Death Positive Movement

For us new age boomers and spiritual seekers, this last transformational movement of Practicing for Death, is the crown jewel of how to be fully in our lives. To occupy death is to embody life. We must wake up out of whatever sleeping or waking dreams we have left, whatever dull, mind numbing trances we are still in, whatever false hope we might have that we will get out of this life without facing our own mortality and death.  

Some wonder about why we should entertain such gloomy topics anyway, lest we find ourselves bogged down by this unnecessary heaviness. To them I would say that death awareness itches all the time, that it rumbles continually just under the surface, that our real choice is between letting it fester in our unconscious or leveraging it to experience feelings of meaning and deeper connection.

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NHPCO Announces End-Of-Life Doula Council Formation

NHPCO Announces End-Of-Life Doula Council Formation

(Alexandria, Va) – National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the leading hospice and palliative care membership organization in the U.S., is pleased to announce the formation of a Council to provide information and resources to its members, affiliated organizations, and the public regarding the role of end-of-life doulas.

The Council’s inaugural meeting took place April 25 in Washington, DC to define the Council’s purpose and design activities that will serve its mission.

End-of-life Doulas (EOLDs) are caregivers who offer non-medical, holistic support and comfort to dying people and their families. Services are varied to meet individual needs and requirements, and may include education and guidance, as well as emotional, spiritual or practical care. (continue reading)

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Tarron Estes: My Personal Evolution in the End of Life Doula Movement

Tarron Estes: My Personal Evolution in the End of Life Doula Movement

When I look back on how I came to teach “Sacred Passage: End of Life Doula” education—I see a beautiful pattern of connections and relationships, events and places. All playing unique roles. All touching. All connected. A long steady stream of connections from early childhood to now creating a beautiful life design.

I can see myself as a small child with my mother going to homes or hospital rooms of people who were sick and dying. My mom was a non-medical, natural born caregiver whose healing gifts were intact I suspect from the moment she was born. Caring was her calling.

I see my mom caring for people so tenderly, confidently and with love. Feeding sometimes. Cleaning sometimes. Sitting sometimes. Cooking. Just sitting. Wetting the mouth. Touching the forehead. Just being there.

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Part 1: Occupy Death | Occupy Life - Creating The Death Positive Movement:

Part 1: Occupy Death | Occupy Life - Creating The Death Positive Movement:

Most baby boomers who came into personal growth and development, the "Transformational Movement" began "Waking Up" with Werner Erhart, now known as the father of the Transformational Movement, in the mid 1970s. Since then, spiritual seekers, alternative healers, mediators, new agers and growth cravers have tasted, touched, danced, wailed, blissed out, lit up, sat on cushions, tuned in, turned on, felt "let down", high, awakened, and perhaps even moderately addicted to a myriad of  “transformational” methods, workshops, & spiritual retreats of all types.

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The Evolution of the End of Life Doula Movement

The Evolution of the End of Life Doula Movement

The End of Life Doula movement may be in its earlier stages but it is a worthwhile cause. By definition End of Life Doulas provide non-medical, holistic support and comfort to the dying person and their family. Death has always been a difficult subject for many.  It is a time of loss. But it is also a time of appreciation, a time of retrospection and the opportunity to share intimately with loved ones. End of Life Doulas are trained to be an integral part of the end of life process and provide essential non-medical support to a dying person and their family.

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The Space of Total Vastness by Emily Risner

The Space of Total Vastness by Emily Risner

The Space of Total Vastness by Emily Risener

“And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring. Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.” -Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Shortly before my Grandma passed away, I was dreaming about her.  In the dream, she wanted me to promise her that I would do some of the things that were important to her.  The feeling cannot be described with words except that she seemed mercifully dependent upon my response.

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The Grace of Dimentia by Sara Bensman

The Grace of Dimentia by Sara Bensman

The Grace of Dementia by Sara Bensman

Last summer I took the Conscious Dying Institute Doula Certificate Training in Asheville.  I don’t know why I took it. I didn’t really plan on changing careers and I have no previous experience working with dying people.  I just felt drawn to understand death better in a deep, personal, and positive way. I knew that I wanted to be prepared for the deaths of my 80 year old parents and aging friends and family members.

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The Sacred Ordinary in Healthcare --by Dr. Venu Julapalli, syndicated from tincture.io, Mar 20, 2018

The Sacred Ordinary in Healthcare --by Dr. Venu Julapalli, syndicated from tincture.io, Mar 20, 2018

The Sacred Ordinary in Healthcare

--by Dr. Venu Julapalli, syndicated from tincture.io, Mar 20, 2018

"If you make time for silence, the sacred will unfold." --Rod Stryker
We wanted to share this article posted on The Daily Good with our readers. We hope you will become a part of the everyday Sacred Care as a Sacred Passage Doula. Training begins March 23rd in Boulder, Colorado.

Dear Caregivers,

This piece isn’t dainty. Because healthcare is never dainty.

Earlier this year, my mother was hospitalized for the sudden rupture of an aneurysm in her brain. You can read about an aspect of that experience here. Last week, she came home.

Just two days after she was home, I found her out of the bed and sitting on the ground. She had wet herself. And the feeding tube that was supposed to stay in her stomach while she relearned how to swallow safely? It was next to her pillow.

My father had stepped away to the bathroom for two minutes before this happened. Fortunately, she was okay - and as a gastroenterologist, I knew what to do about the feeding tube (get a replacement into her belly fast before the hole closes)!

