I know from my previous experiences all those years ago of working in children’s hospices that, when people asked what I did as a job, the discomfort on their faces and the ensuing silence said it all. People didn’t know how to follow that up.
And that was totally understandable.
Now I have circled back round to end of life care as a doula and in a children’s hospice (whilst continuing my laughter, meditation and cuddle therapy work) I find that little has changed. It’s a real conversation killer but it doesn’t have to be that way.
If I tell people I work with laughter, meditation and cuddle therapy it brings curiosity, smiles, engagement and nods.
If I tell people I work in end of life care the conversation falters.
If I tell people I work part time in a children’s hospice the conversation pretty much crashes.
If I tell people I’m an End of Life Doula there is more curiosity. Perhaps it’s the word “doula” that softens it or invites more conversation?
I completely get it – it’s not an easy subject.
Part of my work as a doula is starting these conversations or supporting others in starting these conversations. The more comfortable we get with talking about it ourselves the easier it get’s with listening to others talking about it. It’s a symbiotic relationship with the talking and listening and how our brains and hearts engage in both activities around such an emotive topic. Talking about it doesn’t mean you’ll die sooner but it may mean you will be more empowered when the time does come.
Talking about end of life, death and dying can be pretty life affirming and not the morbid conversation that you envisage. What better way to understand the preciousness of the time we have – right up until death. It’s about finding joy, peace, resolution, love and friendship. Remember – dying isn’t separate from living – it is part of living. And, if someone tells you they work in the field of end of life care or the death profession I invite you to take a pause and a breath and ask them about it. Believe me when I tell you that they are likely to feel joy at being asked and you may have your mind and heart pleasantly opened.