Death Doula Turns Grief into Guidance

Death Doula Turns Grief into Guidance

With the facts around her sister’s death seared into her brain, Hayes forgot how to take care of herself. She says she felt like she was walking on her hands and eating with her feet. Nothing felt normal. It was while hiking in Lynn Headwaters with a good friend that Hayes saw a faint light at the end of the tunnel. The friend dropped the term “death doula” and Hayes was intrigued. She went home and immediately googled it.

“It was so clear to me that this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” says Hayes. Except the timing for Hayes becoming a certified death doula was a little off, she admits. You’re not supposed to take the program when you’re in the throes of grief, but Hayes pushed through to the other side. She was a student learning about grief when she had already aced the painful exam.

Hayes took a three-month, End of Life Doula program overseen by the Conscious Dying Institute out of Colorado.

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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

“People come to us, and oftentimes this is their very first experience with death, and there’s so much fear of the unknown,” says Sethi-Brown, who is also is a local musician, whose work includes playing for people transitioning and at Third Messenger events. “Sometimes, family members come to us and say, ‘We don’t want our loved one to know that they’re dying.’ We don’t practice it. There are some traditions around the world that actually have practices around death, meditations around death — just like if you’re birthing, you go to birth classes, read birth books, but [there’s] nothing to prepare you for death.”

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Going green when it's your time to go…..

Going green when it's your time to go…..

In Phase 2 of our End of Life Doula Certificate program, we work with 5 domains of life as a framework for discussing and potentially realizing end of life desires and wishes for those in our care.  One of the domains of like focuses on after death care.  Many individuals these days have a great interest in “going green” ….. we wanted to share this article about:  Going green when it's your time to go…..

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Rethinking the Bucket List

Kathleen Taylor is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 20 years of experience in hospice, palliative care, and advance care planning. She currently operates a coaching and consulting practice primarily serving the healthcare, social service and nonprofit sectors. In her career, Kathleen has fostered communication within families, in conference rooms, and in communities. Her intention is to bring her skills and insight regarding clarity and authenticity to every interaction. Kathleen is based in Tampa Bay, FL.

The Gift of Offering Presence

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Those who are called to the healing path of End of Life Doula know that they will see life and death in all its fullness in their service to those at end of life.  End of Life Doulas offer their presence in witnessing all of life's gifts and challenges, the suffering and the healing, the learning and the surrender.

Cultivating the skill of being present is a foundational practice in our End of Life Doula program.  And it's the worlds most versitile skill.  Offering one's precence is an incredible gift, in all circumstances.  It's not just for end of life care.  We resonated with this article from the New York Times, The Art of Presence.  It's a beautiful reminder that "most people need presence" and "non-verbal expressions of love are as healing as eloquence".  

 

 

Vancouver Phase 1 Student

First of all, I would like to thank you for the role that you have played in bringing this workshop on Conscious Dying.   It was the most profound workshop with highly conscious people, and therefore absolutely transformational.  I felt like I was in a bubble in the universe of like-minded people.  I bow to you for your commitment and thank you from the bottom of my heart for the role you are playing in elevating human consciousness.  MM

Vancouver Doula Student 2017

There is no possible way to express enough gratitude for your generous gesture towards me in the program! The situation with the father of my children had been away of my conscious awareness for a long time--the loss of LOVE and the loss of my maternity in the way that most women experience it in a day to day basis.
I do not even know how it happened that I raised my hand to work with you. My infinite gratitude to you to have receive my pain and open my compassionate heart towards the man I have LOVE THE MOST DURING ALL MY LIFE. For whom this love has never vanish even if immense suffering has come upon me and I my children. May the suffering of my children and myself bare the fruit of true compassion towards Alfredo.
 I would like to extend my gratitude to all the participants for their generous time and attention given to me during the program. Let them know that I am committed to be a channel to lessen the suffering of others as a token of gratitude to all and every one present with me during this last two days!
    Blessed be your father that perceived the wisdom teacher in his woman child! May I honor all your teachers and guides in the work you do!
                                               ¡Con todo mi cariño y gratitud! G M