It’s not easy to take care of the everyday needs of someone who can’t do them herself. This is what we’ve been finding out firsthand.

So I write this to express gratitude. For all the caregivers in the hospital who looked after Mom. In our more ignorant moments, we doctors may sometimes call you “ancillary personnel.” I will never use that phrase again. You are NOT ancillary.

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Holding Space with Death by Marie David

Holding Space with Death by Marie David

Holding Space with Death by Marie David

“Just as when weaving
Once reaches the end
With fine threads woven throughout,
So is the life of humans”
~Buddha

An old family friend, Ellen,  asked if my mother and I would visit her parents, who weren’t doing well and if we could check on them. Up until a few months earlier, my mom and I were in the intense fire of tending to my dad 24/7 in the last days of his life.  Life after my father’s passing had felt foreign and spacious, and we knew all too well  about the lingering desire for more time with him and we wanted to make sure our friends had all the time they needed.

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Becoming a Sacred Passage Doula

Becoming a Sacred Passage Doula

Becoming a Sacred Passage Doula

Life has been constantly abuzz with opportunity to give of myself. I am overflowing with absolute gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of the amazing and beautiful education and work with the Sacred Passage End of Life Doula Certificate training in Boulder. It was only months ago in September of 2017 that I began my training to become an End of Life Doula. I have cared for the dying as a CNA and was blessed to receive the opportunity to expand my training through the generous gift of a client. 

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Flying on the Wings of Angels

Flying on the Wings of Angels

Flying on the Wings of Angels

Have you ever wondered, if you died next week, who would show up at your funeral; what would they say about you? A year and a half ago, we inadvertently got our first small taste of that. Alarmed at the conventional medicine choices offered for treatment of John’s advanced prostate cancer, we found options that, not covered by health insurance, were out of reach financially for us. So we asked for help. As our first group of angels flew in, John learned how many friends and family from all over the world loved him, appreciated and valued his work and wanted him to stick around! Some shared this with poetic and glowing words. Others, like an old high school friend, told him “he better get well and fast, otherwise he was gonna have to give him a good ass whoopin”.

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Embracing the Mystery by Emily Risner

Embracing the Mystery by Emily Risner

Facing death, talking about it, or writing about it is uncomfortable. I’m young. I’m healthy and death seems a remote possibility right now.  I am called to become an End of Life Doula and yet find this resistance to begin my homework.  Like birthing or parenting, no matter how much you buy in, you still must endure the physical labor with all its uncertainty, the struggles and messiness.  The curriculum with the institute is intense, and beginning my homework as a Doula means resurrecting feelings around death that I have avoided.  In all the ways I could look at death, it hasn’t always been kind or welcomed, and yet it came. Pursuing my training to become an End of Life Doula is the first time that I intentionally chose death. 

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End-of-Life Activists Ponder How to Die in a Death-Averse Culture

End-of-Life Activists Ponder How to Die in a Death-Averse Culture

“Are you willing to pretend something for a minute?” asks Greg Lathrop, a local end-of-life activist. “So, let’s pretend this. March 27 will be your last day here. In this game, we know that you’re going to die March 27. Now, how’s your life? See, it’s a simple perspective shift. Perspective is just a choice. You shift the perspective just that much, and it opens a door. We’re getting somewhere. Now it’s like, ‘I hate my job,’ or ‘I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.’ What would it look like, in these last three months, to live the best three months of your life? It gives us an opportunity. It’s more than a bucket list. What’s your life’s purpose — why are you even here?”

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Why Me? The Calling to Become an End of Life Doula by Emily Risner

Why Me? The Calling to Become an End of Life Doula by Emily Risner

What calls us to want to serve at someone’s bedside as an End of Life Doula?  In my case it is death itself.  My mother died of breast cancer one month before my seventh birthday. Although she passed with dignity and grace, I can only imagine how she must have felt on hospice knowing that she was terminally ill and would be departing at the young age of thirty-four with two children and a husband that she loved dearly.  She did not have an End of Life Doula, nor did she have any rites of passage for her next journey, in this case death. Not only would my mother have benefited from having a special person to sit with her and help her with this transition, but also us kids and my father too. Perhaps becoming an End of Life Doula started a long time ago.

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The Miracles Around Us by Heather MacLeod

The Miracles Around Us by Heather MacLeod

The Miracles Around Us

by Heather MacLeod

After being blessed with the opportunity to be a part of Phase 1 of the Sacred Passage Doula course in Vancouver, I watched several videos of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I came across an interview that Oprah Winfrey had done with Dr. Elisabeth that had been recorded just before Dr. Elisabeth passed on. Oprah and Dr. E spoke of 'guardian angels' and Oprah asked Dr. K-R if she believed everyone had a guardian angel.

Heather MacLeod is a soon to be graduate of the Sacred Passage Doula Certificate Program with the Conscious Dying Institute.

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Dying to be Born as a Doula

Dying to be Born as a Doula

To walk this path, I must die into this truth: . no matter how special, how loved, how young, how old, how close to me, how important, how simply regular anyone is in my dying care or circle, my call is to hold both the universal beauty and mystery of death and the celebration of life in equanimity and balance.

 

To walk this path, I must die into the truth of these words, this mighty concept: no matter how special, how loved, how young, how old, how close to me, how important, how simply regular anyone is in my dying care or circle, my call is to hold the both the universal beauty and mystery of death and the celebration of life in equanimity and balance.

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Regrets of the Dying

Regrets of the Dying

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

 

 

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

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