Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag | Page 51

My work is based on this principle: That when we experience care, love and healing, the nature of our heart is to give back what we have received. I grew up in a Tennessee town of 1,200 people, a community where everyone showed up for births, weddings, deaths and funerals. At an early age I was witnessing these sacred transitions and felt comfortable being a part of them. My mother was a natural caregiver. Throughout my childhood I went with her as she visited people who were sick or dying. My best friend’s parents owned a funeral home. I watched her dad embalm bodies. I helped families prepare meals for after the funeral. I saw families in the parlor, praying on their knees, grieving. Today we're living in a death denying culture where most of us have never expressed pain, grief, sadness, anger, or fear. We have no idea what we have lost by living in a culture where grief is rarely fully expressed. Grief is a primary means of re-setting, re- wiring and calming our nervous system to inner peace. People come to learn how to be with people who are dying, but it’s essentially about all human-to-human connection. I founded the Conscious Dying Institute as an end-of-life doula education and healthcare training organization that expands the innate healing presence of frontline caregiving. Our programs instill the confidence to have end-of- life conversations, while preparing doulas who offer multi-dimensioned healing care to patients in hospices, senior communities, and large healthcare systems across the United States and Canada. Though palliative and hospice care are a part of most major hospital system practices, most medically based caregivers have neither the time nor training to support the patient beyond pharmaceutical pain management. The doula care model enhances support to patients and their families through dedicated attention to emotional and spiritual dimensions of the death experience. Doula education is a grassroots movement like natural birthing was decades ago. There are probably more people training to become a doula than there are people who know that end -of- life doulas exist. We are creating a “Doula Careforce” that will respond to the growing desire for conscious and natural ways to die. Death is finally being integrated VOLUME III | 51