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People facing illness and dying have been my greatest teachers, and sharing their walk has surely been the deepest honor. This is called “Death Doula” work by some. Yet deathwork as I do it extends well beyond bedside vigil to include many aspects of life, change and loss.

“Deathwork” is not just for the actively dying. It can begin at any time, including in childhood. It may be a present in a loss, a life change, a difficult diagnosis, a terrorist attack, a death of a pet, of someone we love, or just someone whose death opens deeper questions around mortality. It includes dealing with a 20 year old’s existential anxiety or a 66 year old’s fears about aging, for example.

When faced with the issues around illness, aging or dying in our culture, there is usually a lot of education that needs to be done. Consider me a tutor. Supporting this passage with an experienced fellow traveler and learning a little more about life processes can make the road a lot easier when meaning is hard to find. Together we help the traumatic become both more manageable and meaningful step by step.

Grief Work of course walks hand in hand with Death Work. In some ways these processes aren’t at all separate. However working with grief we focus more on the issues of loss, sorrow, regret, relationship healing, closure and transformation. In reality, all relationships are forever. And they are all finite. With that insight we will learn to release what is gone, take tender care of continuing bonds and work to resolve unfinished business. I will help you complete some aspects of your relationship, and transform other aspects. Understanding energy, relationships and the body is of profound help to this care. I will help you re-stabilize your body, your energy system and your identity so that you can more easily reclaim your life and health after loss, continuing to move in the flow of life.

Learn more about my background and experience here.

 
 

 
 
Patients need to work with people who can hold their own space, be in the authority of their own knowledge and who can also be present for them. They need both wisdom and compassion. It is great if you can actually find someone like that you can collaborate with. What you are doing is looking at the mystery with me. You have been willing to sit in it and be taught. It comes from a central attitude that you want to learn about the mystery. You are saying I don’t have absolute knowledge. It is a humble place. It allows me to be who I am.

The most profound shift was the day you asked me to look at the inevitability of my dying. I could see that I was in emotional denial. That was a shock. But now I that I am looking at that, it is profound. It took me that much deeper. It felt like I had been walking around in a bubble. I needed someone to burst my bubble to help me get to a deeper level of understanding about life.
— Brooke, cancer patient
 
 
It was one of first time I felt reality hitting me in face. It was a “holy shit” moment. What am I going to do? I was lost and very afraid. I noticed that I was shutting down and cutting everyone off. I was going to do this alone. I wasn’t going to trouble anybody. I wasn’t sure I deserved the attention that anyone would give me. A part of me thought that I could talk my way out of this. First I needed space to just talk. That was really important.

Then one of things that you did at one point was you flipped it. Death was an invitation to life, an opportunity to live. That started a whole other thing. I had the realization that I have been living in a dream. I had to ask things like “Where am I not living fully?” “Where was trauma from history still active?” I thought I had done all the work on my father and wasn’t angry any more. I thought his death had ended it. But I discovered it wasn’t really gone. It was still in my body.
— Pete, cancer patient