Death Doulas, AKA Death Midwives, are getting individuals, families and communities to begin thinking and talking about death differently.
These, non-medical professionals, have been trained and certified in End-of-Life process, which helps to bring continuity of care in often unmet needs of the dying. Find a credentialed EOL Doula
Western society is often death phobic, and we do not like to discuss, in depth, such things as dying, death or grief. However, this creates a problem because we are ill-prepared and unfamiliar with the process or how to meet the needs of the dying individual.
However, there are a new group of individuals that want to help change how end-of-life is experienced. These Death Doula's can help educate, bring wisdom and as much serenity as possible to these profound, life changing experiences.
Here are a few tips that may help manage mental and emotional needs:
*The following is from Cancer Council, Victoria
When you don't know what to say
People often wonder what they should say to a person who is dying.
It’s understandable that you don’t know what to say – what you feel might be so complex that it’s hard to find the right words, or any words at all.
It is common to worry about saying the wrong thing. Most times, the person who is dying will find comfort in you just being there.
Providing Comfort at the End-of-Life
What is End-of-Life comfort care?
Talking beforehand with an individual that can guide you and your loved one is helpful. However, if you are unable to do so, here are a few things to consider when an individual is dying:
What is End-of-Life (EOL) Care?
This is the support and medical care given as one is dying.
There are many decisions to be made beforehand, so if you are able, please begin having conversations with loved ones about your wishes at EOL.
Remember that dying is more than just physical. It involves emotional and spiritual aspects as well.
Pain, Breathing, Fatigue etc.
Mental and Emotional Needs:
Anxiety, depression, confusion, involvement
Some individuals may rely on faith, others may pull back from faith.
With each of these needs, involve the dying as much as you can, speak kindly and make no corrections and be emotionally and spiritually present for your loved one, so as to be able to best support them.
Please don't forget about the caregivers as well. Here are some questions you might ask those that are supporting the dying:
The dying process can be unsettling, especially when we are not comfortable, or unfamiliar, with the experience.
When we learn more about death, dying and grief, we are able to be present for the dying individual. We can bring love and comfort, while meeting the needs of the dying.
The attached article share that dying is normal stage of life, and understanding there can be various emotional and mental needs of the dying, such as:
Mood swings - the dying may have personality swings.
Anxiety - this may be due to unresolved issues with others, fear of death or leaving loved ones.
Confusion - as the physical body declines, this may add to confusion. Being kind with your words is always comforting.
Visions - dying often have "deathbed visions". These may cause discomfort for the loved ones witnessing. Please do not be alarmed or try to correct the dying. These visions do play an important role and often bring comfort to the individual.
Working with a death doula before hand may help ease some of these symptoms, in additions to speaking with medical staff or hospice support may be helpful for a greater understanding for all involved.
Life if full of:
Cycles and rhythms.
Day to night. Cold to hot. Light to dark.
Ever changing, even if we are not aware.
Our emotional cycles and rhythms also:
Ebb and flow.
Morph from happy to sad, stressed to relax.
Our physical bodies are cycles and rhythms that:
Birth - youth - adult - seniors, if we are lucky to have this long of a life span.
Life, dying and death have rhythms and cycles that:
Changes in emotions, physical and spiritual parts of our beings.
Each season and each phase of life brings us wisdom.
Tapping into this understanding allows us to honor and to see the gifts.
Connect, breathe, nourish and be true to yourself = these helps us to honor all cycles and rhythms of life and death.
How to Bring More Meaning to Dying
Death is not optional.
However, we can learn more about death and dying to become more comfortable and more aligned with the needs of the dying....we just need to learn how.
Dying is more than just physical - it's also spiritual and emotional. Understanding, on a deeper level, all of the needs of the dying, can help us to be more emotionally present for these life-altering events.
BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger share a few ideas in their book "A Beginners Guide to the End", such as:
Don't leave a mess - lighten the load on your family members, and try to purge.
Clean out your emotional attic - if you do not want personal things to be exposed after your death, please be aware to not leave "emotional bombs" for families to discover secrets.
Mend important relationships - don't leave any regrets with relationships. A Necessary Conversation recommends Repair, Release, Reconnect so you and your loved ones don't have any Regrets.
The winter solstice which occurs on December 21, 2022 is the moment the "Sun is born again".
Since the summer solstice in June of this year, the days have been getting shorter, while the nights have been getting longer, representing the decline of the sun.
However, on 12/21/22, the sun will enter a new cycle of life, and the sun will be born again, by slowly, each day, increasing until it peaks again on 6/21/23.
This cycle, which continues yearly, represents that beginning and the end of light and dark. These two entities morph into each other, going around, and around, year after year.
The spiritual meaning of the winter solstice represents new beginnings, a birth, which is an opportunity to be hopeful for the new experiences for the new year.
Take the time this December to absorb the past year's experiences - which people and events have molded you, what do you wish you could have done differently and how can you implement positive changes that align to your essence?
Rest, reflect, repurpose your soul.
December - Spiritual Literacy Month
Every December, since 1996, Spiritual Literacy Month has been observed. However, many of us have never heard of it and don't know what it means.
The purpose of Spiritual Literacy Month is to us to read at least one book on spirituality. The goal is to broaden the mind, deepen the connection to spirituality, religion or faith, and to gain wisdom from the worlds great religions and practices so that we can become a more spiritually literate society.
Challenge yourself by learning more about other faiths, become more open minded to be able to see the true connection between all religious or spiritual practices (LOVE and PEACE).
Ignite your soul - seek to learn more - understand what resonates with you and your loved ones, be kind and considerate, and truly understand that what most of us on earth just want to give and receive kindness and love.
Go within, respect all beliefs and traditions and enter the new year with wanting to reunite with what brings you solace.
Share it on social media. Be sure to use #SpiritualLiteracyMonth or #SpiritualLiteracy
Loss Doesn't Need to Be Feared
Grief is an unknown and often feared emotion.
We, as a society, do not openly speak of grief experiences, and therefore, a lot of us are left dreading this natural emotion to a loss or a death, because we are unfamiliar with it.
People often think that grief is something to get through, get over and place in a safe place that is tucked away, hoping not be brought back out to the light.
However, grief does not work this way. Grief, like life and death, are a part of our human fabric. When we love someone or something and it is no longer a part of our life, we grieve.
Grief connects us to our humanity and to our loss. Feeling, and expressing (in ways that are not harmful to ourselves or others) is powerful.
Learning tools that engage us to go deep within our souls brings us new possibilities of learning to live life, remain connected to our loved ones and to walk forward with light and love.