I had a very poignant reminder today from a beautiful client and friend just how fragile we are when life throws us a challenge. Without going into too much detail as what we talked about was confidential … it made me sit and think this afternoon about how we prepare for death … yes I said death. It’s fine if you want to step away and go read something else or perhaps stay and see where this goes …
I honestly can say (hand on heart) that I was petrified of death and would become very upset about what I would miss and those that I would leave behind … this stemmed from my latter teenage years and really escalated when I had our first baby, even more so when I had our second. But it’s odd how a life experience can really change how you see something and how you are prepared to break and overcome the big “white elephant” that sits in the corner of your life and keeps nudging at you …
It’s important to acknowledge that you are scared of things and not fear that someone will ridicule you for this. At the end of the day it’s important to face your fears. How I hear you ask?
The following has some useful tips: Link
For me it was to face the fear directly, yes I did journal after the event and periodically I use this blog to explore … so how did I face the fear … I met it head on and decided that I would doula my grandmother in her final hours & days with us. I didn’t have the luxury of my nana talking to me in her final days as she was given large doses of morphine … so I never had the odd conversations I had had with my other nana when she was going through the final stages of her life. My mum experienced nursing her to the end and it wasn’t pleasant. The after effect and months of strain really showed on my mum and affected her at a deep level. So for her to not be there when her own mother passed away was something she felt very deeply. Their connection was amazing and my mum says she knew when she passed even though she was on a cruise at the time. As a family we had persuaded them that they should take this holiday and to enjoy themselves. It obviously was tinged with sadness because they had lost someone very special to them.
So what is a death doula? This article explains what soul midwives, death doulas and end of life companions are. The role is similar to that of a birth doula which welcomes life into the work, holding the space for the mother & baby, ensuring that the environment is calm and relaxing ….
Final Flings articles says:
“A dying person often cycles through emotions – lonely, lost, scared, stuck, regretful, angry, resolved, resistant, submissive. An end of life companion can fill an emotional and spiritual gap by being alongside them at this challenging time. This is especially valuable as we live increasingly scattered, independent and mobile lives – often with no close family or friends to support at the end of life. ”
For some of us we choose to be there every day but there are some that cannot cope with seeing their loved one decline and change from healthy to very ill. This is a choice again that should be respected. They are the one’s that have to find their comfort zone and will be the ones that will have to face making this choice and whether they have any regrets.
What is important is you! How you are coping, how you are being supported, how you are supporting those close to you? How you are supporting the one who will depart?
I remember being asked if I would ever consider being an end of life companion because of my doula role and at the time I felt very unsure because of my fear, also that I wouldn’t be very good at this and wouldn’t know what to do.
So how did my doula skills help and support the final days and hours of my Nana’s time with us. I sat and chatted quietly to her, made sure she was comfortable, hydrated and aware through touch that I was with her. I read to her and chatted like she was fully awake and holding a conversation with me. It was very one sided but I honestly do believe that she was aware of me being there. Yes I had tears and took comfort breaks and would go and touch base with the staff for a few minutes occasionally. The room was kept calm, relaxed and lighting was low. Holding her space and ensuring that she felt protected.
They eventually sent me home as I had been there all day and said they would call if there were any changes … I remember saying bye bye and as I walked out thinking that I hoped I would see her again but knew in my heart that I probably wouldn’t. I came home to cuddles with my children and husband to try and explain that great-nanny was very poorly. There were tears, some laughter, little reminisces as we sat and then the phone rang and I just knew … my husband was fabulous he took the call and yes she had passed with just one person with her, a lovely lady from the nursing home. She picked her time and knew that those she loved were together.
So how did this help me face my fear? My grandmother was a fighter and would always endeavour to find a solution, would ensure that no one ever stayed mad at each other, would make the most amazing pies (apple, gooseberry) and would spend quality time with you. I always felt close to her, she raised me for the first 6 – 10 months of my life, I walked for her first and she never said a word to my parents just ensured I did it for them when I was with them. She was unique … a true warrior woman and a pillar of her community … yes she had this wonderful habit of flying down the hill at 5pm to do her shopping having spent all day either pottering in her gardens, or playing the piano/organ or baking and then deciding that she needed x, y or z. She was always there for us. She was our church organist when we got married and I felt so proud of her. She was right up there with us at the front of the church when we exchanged our vows and I felt her strength.
So in her final days and hours I felt that I had to be there for her. Her strength when she was truly at her most vulnerable helped me to see that we shouldn’t fear death, that we should in actual fact live life as fully as we can and celebrate every day. We should talk about our fears and address them, we should support each other and know that there is someone who has experienced what you are going through and acknowledge that it’s good to talk, thanks Buzby, that there is a door open and a cuppa and cake on hand with a listening ear and a box of tissues.
Be brave, connect with them and enjoy the time you have with them. Create more memories to go with the ones you already have. Don’t ever underestimate the power of touch and voice. They know you are there with them until they decide to take the last step.
For those of you who know me well, I am forever finding feathers in the house, in the car, in my husbands car, in my pockets and I am a great believer they are left to remind me that I am being protected and looked after from the loved ones who have sadly departed us and I would like to think and believe that they are all reunited up there and having a wonderful time. Have a glass or too of happiness as we remember you all very fondly and with a huge dose of love.
I apologise if you are now reaching for the tissues … this is for my dear client and friend and I hope you find the strength to support your loved one. Hugs Cx
Rite of Passage was written a little while ago but started this journey so I attach the link … http://rippleeffectyoga.co.uk/?p=3464