"I want to live in a world where we honour our elders, care for our dying with reverence and grace accept the wrinkles on our faces, accept each other’s grief and not try to “get through it” all the time, and talk about our dying as openly as we do everything else. I want everyone as comfortable holding the hand of their dying loved one as they are holding the new baby in the family. Those are just some of the things I long for."
"When we encounter death, it is profoundly simple, but as we go about our lives, we lose touch with that simplicity. Simplicity is experience pared down to raw essentials, with nothing added on or removed; therefore, it is without deception. When we have lost touch with ourselves and one another, the simplicity of death can bring us back quite powerfully to what really matters."
"There's a tremendous increase in healing and acceptance of death for the family to touch and see and be with the departed" "it's very empowering at a time when you feel like everything's out of control."
Imagine doing death differently
We all know that we will die, although we don’t know when. It could be sudden with no warning or it could be something we expect. It is more common to have some sense of the timing. Two-thirds of Canadians die from chronic conditions, including cancer. Despite this, most of us are not ready to support our loved ones as they die, and we approach our own dying with little advanced preparation.
What if… we prepared our lives so that our affairs were in order and there was no last minute uncertainty and stress that can take ours and our family’s time and energy away from being present to the work of dying?
What if… we had open conversations about death, in which we could share our thoughts, desires, and fears?
What if… we felt confident and comfortable to support our loved ones to die peacefully, where and how they want?
What if… we had the resources and supports we needed to prepare for and die well on our terms?
What if… we could approach our own death knowing that we are prepared despite our desire not to die?
As an end-of-life navigator, I am committed to providing the support you desire in a thorough, caring, and compassionate manner.
What is an End-of-Life Navigator?
The work I do is relatively new for recent generations; however, in the past it has been part of the fabric of community life. Family members and experienced local women supported the dying through their death process. They assisted with the care and disposition of the body, which was usually kept at home until burial.
Currently, there are many names for and ways to do this work. I prefer End-of-Life Navigator because it seems relatively self-explanatory. I work with people who are preparing for end-of-life, either theirs or a loved one, long in the future or very soon. I help them navigate the many tasks and questions that they may encounter. These may be organizational, practical, systemic, personal, physical, social, and spiritual. Sometimes what is required is just being present. At different junctures the work many require planning, consultation, investigation, advocacy, negotiation, reflection, ritual, companioning, and vigilling. It almost always requires deep listening, presence, compassion and attention to detail.
Other names used for the work I do are Death Doula, End-of-Life Doula, Thanadoula, Death Educator, Home Funeral Consultant, Death Midwife, and Community Death-care Practitioner. People using these titles often do much the same work as I do or are specializing in an aspect of it. There is also a grassroots movement to bring these skills and options to the general public to access and practice. I recommend www.communitydeathcare.ca for more on this.