A Sacred Passage: End-of-Life Doula Student’s Experience
I have been through Phase One of CDI’s Sacred Passage": End-of-Life Doula Certificate program. I have learned a lot, felt a lot, and been given a framework to work with those who are dying and those who want to engage with the energy of death to create clarity and completion in their life. And I am very much still a nubile in this work. So what now, now the fun begins.
Before the next training I was asked to pair up with one individual from my cohort and separately work with two other individuals in my community as I walked them through the Best Three Months To Live framework. I was also led through this framework by my cohort “buddy” and this is primarily what I will be speaking about.
The Best 3 Months to Live Framework
The Best Three Months to Live framework was masterfully downloaded, tweaked, and integrated into this work by Tarron Estes. To give a bit of context, this facilitated process activates and works within 5 dimensions of Self - Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Practical. Starting with the end in mind and with the support of a facilitator/doula, the participant lives into what it would be like to feel complete in each of these domains. What does this look like? How does it feel? What has occurred to create this feeling of completion? We then work to distill, visualize and imagine the details of these sensations and this reality. Once we know where we are going, we take an honest and courageous look at our life as it stands now in relation to this complete future reality. In my case, the two never lined up verbatim, giving me opportunity for growth and work. The next step involves creating action steps to walk closer to this state of completion. The magic of this process lies in the building relationship between the user and death. We are using death as an honest mirror of our lives allowing for distillation and truthful reflection to occur.
What does this mean?
For example, when I worked through this process myself the domain of Spirit felt pretty good. My current reality was close to my end: surrendering to and trusting Spirit to guide my life while activating prayer and ritual everyday. The emotional domain had a larger gap between where I felt complete and where I was; I had some relationships to heal, some things to share, and some forgiveness of Self to be had. The practical domain had the largest gap. I had never thought of the logistics of what happens after I die and this illuminated a sphere I had never considered. Do I need a will? What goes in my will? Are there special things I want passed on to specific people? What happens to my body after I die? Where will I find a funeral pyre in Colorado? What do I want happening at my funeral? Who will be there? Do I want someone specific to speak about my life? Who?
And it was similar to this for all the people I have worked with thus far. No one is perfect, we all have gaps and everyone has them in different places. One person I worked with had all the practical dialed in and when I asked what Spirit meant to her, she told me she had never considered this before. It's beautiful in this way, we are all just walking each other home illuminating and mirroring back onto each others lives.
And in this way, the work is so humbling and allowed me to be a student throughout. While I was facilitating this process for others, the amount of courage, vulnerability, and wisdom shared was incredible. I felt that everyone I worked with was there to illuminate something, teach me something through the well-worn story of their lives. Seeing people in a new light where every wrinkle, scar, and perfect imperfection on their body became alive and earned. Marks of bliss, stress, sacrifice, joy, regret, connection to the earth, work ethic, love, and heartbreak were illuminated through story and authentic connection. And the beautiful choice to live well in hopes of dying in the same way.
This blog post was a gracious contribution made by a Sacred Passage End of Life Doula student, Brad Smith.
Brad has worked and studied around the world supporting people of all ages to step into their sacred walk, wherever it is taking them. From adolescents’ rites of passage to Death and dying and many points in between, Brad supports people in building relationship between themselves and the sacred mysteries.
Brad has recently left his career with Boulder County’s Sustainability Office to hit the road and be a mobile death doula and student of wisdom keepers of various lineages.