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The common threads of birth, death and rituals

  • Confused

  • Overwhelmed

  • Sad

  • Hopeful

  • Anxious

  • Grateful

  • Scared

  • Angry

  • Isolated

  • or all at once

These are some of the feelings we may experience when we just learnt of our loved one terminal diagnosis (or our own). Remember when I spoke about my stages of Anticipatory Grief? This is all very similar, it is all connected. It is all part of preparing, even unconsciously for the end of life. It is our body, our brain trained to deal with all of those emotions and at some point, make sense of them

On birth & death

When we are expecting a baby, a new life in this world, we prepare. There is a lot of pre-work expected to be done by the parents-to-be. Future parents embrace a learning journey in order to be as prepared as possible for something that will change their lives forever. There is a lot of uncertainty, but we still want to be as armed as possible. We paint and decorate rooms, buy new things for the newborn to be as comfortable as possible and potentially a nice chair for us too.

Now, imagine this approach for end of life… how would it look like? Why do you think there is so much preparedness in birth but maybe not so much for death?

Society has been forgetting some of the traditions and rituals that looked at death as the end of a cycle in this world. Something hard but inevitable. Something to be appreciative about, something that ground us to the core of who we are -human beings with a beginning and an end-. People have stoped dying at home, around their loved ones, especially in the Western world. - I know it is not always possible to plan for these situations and things could change even with plan due to different circumstances.-

There are tons of people investing in new tech and medicine to live as long as possible. It seems that we want to become something we are not, or are we trying to avoid the hard truth of our existence? Of course, this does not apply to all, but if you are still reading, I bet these thoughts have crossed your mind at some point.

During my End-of-Life Doula course, we were shown this video of a teenage boy expressing his grief to a traditional ritual in a memorial. I invite you to spend a few minutes of your life to witness how powerful rituals can be to express our emotions and honour our loved ones as well 👇

So, where do we start?

There is no easy way around it, considering how difficult the topic can be for us. However, there are a few things you could start considering if you feel you want to start preparing yourself, regardless of where you are in your journey. Here are a few ideas:

  • Support groups on social media (i.e. Facebook) - you will be surprised how many of these are out there!

  • Therapy / counselling

  • Get yourself some pen and paper (or your computer) and try to write how you feeling

  • Friends & family

  • Talk to an End-of-Life Doula

  • Read books/articles about the topic - I have previously recommended ‘Staring at the Sun’ by my favourite writer Irvin Yalom. ‘The Tibetan book of living and dying’ by Sogyal Rinpoche is also a great place to start - it is quite a big book so take it easy!

Just today I came across this quote…

No man understands a deep book until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents

Ezra Pound

& now…

Take a moment to think of these questions:

  1. How do you feel about death and dying? What does this mean to you?

  2. Do you have any rituals or traditions you would like your loved ones to follow?

  3. What are the things you would not want to be left unsaid?

👇 and please share your answers with me, I would love to read them (I promise I will with you the answers -anonymously-)

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See you next week!


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