While exploring the topic of death and dying over the past few weeks, I came across a TED Talk called, “Why Thinking About Death Helps You Live a Better Life” by Alua Arthur. Alua is a “death doula.” Did you know there was such a thing? When Alexander was born, I had a birth doula who assisted me in the labor and birthing process. Well, now they have death or end-of-life doulas who can assist you through the death and dying process.
A death doula is a nonmedical paraprofessional who can help you determine your end-of-life desires, navigate the logistics of your death, assist you in your grief process, and help you prepare for what’s to come. They provide emotional and physical support, as well as education about the dying process. They also advocate for you throughout the process to ensure your wishes and needs are respected. End-of-life doulas can even work with your loved ones after your death, providing grief support and helping to plan creative ways to honor your life.
It seems to me that in the distant past many of these tasks would have been taken care of by family members, spiritual communities, and close neighbors. Today we have to hire someone to do this, but thank God that support is available! If I were to find myself in need of such services right now, I would absolutely hire a death doula to help and support me and my family.
People like Alua are passionate about helping others through the process of death and dying that we will all experience at some point. My favorite part of her TED talk comes at the end when she describes her version of what she thinks may happen when we die. She explains that none of us really knows for sure, so we might as well get creative and make up our own version! She says the version we imagine is as likely as any other!
In her imagination, Alua predicts that her death might involve experiencing simultaneously every feeling she’s ever had throughout her life–the good and the bad, all of it–filling up with all of the sensations and emotions until she can’t possibly hold any more feeling…..and then bursting in an explosion of colorful glitter that slowly floats back to Earth, coming to rest on her loved ones and all those she touched in her life. You can listen to her describe it at the link below. I thought it was quite beautiful.
I wonder what you might come up with if you used your own creativity to dream up the most beautiful and glorious death you could imagine? Who knows….it’s quite possible we are able to influence our own experience of death by what we imagine it to be like!
I look forward to sharing a meaningful Day of the Dead Remembrance Service with you this Sunday and fellowshipping with you at our potluck following the service!
Link to Alua Arthur’s TED talk: https://youtu.be/IkeuKPZxEhM?si=j7dvmrVzRFXbLkjw.