The Powerful Magic of Community – Community Death Care
This past month I’ve had many opportunities to witness what happens when like-minded death caring professionals come together in community.
These events have reminded me about the power of community, and the strength that comes when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to trust that those we need will show up for us. Not only do we build trusted relationships with each other, we learn and grown together so that we can create a much-needed change in the world. Change that gives the world a new perspective on death and dying; one that informs us of options, neutralizes fear and alleviates regrets.
Jo-Anne Haun and I created the Death Doula Network of BC because we believe it is much easier to provide heartFULL death care services when you have a community of people who are in this work together. Not for themselves, but for the positive impact we can make collectively on an individual or a family in some of the hardest times of their lives; facing illness and death for themselves or those they love.
The work of a Death Doula is best delivered when our hearts are full, when we are feeling supported and when we are collectively doing the work together to reshape how we care for our ill and our dead.
In two short years we have repeatedly witnessed the power and magic that can occur when we collectively focus this passion on the greater good, and we help individuals and families to create sacred memories from the journey of illness and death, versus fear, regret, and uncertainty.
We have seen a widow receive help from DDNBC members in different provinces as they come together to ensure her husband’s remains were transported with loving care from one province to another. At the same time, the celebrant for his ceremony, was also connected through these members, and because of their connections the celebrant was able to include important and meaningful words and ritual into the ceremony. Three DDNBC community members made a difference for this grieving widow, by letting her focus on her loss and honouring her husband, while these members collectively helped create her sacred memories.
One DDNBC member in Victoria, BC connected with another in the Lower Mainland, seeking support for a young widow in the region. Through this one connection this young widow was eventually supported by 5 DDNBC members from various locations in the province. The support of this group of members provided her with awareness, understanding and options she had never imagined. She was able to build on her love and the idea of possibility to create heartFULL sacred memories for herself and her family.
Another young woman seeking MAiD, asked for support in creating a community ritual to honour her and her passing. Megan Sheldon, of Be Ceremonial lead our network in a community care ritual that created ripples of love, compassion and healing not only for this young woman, but also for every individual who chose to participate. This young woman, who felt isolated and alone before contacting us, was able to die with a DDNBC member at her side, knowing that community can make a difference and that even strangers can help create sacred moments and memories.
A fellow in a care facility contacts a member because he wants memorial rings for his family. Our member contacts another member, and they make the connections, so that this person can get his memorial rings and leave sacred memories for his family.
A member wants to play an active role in the after-death care of her father. She learns about KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony through the DDNBC community, and she arranges for Emily & Ngaio to care for her father and guide her in preparing his body. Together they create sacred memories.
With each of these stories, individuals were more positively impacted because a community of DDNBC members came together, with a common intention of making it better than it might otherwise have been. The collective efforts of this community have made a significant difference for each of these individuals, and many more.
In community we expand ourselves and therefore expand the level of compassion and meaningful service we can provide to others. In community we can lean in, and we can also lend a hand to support others in this work. Alone we can do little. Together we can do so much!
A community of death care providers allows us to bring the care for our ill and dying back into our own hands. It allows us to more effectively change the narrative through more conversations, more ripples, and more opportunities. It allows us to help more people in embracing our shared mortality, neutralizing fear, while alleviating regret. It enables us to collectively help others to create more meaningful sacred memories from love and possibility. This is the powerful magic of community in death care.
Karen Hendrickson is an entrepreneur, Coaching in Life, Death & all the Messy In-between. She is a Coach, Speaker, End of Life Consultant & Death Doula, Licensed Willow EOL Educator™, Facilitator, and Co-Founder of The Death Doula Network of BC (DDNBC). You can find Karen at www.karenhendrickson.ca and www.ddnbc.com