Death Doulas Help Us Remember

Death Doulas Help Us Remember

“I am an End-of-Life Companion. I, like you, have always been building. I have had it in me all along. The Conscious Dying Institute was the guidance I needed to step into my role in a helpful, fulfilling and healing way. I gave myself permission and found my grace.”

Betsy Munro Jeffrey, a Sacred Passage End of Life Doula Graduate, shares her story of being an end of life companion for her grandfather and conversations with her children about his passing.

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True Beauty: Looking Into the Bright Eyes of a Dying Patient

True Beauty: Looking Into the Bright Eyes of a Dying Patient

Contribution by Barbara Morningstar, who discusses her own end of life care experience and the call to become an end of life doula. “My hospice experience began when I was in my early thirties and married.  On a weekly basis I would visit patients as a volunteer on the palliative unit in our local hospital.  Prior to taking on this role I had never seen the physical changes in a body as someone neared death nor had I been with someone at the moment they took their last breath.“

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Researching End Of Life Doulas

Researching End Of Life Doulas

Researching End Of Life Doulas, Continuity of Care, and Compassionate Community Formation (H12662)

Continuity of care as a spectrum of support offered by End Of Life Doulas to their clients and networks of care around clients, and the role death literacy plays in establishing compassionate communities around clients of End Of Life Doulas is the focus of this international research project.

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End of Life Training

End of Life Training

On my 71st birthday, I was struck by how the tenor of the birthday calls have changed. Many of my contemporaries are struggling with health challenges. Two friends have a terminal diagnosis and others have cancer or other significant issues. My depth of compassion is being called upon more frequently.

I am more than willing to be there for my loved ones in their darkest hours. I also know that I want to live my life with grace and optimism. The need for happiness, and its partner, laughter, must be fulfilled.

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Breaking Into Light by Tarron Estes

Breaking Into Light by Tarron Estes

Many people are mystified, shocked or “frozen” when they encounter the mysterious, subtle energy surrounding death. Nurses and caregivers helping people at tend of life might witness something mysterious or inexplicable. Based on their faith tradition, they may believe in the existence of such miracles, yet have no confidence or authority to validate the dying person’s experience. Caregivers may feel regret, guilt, shame or confusion because they denied their own beliefs and lost access to the portal of transformation that appeared for them and for the one passing.

What if a traditional, clinical education included training in how to validate and support the experiences of those who speak of traveling back and forth between this life and the next? How would this impact caregivers and their ability to serve the sick and the dying if they were introduced to the subtle energy realms listed below and allowed to express their own understanding of them?

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Reclaiming All-Hallow's Eve

Reclaiming All-Hallow's Eve

My mother emigrated from Poland to America in the late 1980’s. To this day, she recalls Halloween as being one of the greatest culture shocks of her life. She would often tell me that American Halloween is empty of true meaning, that it’s hollow rather than hallow. She couldn’t wrap her mind around the idea of children running around yards filled with plastic bones, cardboard tombstones, carved pumpkins, and faux cobwebs trying to fill their pillowcases or plastic jack-o-lanterns to the rim with candy from strangers; amassing as much candy as possible has become the focal point of the holiday.

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Part 4: The Vigil and Practice For Death

Part 4: The Vigil and Practice For Death

Now I use this Practice for Death as a teaching tool. Through this meditation, we can learn to support each other and to begin to internalize a profound sense of surrendering into the final moments of life. Many of our graduates express that Maha Savasana: Vigil Practice for Death is one of the most transformative experiences of their certificate training.

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Part 3: Occupy Death: Wisdom Traditions

Part 3: Occupy Death: Wisdom Traditions

Wisdom Traditions Offer Many Practices For Death last week’s blog, we explored the concept of practicing for death ….  a concept presented in the first segment of the Conscious Dying Institute’s End of Life Doula Certificate program.  The name of this first segment is: "Conscious Dying Practices For Awakening NOW!" What does this mean? Experiential transformational activities are designed specifically to help us focus on awakening our innate healing gifts and talents, awakening to the power of bold inquiry, awakening to the gift of presence. One powerful transformational activity is Maha Shavasana: Practice for Death ©  The Entire Activity is listed below. Choose a partner and practice together.

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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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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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The Space of Total Vastness by Emily Risner

The Space of Total Vastness by Emily Risner

“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 Dementia 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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