Birth and Death are the same

I was moved a few weeks back by the post at Homebirth Diaries about the similarities of sitting with someone during birth and during death while she helped her friend mourn the loss of her husband. Now that I’m being a sort of “death doula” for my own mom’s grief process over the impending death of her sister, it’s got me thinking.  Somehow, for me, knowing that birth and death are so similar is comforting for me.  I don’t know if would be as comforting for everyone or if it is just because I’m a birth doula, but I think the similarities point out the natural circular rhythm of our existence.

Some of my essay below is just reworked ideas of LaborPayne’s above post, but the act of writing this out has helped me.

This time is a monumental rite of passage, a sacred event, both for the person and for the family at large. There are many decisions to be made and a plan will be put together. It is a very emotional time, and it follows that there may be disagreements on how to handle both the logistics and the emotions that come with it. At the same time, it can draw families closer together as they never have been while they are most vulnerable and support each other in an unconditionally loving, non-judgmental space.  Healing can happen. Wishes are as unique as the individuals themselves, but respect and love all underly them.Often, there is a natural fear. Everyone involved is transferring from a known place to something entirely unknown and it can be scary. Will it hurt? How will we handle the pain? How will we handle seeing a loved one in pain?  Will it be peaceful? Will wishes be carried out? Or will medical events make it impossible? Will they be okay, in the end?  Knowledge, support, physical touch and a listening ear can help with this fear of the unknown.

When the moment comes, the story will be different for everyone. Sometimes it is loud and messy (both physically and emotionally). Pain is naturally a part of it, but can be managed medically or with natural methods as desired.  Some will fight against it, feeling agitated and restless, and cry out. Others will feel ready, may see peaceful visions and have tender moments with loved ones. Usually there is some of both.

There is often a wish to control an event that is, to great extent, uncontrollable. Medical interventions can prolong or shorten it. In the end, though, our bodies know what to do and it will happen, inevitably, on its own.

This time brings families and loved ones close physically and emotionally – both before, during and after.  There are cultural and social rituals to plan and attend.  Also the emotions of the person(s)  involved must be watched carefully – before to make sure they are being heard and treated with kindness and after to watch for signs of depression that is all too common during this time.

In the end, every story is different and each experience is unique.  It is a natural part of life, and is inevitable.

But how we take the journey does matter.

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