We are going to transform. Period.

I haven’t written about death since the coronavirus descended upon us. Yet death is relevant in several ways right now. Not just that death is the possible outcome for a few of the people who contract COVID-19. Not just that death hovers closer in our awareness than ever before. But also because death is part of transformation. Think back to the caterpillar—it must completely disintegrate in order to provide the necessary material for a butterfly to come to life.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve heard two interviews which reminded me that death is an integral part of transformation. Sarah Kerr is a death doula whose work speaks to me. In this podcast, she’s in converstion with author and coach Michael Bungay Stanier. On his podcast, We Will Get Through This, he asks the very best in the world how to stay resilient. Facing death is part of that.

Listen here. Click button “Listen on Apple Podcasts” and scroll down to #29.

Zach Bush is a medical doctor with a unique combination of interests, including topics such as the role of soil and water ecosystems in human genomics, immunity, and gut/brain health. He is also a hospice doctor. His passion, as stated on his website, is “applying the rigor of science, strength of humanity, and the intelligence of nature to transform health and our world.” This video is the last few minutes of a longer interview about what we are doing to the environment.But that’s not what it’s about…

If the video does not show up, you can see it here.

Dr. Bush’s description of the Intensive Care Unit reminds me of the question of ventilators and COVID-19. As it happens, also in the past 24 hours, I sent my sons a message—an addition to my personal directive—letting them know that I do not want to be put on a ventilator. I did a lot of reading about it, and my reasons are summarized in this New York Times article by a medical doctor and this article from ABC News, also written by a doctor describing a better alternative. If you have not yet thought about this and made your wishes known, now is the time.

And so…

We are going to transform, one way or another. Are you going to go kicking and screaming, whimpering and complaining, or with grace and ease? And, I wonder, what would grace and ease look like?

Your thoughts?

Setting the tone when you’re seriously ill or dying…

-*** Time for this post? Reading…8 minutes. Viewing…9 minutes. Thinking about what you would do…as you wish.

After writing last week’s blog about being with the dying, it occurred to me that…

As such, we have responsibilities…

Continue reading

What is a Death Doula?

***  Time for this post? Reading…5 minutes. Viewing…8 + 57 + 13 minutes. Exploring the highlighted resources…ongoing.

A doula is a non-medical person who provides support and nurturing to a person in life transition. Birth doulas provide information and nurturing care before and during birth, and death doulas do the same in the days and months leading up to death.

Death doulas generally have a holistic view that encompasses the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of end-of-life experiences, working with the family as well as the individual.

Other terms used to describe this work include end-of-life doula, end-of-life coach, end-of-life guide, death midwife, soul midwife, transition guide, death coach, and doula to the dying. Practitioners may have completed a certification course for death doulas, and usually bring a rich background of other training and skills that help them guide people through the end-of-life experience.

Who is a death doula?

Continue reading