How do we comprehend or understand the death of our loved one, physically gone as their energy or soul continues on their spiritual path but their physical path is now over. 

For me, from different ages I have experienced death and loss in many formats and it’s never an easy process to fathom or at times live with or without. However it will be part of our life’s either way.

When does it become ok not to have a person physically in your life each day, when does it not become ok for that person to continue on the next part of their life’s purpose, all such big questions that I have pondered for many years. Through anger, pain, hurt, tears, laughter, joy, experiences, from keeping it to myself, to sharing it with others.

At the age of thirteen, my Father passed away in his sleep in the room next to mine. For many, many years I didn’t want to chat about death, even though a family friend, Fr Des, would remind me that our loved ones were now on their spiritual journey, always by our sides, just not physically. We make new stories from our old memories, or is it, we make new memories from the old stories. Well he would always encourage us, chatting, making it a lot easier to talk about death and those who had gone before us.

I was brought up in a Roman Catholic household. And I am very, very proud of that. It gave me ceremony, ritual, faith, believe outside of myself, and in something bigger than human life. It showed me, actually my parents showed me with devotion, comes faith, and belief will follow. Trust. Allowing me to explore many other aspects of spirituality and finding my way of expressing and connecting to a Divine within and around me.

It is said that grief includes an acute phase, which happens shortly after a loss is experienced. However this also happens when one gets a terminal diagnosis or have a knowing of the end of their physical existence. Some people experience acute grief which looks and feels different for everyone; sadness, longing to be with the person who was lost or for the life they have, thoughts and memories can come flooding back, anxiety, anger, numbness, regret. This is very individual, these feelings and thoughts are a normal reaction to a person at the end stage of their life and similar to those losing someone.

When someone is in the midst of grieving, their brain begins processing their emotional responses and re-organizing their new reality. This can be incredibly exhausting and can lead to feeling fatigued, mentally foggy, and somewhat disconnected from reality. When someone is grieving, they are internally processing a loss, or they like me may decide to shut down. When you have received the news that you may have a short amount of time to live this is where I come in, as an End of Life Doula.

When it comes to the end of our physical existence here upon the Earth, who looks after us, who looks after our loved ones. As an end of life Doula my role is to support the person who is leaving their physical body, and those who are left behind. I do this through a support system which is put in place along with the client/patient and their family, from an emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual aspect. My passion is to support, guide, inform in a caring, knowledgeable way to help with this process that comes to us all, yet we can find so difficult. At times the patient may be in a space where they can discuss and share their wishes with their loved ones. Then there are times that, this is not possible. In both situations I’m here to help, support and guide you all, through one of life’s final moments. Making this time as special, safe, sacred and loving for each person.

Grief can mean different things for different people and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. I truly know this. While grief refers to the internal experiences of loss, mourning is best defined as acts or outward expressions of grief. Many individuals portray their mourning by preparing for a funeral, wearing black or sharing memories or stories about a loved one. These parts of the mourning process can be impacted by cultural practices or rituals, and can give structure to the grieving process. Mourning cannot be measured by others as too short or too lengthy or painful, as it is a healthy part of bereavement. Mourning can help people preserve the memory of loved ones and feel hopeful about living a happy and fulfilling life without them, physically by their side.

However mourning is not always shrouded in black and sadness, it can be planting trees, fulfilling promises, writing, travelling, healing oneself, and exploring life in the now.

Celebrating the life of our loved ones is a personal journey, if you get the chance to have that conversation, do it now. Don’t wait until it’s too late, wondering if they’d like this or that, would they have wanted that etc. You can truly celebrate someone when they are here and when they leave their physical body, honouring and recognising their life path and how they impacted others. It’s not our Ego getting in the way, when we have spoken to them to discuss what their wishes may be. We are not all blessed to have this time with our loved ones, so we have to do what we feel is best in celebrating and remembering them.

“Doula” is a Greek word that means non-medical person that gives physical, emotional and spiritual support to someone else. An End-of-life Doula is a non-medical professional that provides holistic support for the dying and their loved ones before, during, and after death.  Trained in the various end of life stages I as a Doula am able to assist you, and your family with understanding the natural processes while providing comfort and support. An End of Life Doula can also be known as a Death Doula, Death Midwife, or End of Life Guide.

As an End of Life Doula I will;

Provide support and care for those in the last phases of life. Recognising for us all dying is a natural part of the normal process of living.

Together we will focus on quality of life for individuals and their family caregivers.

I am not replacing any medical care or family, I am an additional support and guide at this sacred time. ©

Margaret @ Amethyst Health