“You’ve probably never done this before. It might feel weird, or vulnerable, but you’re doing it! That’s awesome!”
That's what my yoga instructor recently said while guiding me and the rest of my class into an unusual pose. I laughed silently, thinking “That’s exactly how my clients feel at the beginning!” After all, it's my job to help people do something that sometimes initially feels weird, vulnerable and maybe even scary…and then feel awesome about it.
Why does it feel so weird? Well, talking about death and dying is something we don’t do well in our modern culture. 150 years ago, things were simpler; people died at home and their loves ones cared for them. Now, we live longer and have more options (and decisions to make!) than ever. But, instead of talking more and earlier, we talk later and less. It's true for everyone; even some doctors I know shy away from talking about it. So, like other “taboo” things, we create a lot of unnecessary fear around death and dying. We don't ask questions and we lack information. When we are confronted by death and dying and can't avoid it any longer, we realize how unprepared we are, and we feeloverwhelmed or even panicky. This hurts my heart! I've sat with panicky people, and I've sat with peaceful people; the only difference is onegood conversation. Remember when Mr. Rogers said "What's mentionable is manageable?" Let's mention death and dying, and let's manage our thoughts and feelings, together! I want to rent the world's biggest skywriter to say loud and clear: We can do so much better! We can choose to have better discussions, sooner. Let's get clear about your options for end of life care, and what you want to happen after you die. Let's get creative with the details of the fitting send off you deserve. Let's make sure you're where you want to be when you are approaching death. Let's make sure you're empowered, safe, peaceful and comfortable all the way till the end. Let's make sure your loved ones know how to take care of you. You are unique in death as you are in life. There are no absolute right choices, and the only wrong choice is no choice at all.
Life is a long series of small choices. End of life choices should be honored as some of the most important we make. A doula, or “one who serves” (from Greek) at a birth or a death, provides a soft place to land at the bookends of life. It is my honor to help you get there.
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