End of Life Doula Amy 2017

I just wanted to thank you all again for such a lovely weekend we shared. It was truly a beautiful experience and you are all such beautiful souls! I returned home from our time together with words and emotions lingering from the death experience … and wrote “SURRENDER” … so I thought I would share here …

SURRENDER

As she sits in stillness, she takes note of her inner space - her space full of past wounds, rushing thoughts, and emotional roller coasters; her space full of ideas, hopes, and dreams. The space that holds her physical being.

And she clearly sees that she is more - that she is not simply defined by what is contained within. She is separate from anything that moves through and all that accumulates inside her body, her mind …

So she let's go of all of it ... inviting a moment of pure surrender ... a surrender that draws her beyond her suffering, beyond her attachments, beyond her perceptions and beliefs and dreams.

And in that moment, resting in that expansive space of no boundaries, no limitations …

She just is.

As she dwells silently, curiously in that place of pure Love, she recharges her heart, her soul. She finds peace, comfort and strength.

With the Beauty that permeates, it would be easy for her to stay, to get completely lost in the place of intoxicating Love ... but she becomes aware of that which waits for her return; that which pulls, tugging tirelessly at her attention.

So once again, and with intention, she surrenders.

She surrenders back into her human-ness to hold her space full of past wounds, rushing thoughts, and emotional roller coasters; her space full of ideas, hopes, and dreams.

She surrenders because she realizes that her close proximity to woundedness, pain, and emotion does not separate her from Love; it actually accentuates Loves presence. It allows her the opportunity to embrace what it means to be human - to experience dis-ease, suffering, fear, longing - all of which open her heart to tenderness, compassion, and empathy for herself and others.

She surrenders because she knows that it is all one and the same. By fully embracing the condition of being human, she surrenders to Life; and her surrender to Life is, ultimately, her surrender to Love.

End of Life Doula Jill

Thank you all for keeping the energy strong. This emails have been so helpful to me as I plopped back down to earth and struggle with the balance of keeping the weekend alive and taking care of business.

Listening to my heart - I shared the link to the Sophia's bath and have been coming back to that clip throughout my day. This was well received and a few "curious inquiries" about the topic. Yeah! Blessings always in all ways to each of you. My world is sweeter because of each one of you.

Jill

End of Life Doula Christopher

From Christopher S - May 2015

Thank you for that poem Tarron. Thank you for this work you are teaching. 
Here's a poem I wrote a while back that I realized could have been written about our weekend together.

Thank you for releasing so many healing tears.

Tears fall,
Relax, do not sob or fight with the flow.
Open every tightness
Let light into the dark frozen places that resist.
There is warmth and tenderness in tears,
Let this tenderness,
melt the hardness.
The softness you try to shield and hide
feels vulnerable
because life is tenuous and brief.
You know the kiss of death -
it always patiently awaits
for you to let it in.
But who is this that does the letting?
Who is the one that receives this kiss?
Breath moves through this body -
this “I” cannot stop it.
LIfe itself determines how many more times
this belly fills with invisible sustenance
and then without clinging
releases and surrenders the breath
for another to begin.
There is no celebration,
no awe or wonder at how breath continues,
but there should be.
Why should there be any clinging to a tear
as it forms in this eye,
and then trails down
this cheek?
LIfe is in this tear,
it is in the emotion,
a rising energy that this body struggles to contain.
Don’t struggle.
Something bigger than this body is moving through it
that causes the tear to form
and this breath to rise and fall.
Become this motion in the belly.
Become the energy beneath emotion that births tears.
Become the openness
in which all this is occurring.

End of Life Doula Siobhan A

From Siobhan A

So sweet to read through all the emails, the threads that continue to weave us together.  I wanted to share the lyrics to the song I sang on the last day.  You can probably find the melody on YouTube if you would like to learn it, but if not, just call me!  
 
