"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."
- Deanna Cochrane
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.
When I think of navigation I think about the early navigators and how they used the stars to guide them. The stars are like sign posts. They don’t tell you where to put your feet. They are a reliable presence that we can use as a companion on our journey to help steady and orientate ourselves. And that is what I try to be in my work.
As an End of Life Navigator/Death Doula I provide support and companionship to individuals and their families as they navigate the practical, social and spiritual aspects of dying and grief.
In the past this work has been part of the fabric of community life. Family, spiritual leaders and experienced community members supported the dying through their death process and assisted with the care of the body, which was usually kept at home until burial. In more recent generations much of this knowledge and skill has been lost.
Currently, there are many ways to name and do this work. The most common term is Death Doula, but other names are End-of-Life Doula, Death Midwife, Thanadoula, Death Educator, Home Funeral Consultant, Community Deathcare Practitioner and End of Life Navigator.
Commonly Death Doulas offer many supportive services, ranging from practical planning and preparation to death vigilling. Some people using the Death Doula title exclusively specialize in particular aspects such as death education or Home Funeral consultation. Therefore, the name reflects a general area of interest and not the services offered.
There is also a burgeoning grassroots movement of community deathcare that endeavours to reclaim the care of our own dying, dead and bereaved to whatever extent we are comfortable with. [See communitydeathcare.ca] To many, the skills and knowledge that Death Doulas bring to the community are a step towards helping the public access and practice more intimate deathcare. The rise of the Death Doula is probably best viewed as a reflection of the desire in our culture to approach death differently, which ultimately means approaching living life differently.
Why do I call this End-of-Life Navigation?
Ways to work together
I offer resources to help you navigate and advocate through the death and dying process. (coming soon)