Back in December, I completed my death doula training. I learned about the process of dying, natural death care, the funeral industry, a truckload of info around advance planning, grieving, the current state of death care in our society, and a bunch of other details.
How does this all come together?
I’ve been doing the organizing, got the mental health first aid training, folded in the coaching, pulled in the disaster planning, and now have the doula training, but how do they fit together?
That’s what I’m figuring out as I go along. Each of those things felt like The Next Logical Step in the path I’m on, building to a deeper understanding of the environments we create around ourselves as we move through our lives. Or maybe it’s a deeper understanding of the lives we create through our environments.
What I AM noticing, moving back and forth between clients engrossed in the processes of their lives and clients engrossed in the processes of their deaths is how much the two are alike, but there’s much less room for bullshit when looking at death. There is no “someday.” No “eventually.” If you have plans, you commit or take them off the table. When helping clients plan their death, then, it winds up becoming helping them plan their lives. How to plot and carry out the projects, the ideas, all the things they wanted to do before, but thought they had time to do later.
You know. All the things I do to help folks with their day to day lives.
Awareness of and acknowledgement of death brings a level of focus to my work now. I feel much less restrained, less need to be buttoned down, professional, and distant. Death is unpredictable, squirrelly, messy. Kinda like life is unpredictable, squirrelly, messy. When helping clients unravel or simplify or streamline their spaces (and by extension, their lives), there’s a lot of working with them to articulate what their values are. What are the things that are essential to how they live, what’s really important to them and what’s in the way?
Not unlike what I do to help folks plan for their death.
My practice is evolving, same as my clients’ lives. It’s unfolding in real time, while I’m working side by side with people on what they deem is important, essential. I’ve used different terms to describe what I do, “death cleaner,” “organizing coach,” “professional auntie,” trying to pin down a moving thing, and the terms will evolve right along with me.
For now, I’m using “transition coach” to see how that feels. (go ahead, imagine me shaking pom poms on your behalf and try to not giggle.)
Until next time, y’all.