Oh Love (death, birth, life) prepare me
To be a sanctuary
Pure and Holy
Tried and True

And in thanksgiving
I will be a living
Sanctuary
For you

Much love, and I thank and bow to each of you for your generous and couragous hearts as you embark on this journey into the land of Lady Death.  
 

Conscious Dying Faculty Kelly S

Our wonderful Phase 1 graduates of the Sacred Passage Doula Certification program warmed our hearts with poems and beautiful expressions of their experience.  This post and page is a thank you!

From Kelly S - May 2015

Thank you all for such a generous, beautiful experience!  
I'm overwhelmed still.  All my love, Kelly

The center leads to love.
Soul opens the creation core.

Hold on to your particular pain.
That too can take you to God.
Rumi

I loved every minute of this certification End of Life Doula Christine 2016

(My) biggest area of professional growth was understanding how important ceremony and ritual is for me as an individual and a doula.  Also – all the discussion about what our doulaship is going to look like and what actual steps we will take to help our vision come to fruition was enormously helpful. 

I learned wholeheartedly the mission of a Sacred Passage Guide; I learned that part – a huge part of my role will be outreach; I learned that my gifts took intentions and sacred awareness of what makes me the doula I want to become; I loved all the teachings around vigil, the doula panel and after death care, and grief gates.

Because I am drawn to death, the sacredness of it and my own sacred selfishness urges me to ... serve as a source of education, companionship and ceremonialist – a sacred passage guide for those who are dying and their families.

I loved every minute of this certification; I’ve appreciated so much the teachers, especially Greg, Marilyn – who have been tremendous in sharing their experiences, wisdom and knowledge.  Thank you Tarron for bringing this language and this sacred right to us, and giving us the opportunity to share it.

--2016 End of Life Doula Graduate

The Founder's Story

When I was a young child, I learned from my mother that caring for others is the fruit of life.

The small town I lived in was a glass house, so small that when someone was sick, or born, dying, or dead, we all knew. Then everyone brought food. They sat and visited, comforting each in their own way, giving to the family and patient equally.

I saw my mother tend to her mother and father through the end of their long long lives. My father’s mother and father, her own sisters and brothers, neighbors, and friends. People called on her to stay with their loved ones who lingered in that half light between life and death. And when the time came, my mother helped them, kept their lips moist, fed them ice until there was no heat left to melt it, patted their pillows, touched their sweet tired cheeks, and held their hands until it was time to go on, to go HOME.

I am a child of many relatives who lived very long lives. 

I saw people in nursing homes who were faint, thin, heavy, sad, lost, but not yet dead. I saw caregivers doing their best and some not near enough. I saw families sitting in miserable chairs in waiting rooms. I saw little ladies lined up along the hall.

In adolescence, I had a friend whose parents owned the town funeral home. We played there after church on Sunday, a day that most families choose to have the service for their dead. We played everywhere in that building. We took the elevator up to the casket room and hid inside them, pretending to be dead. We went down down down to the embalming room and touched the cold still bodies. We hid behind the curtains in the funeral parlor and watched as people mourned for their dead and sang their favorite songs. We saw fathers and uncles and grandfathers break down and fall to their knees while mothers and sisters and aunts and daughters knelt beside them.

So I grew up seeing and knowing death. I became as comfortable with this passage as sitting on a swing outside. Something about this made me want to know life and dig into what it means to pass through suffering and come back with a gift in my heart. Something in me wanted to know how to turn this dying I have seen and the care surrounding it into something as precious as gold. And to bring it back to share with others. It is a blessing to give back what I have been given.

I have cried and fought for my life in both darkness and light guided by teachers whose souls and hearts and brilliant human caring healing gifts taught me everything I needed to remember about who I am and what I came to this earth to do. 

I trusted my life for just long enough with each of them to transform pain and doubt into a desire to give back.

This alchemy, this giving back, is now my work.