Death touches us all, many times throughout our own lifetime. In Australia, a shift around death practices during the last one hundred years has seen death managed by medical and funeral institutions. As a result, death moved from our families, homes and communities behind closed doors.
A fear of death has settled into our culture. Whilst fear is a natural response to the unknown, the pendulum has swung too far the other way. We have become disconnected with the dying process we were familiar with in times past. Dying has become something to fight against and deny. When we face death in our own lives it can be crippling and disempowering, or not spoken about even when it's staring us in the face. There is another way, internal inquiry is beckoning us.
Indigenous cultures here and around the world know the fundamental and intrinsic cycles of nature, of life and death. Each culture has its own traditions, ritual and ceremony around death and dying supporting a process for the journey towards and often beyond death. We can learn from the knowledge that death is integral to being alive, part of a process in which we must all participate. Leaning into the full experience can lead us through the rawness of death so we can travel this rich road holding each other with love and compassion, in acceptance for what is.
What would you need to do to say goodbye to your life...
to find meaning, to say thank you, I love you, to ask for and give forgiveness?
Opening up to the experience of our own mortality, or that of someone close to us, starkly reminds us of the fragility, the incredible beauty and sacredness of life. It brings into focus a perspective that's easy to take for granted in the busy-ness of life. Coming face-to-face with death intensifies life, offering us endless possibilities for cultivating deeper experiences of living more boldly, more freely and more richly until we take our last breath.
Death holds possibility for a HUGE range of emotions and experiences. Death can be tragic, heartbreaking, exhausting, frightening, and challenging beyond belief. At the same time death can be sacred, locating us in a place of great love, holding a richness that can be totally unexpected, beautiful and expansive to say the very least.
As each of us contemplates our death, ideally we are supported to explore and honour our wishes. Growing an openness towards death for ourselves enables us to move between our many layers of emotion associated with death. Openness creates space to breathe as each moment offers up its blessings and challenges. We learn that living and dying more consciously is possible and important for ourselves, our families, for others in our lives and our communities.
At first, talking about death and dying can feel, at the very least, uncomfortable.
For some it can be overwhelming. Actually making plans for our end-of-life can be downright confronting. It all depends where we're sitting with death right now.
Death may happen tragically, suddenly, unexpectedly, or it may be expected through age or illness. However it comes, death can be a time of overwhelming emotions and great personal turmoil.
When you learn you or someone you love has a life-limiting illness you may feel shock and disbelief. Following, there are likely to be questions about many aspects of death, deep fears to sit with, and layers of emotion to navigate. There's a lot to cope with, it's an incredibly intense time.
An end-of-life doula is a calm presence on your journey supporting you at a time of transition in the way you choose for yourself. When death comes into your own private world and you find yourself looking towards end-of-life for yourself or someone you love, you may not know what you want or where to start. A doula supports you to find your own way.
Wherever you are right now, at any stage on your journey,
a doula will walk beside you so you can find what's right for you.
With support you are free to explore your feelings about death whilst being open to the many potential gifts to be found. Gifts like healing, letting go,
new ways of being in or leaving this world. Support can make the journey richer,
more peaceful, and much less isolating. Life's transitions can be our most
challenging times. They can also be our most beautiful and precious.
For everyone, old or young, now is a great time to be prepared for death. We don't know what the future holds for us and preparation is the foundation of every important journey we will take, especially our death.
Listed on the resources page you'll find websites and information to support you to open a dialogue with death, exploring and learning more about end-of-life choices.
Be inspired to talk with those in your life and community about living, dying and grieving well, and what you might choose for your end-of-life.
Thought Provoking Reading
A fantastic book about death is the personal story of facing death by Australian writer Cory Taylor. Cory's book: Dying, A Memoir - is a raw and honest insight into Cory's own journey towards death and her emotional process in navigating this journey. I highly recommend this read.