Monday, September 20, 2010
The Cycle of Life
I sit here this gloomy morning, trying to embrace the quiet house. I am saddened by the passing of a dear friend for over 20 years. I was searching the Internet for the perfect quote to try and send my condolences to the family. There are no words I can say to make it better, especially with the loss in my heart.
We live in a society that hardly talks about the death process. We expect that when we are old we will die. We don't expect that a young 39 year old can die. We also hardly talk about birth, just the horror stories. I have had the honor of working with pregnant couples for 9 years. Over this time, I have observed some needs that humans have. During that time I have had a few grandparents pass or be near death. In those experiences I have seen some similarities with birth. There are three types of relaxation that the body goes through: physical, mental and emotional. With either situation, you want to help the person be comfortable physically. This is the easiest part and often the only issue covered in birth and death. It is easy to rub a sore muscle or give a pain killer. The next two types of relaxation are what I feel are missing in both cases. I prepare my couple for all three, but they really have to embrace them, because they will not have much support if in a hospital setting. If they have a home birth, a midwife is well aware of physical, mental and emotional relaxation and has the tools to help you. I assumed when you are going through the death process and have hospice in the home, that they would cover all three. I was saddened to see my friend getting the best physical care, but I felt something was missing. I had a wonderful conversation with him 3 weeks ago about life and death. I talked about how fortunate he was to be at home with his family to care for his physical needs. I asked him what he was thinking about mentally. I talked to him about places to go to mentally, like a ocean, river or mountain top. Then we talked about the emotional side, the feeling safe with the process and the people helping him. He seemed touched by the gesture of my concern for the whole experience. He kept grabbing my hand and saying I love you. I told him about how the memories were going to keep his spirit alive. I have so many pictures that are of fun times. As he no longer wanted visitors I also recognized the need to retreat, to go inward. Mom's who are birthing naturally need to go into a deep trance like state to focus on nothing but what is happening. If they have unresolved issues it will hold up the birth process. The mind is powerful and can keep the body alive. The other part that I thought was nice, was the dark and calm environment. As I was there to help the last week, I represented the calm, strength and courage. I just kept telling him what a great job he was doing and how he was handling this part of the journey. This process has brought some clarity to me and also helped me recognize a special calling I may have. In birth and death it should be peaceful, feel safe and beautiful. This can be done with some guidance, as in birth you may hire a doula, in death a special friend. I feel honored that he was a part of my life. Today I will embrace my family and feel the love we share.