Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Circle of Life

When I was growing up my aunt and uncles loo used to be covered in little handwritten quotes, or sayings people had thought were funny, thing like "the meek shall inherit the earth, if that's ok with the rest of you" or "bad spellers untie!" One that was at eye level was " the first 3 minutes of life are the most dangerous, the last 3 are pretty dodgy too" 

Sometimes I am surprised at how much of my life seems to be about birth and death.  When you are around both things so often it makes you realise how close these things really are.  We all talk about it, everyone says it, but I wonder how many people realise how right it truly is. 

Today I was thinking about the career path I have chosen being there at the beginning of life (well autonomous life anyway) and it suddenly struck me that I had once spent some time with a woman who was a funeral director (Michelle), we talked about her job and what it entailed and she mentioned that she thought that I would make a good funeral director, at the time I was a little taken aback but the more I think about it I realise that the role of a doula and childbirth educator is very similar to that of a funeral director, you could even think of a funeral director as a doula for the dying, or for the dead.

I didn't make that term up, there are actually people who call themselves doulas for the dying and I think that a good funeral director is exactly that.  Michelle counseled my family when my mum died suddenly, she sat with us for hours while we grieved, she walked us through the decisions we had to make, she cared for my mums body and our families hearts during this time.  When my Aunt was told her cancer was terminal we all got together and Michelle came out to her home.  Libby talked about what she hoped for after her life was over and we talked about the details that we, her family, needed to know, what would happen, what choices were available etc.

In the same way as in birth the dying and the family of the dying need support, guidance and most importantly they need love.  I wonder if I would ever have the strength of character needed to make a career in the end of life , I wonder if like michelle I could find the gift in loving people through the last experience they will ever have.

Death is sad and scary and every time someone I know dies it lays heavily in my heart, but that is just one side of death because as certainly being with one aunt who died and another living with the knowledge she will soon die has given me cause to grieve and rant and mourn it has given me many more gifts, insight into my character, the ability to show love and peace with the ideas of life coming to an end somehow at sometime.

Birth and death are bound together so tightly, that the closer you look the more you realise how similar they really are, and what a gift it is to be around both.

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