One Perspective on Life
When you press pause on the hustle of life, there's a subtle message within it all:
you are not just a physical body.
You are soul, a divine awareness that’s both childlike and wise ~ alive and well and powerful.
When you venture too far off course from this knowing, and forget, life has a way of bringing you back again. And you go from gaining your footing and confidence to losing it again. Pain, whether emotional or physical, serves as an impetus for change in life. It calls you to rise up to be more. It can, that is, if you let it, if you want to grow and evolve, and if you want to feel more joy.
This inner work becomes a ‘dying daily’ ~ dying to old concepts of yourself in order to make room for the birth of new ones. With this perspective, you start to view death in a new light as both a metaphorical death as well as actual physical death to your body. And in this way, death doesn’t feel as negative as we’ve been led to believe.
My passion lies in increasing awareness of death. Changing perspectives about the dying process, naming it a friend, and creating better living. I have felt a large pull towards the last phase of life, and see it as a time of equally as much joy as it is sorrow. I empower others to do the same with my presence that is lovingly open to greater possibilities for us all.
I was able to be present at my brother’s first child’s home-birth. I witnessed the midwife urging my sister-in-law through the process. It was a home-birth. The intensity, followed by the release and bliss we all felt when my nephew came into the world was overwhelmingly familiar to what I’d felt as an in-home caregiver and death doula for the dying. To me, death and birth are as similar as a sunset is to a sunrise.
Kindness goes a long way while experiencing difficult transitions. Forgiveness does too. Humor and laughter become key as well. Learning to respond to these challenges with an unconditional love for ourselves with no agenda. The focus becomes allowing ourselves to be supported and make the most out of this beautiful life with what time we have.
When we have compassion for ourselves and others we notice most of us are living with some grief. Grief can be seen truly as just love with no place to go. I enjoy working with people with their grief, because it always boils down to a love story. At the essence of this work, I get to witness incredible love stories.
My mom died when I was a teenager. She had cancer and chose not to do chemo or radiation. Caring for her in our home was one of the most difficult things I've done, and being with her as she took her last breath is by far one of the most important things I've done. I was deeply affected by how few individuals knew much about 'sitting by the fire', as I've come to call being close to someone who is dying. Those who did, like our hospice nurse, became my heroes.
I began learning as much as possible about the death and dying process as a way to understand life. It seemed strange to me that we all die but have such a strong aversion to facing it. Death, dying, and losing someone we love are such sensitive topics. Even though it's one of the most natural parts of life, it is also one of the most confronting.
First, as an eldercare volunteer in 2001, then a hospice volunteer, and finally a self-employed, in-home, end-of-life caregiver in 2007, I began my career and training in Thanatology: death dying and bereavement. 20 years later, I'm an end-of-life care coach, hospice educator, and certified in Thanatology through the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).
Encouraging open, frank conversations among family members and friends to start getting their affairs in order and serving as an advocate for the dying and the ones who have the courage to care for them in their home are the most rewarding things I do. It is a sacred time of life and an honor to witness someone's last moments. It's incredible to see what we, as humans, are capable of, and the power of love that can shine through this last phase of a life.
Certifications, Training &
Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement
Association for Death Education and Counseling - Since 2015
Hospice Maui, Community Outreach Liaison - Currently
Navian Hospice (formerly Hospice Hawaii), Physician Community Liaison
Presbyterian Medical Services Hospice Santa Fe, NM
Eldercare/ End-of-Life Care