I’m a few weeks into the 5-in-1 death doula online training course at mourningdoula.com. I’m really enjoying it so far (even if I’ve been busy and distracted and I’m a week behind in my studies), and it’s something I’ve wanted to pursue for a few years now.
A recent assignment required me to describe how I hoped to improve the world through my newfound skills. I thought I’d share what I wrote here.
I laid my hand on Tommy’s arm, shrouded in formal wool, solid, immobile. I wasn’t scared to touch, I was scared of how I would feel if I didn’t.
After Petey died I saw him twice, but I didn’t touch. I was in shock. I knew I needed to see him, but I was unaware of how important making physical contact would be to me long-term. I let fear and uncertainty dictate my actions, and within the weeks following his funeral I regretted my lack of mindfulness; the squandering of my last chance to connect with someone who meant so much to me.
As a massage therapist and esthetician I touch people for a living. I’m a big-time hugger. Why should the importance of touch vacate my genetic makeup when a loved one died?
I truly believe if I had a death doula in my corner I would’ve felt comfortable and confident enough to touch Petey at the funeral home, through the blue cotton sheet the first time, or over his clothing in his casket the second time. I wouldn’t have subconsciously talked myself out of it. I would’ve felt that if someone with more knowledge than myself had given me permission to do a very meaningful and reasonable thing, I wouldn’t have messed anything up by doing it. I would’ve been aware of options, possibilities and regrets.
At Tommy’s funeral I guess I served as my own death doula. I instructed myself to rise from the pew, traverse the entire length of the center aisle, converse with his parents who I hadn’t met until that day, approach the casket and share a moment with my friend, my hand on his arm. I spoke to him with my mind and heart, and despite the surreal experience of losing someone so young so suddenly, I walked away feeling calm and grounded.
With my death doula training I hope to support others in their expressions of love and their journeys for peace, and to serve as an advocate during these hard times.