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.

 

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