Crossing the River Update

I have gotten some absolutely amazing submissions to the devotional I’m working on for the Beloved Dead.  However, I hope to get some more!  There just aren’t enough yet to publish a robust anthology.  I believe we can get there.

Therefore I’m extending the deadline until September 28th, 2015.

I have more information available here for those interested in submitting.

If you email me in the next few weeks, I may take a very long time to reply, but I will get to it.  I’m currently in the middle of a jaw and tooth infection that has landed me in both the ER and urgent care this week along with the dentist.  I’m on my 2nd round of stronger antibiotics as the 1st didn’t do much good despite the IV administration of a second type.  Because of this I’m on heavy duty pain pills, while having learned that morphine apparently does nothing for me.  I’m dealing with high blood pressure and tachycardia attacks triggered by the stress and pain.  Meanwhile it will be 2 weeks until I have surgery, and I’m terrified that I will be one of the people with Ehlers-Danlos who feels and hears everything but can’t tell the doctor due to anesthesia; Novocaine, Lidocaine, and epidurals decidedly don’t work for me.  I’m having 6 teeth removed, because I have 2 wisdom teeth, a baby tooth, and 3 teeth that have fallen apart due to my faulty collagen.  At this point, we fortunately have the costs covered, which I’m thankful for, so at least there’s that.  If I’m quiet, though, you know why.

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Looking For Death-Related Prayers and Poems. Help?

I’m currently putting together a guidebook for my work as a death midwife, and eventually I would like to be able to offer the non-copyrighted work to others wishing to get into death work in the Polytheist and Pagan community.

I would really, really love to have a collection of prayers, meditations, and beautifully written words to span various traditions and religions.  I would love to have both historical pieces and modern.

Eventually, I’m considering putting together an anthology of modern work on the subject, but if I take on one more project right now I’ll probably drop everything I’m carefully balancing.  However, if you submit something to me now, I would like to know if when I get to the point of putting something together for the community if you’d like to be included.

And in this vein, I’m also looking for soothing pieces.  Pieces to help people transition to their next journey.  Gentle things.

But also prayers for the deceased once they have ceased to be fully in our world.

So can you help me?  Even just links to your favorite hymns?  And would you kindly pass this message on to those who may be able to help?

Thank you!

Embracing a Calling: Death Midwifery

In my early 20s, I received that profound moment that others describe where they receive their calling towards ministry – The calling where you find yourself suddenly at complete peace and going “Yes, I can do this. I can help people with their spiritual lives.” I had originally planned to become an Unitarian Universalist minister, but truth be told the thought of being in school for another 8 years of my life and going into extreme life-long debt only to be saddled down with society politics (because I’ve seen congregations explode in my time and out a minister at the turn of a hat) seemed to kind of a dead end to me.

Then I was told to go into agriculture. This is still on my list of things to do. The problem is that we’ve discovered that I am photosensitive. I have many of the symptoms of lupus, but we’re still searching for answers to if it really is lupus or something else. With that, I’m not sure exactly how large-scale I’m going to be able to work on a farm. Not that I wanted to have a huge farm, but I want to cultivate more than food for just my family – This is another topic altogether, so I won’t go into details right now.

With coming to terms with the fact that my plans are, at the very best, up in the air, the thought of ministry that I’ve been avoiding came back into play. Being a chaplain. This isn’t the first time the thought of being a chaplain to prisoners or in a hospice has entered my brain. It was where I left off when I decided I didn’t want to go back to college. I still don’t want to go back to what will end up being 8 years of college for me where I have to take a bunch of classes not directly related to what I want to do with my life.

I started looking at where I really wanted to be when it came to my role as a spiritual support role in our community. I found myself going back over and over again to those who our society turns a blind eye to quite often – The Dying.

Hekate started discussing her role as Torchbearer to me. I sank quietly into the Eleusinian Myth from a different perspective, and that was the role of Hekate – Bringing the mourning and tired mother into the underworld to find her daughter. Such a modest mention in the grander story, but one of the most important roles within the myth.

I started pondering becoming a death midwife/doula and home funeral assistant. I had no real concept that others were doing this work already. I had no clue at the time that there was literature and training available out there for death work. Slowly links and discussions started trickling in on me. Eventually I found a certifying program online that I felt was a good match for me along with a few classes.

I started talking to others about how I was considering walking into this line of work. Most of the conversations I’ve had have been incredibly positive and encouraging.

Then a friend from high school died last week. She didn’t die suddenly. I have watched her slowly die over a two year period on Facebook. She had gone through radiation and chemo for a brain tumor while pregnant. I cried when she had a severe allergic reaction to the chemo drugs and had to stop taking treatment. I cheered when her son was born healthy. We discussed head scarves in that time as her hair started to fall out. I prayed for her. I watched her come into faith with her God and find peace; she was truly graceful in a way I’ve never seen another human being. We were not close despite all of this. Yet something about her passing changed me in a profound way, watching the process from even an impersonal position 2 states away caused me to consider how we as a society view death and what that means to not only the Pagan/Polytheist community but those who feel the need for a different approach to death… Something warmer, kinder, and gentler for those crossing and those left behind.

I have full plans to offer my services on a sliding scale or at no cost to those in need, save for supplies that might need to be bought. Despite the Affordable Care Act, I fear that people dealing with large hospital and healthcare bills still exist, and while I would like to be compensated for this work I also feel it’s imperative that every person be given the dignity they deserve in the final days.

So here I am, putting out the word today that I’m going to attempt doing this. This is part of my Work. This is a piece of the puzzle of how I’m meant to serve our community. It’s not something I would have ever thought I’d find myself doing, but I also didn’t see myself going into farming either. Now I can’t imagine myself not having land to work with one day.

With all of this said, I’m asking for help with this. I could go into the long story about why I’m trying to raise the $700 it takes to get myself trained to a point where I’d feel comfortable starting to work, but the fact is that as much as I’d like to be able to pay for this out of my own pocket I’m unable to do that.

I’ve started a GoFundMe fundraiser in hopes of even getting the smallest amount raised to help me in this journey. I’m offering various levels of rewards from prints to custom art to prayer beads made of stone with hand-fabricated sterling silver filigree made by me. Even the smallest of donations will help me out. If you’re unable to donate, please consider sharing the link to get my story out there.

Thank you so much.