Sacred Passage End of Life Doula: Phase One

Sacred Passage End of Life Doula: Phase One

This is part of my story of becoming. Becoming who I am, a medicine for others to tap into and utilize. I am becoming a Sacred Passage End of Life (Death) Doula because like many reading this, I feel a pull  towards facilitating people of all ages in acknowledging their mortality to more truly live the life they desire and supporting individuals in their more immediate dying process. Beyond this, something about it simply feels “right”. I chose to take a training that I could begin to put into practice immediately, as opposed to a 2 year masters program or something of the like. 

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A Death Doula's Intro to Purpose

A Death Doula's Intro to Purpose

Ego pontem - “I am a bridge” - would seem to be the most accurate way of expressing who I am, although my best friend would argue that I am a lighthouse (ego sum praeberi fari). I have always been someone to try to bring encouragement to others, to cheer them on as they make their way in life, art, relationships or health crisis’. I bring joy and use heart-led conversations to illuminate their paths, while they find “their way” in peace.

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End of Life Choices

End of Life Choices

While many roads can fundamentally lead to this redemptive place, the first step is living consciously in relationship with a singular truth: we are all going to die.

To acknowledge this truth is essential in navigating a beautiful death. To deny this truth is the surest chance to create a passing mired in struggle and fear.

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Acknowledging Loss and Grief

Acknowledging Loss and Grief

I knew I was pregnant.
My husband and I had just started trying for our second child, and having been pregnant before I was picking up on subtle (and not so subtle) changes - what I thought was morning sickness, a certain aching in my back, and the exhaustion that a full night's rest could not cure. Before even mentioning it to my husband he asked if he should pick up a pregnancy test because he was picking up on my symptoms too. Excitedly we waited for a positive result.

And it was negative.

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Death Doula Training

Death Doula Training

A Sacred Passage End of Life Doula Graduate shares her story - “My friend was having a very difficult time accepting the reality that her mom was nearing the end of her earthly journey. By this point, her mom was unable to speak very much after surviving and overcoming a debilitating stroke several years ago. When I visited with them, I engaged with the lovely elder by asking those big, bold questions. By the end of our conversations and prayers, her daughter KNEW that what she wished was not reality…”

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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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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 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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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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Rites of Passage or Right to Die?: Beyond legsilation for end of life

Rites of Passage or Right to Die?: Beyond legsilation for end of life

Beyond “Right to Die” to Rites of Passage: An Alternative view of Canada’s Legislation. What does this really mean? I believe it reflects a heightened listening to humanity's desire to restore death to its sacred place in the beauty, mystery and celebration of life.

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