One Woman's Conscious Dying Process
Our first meeting was an interview. Lynn knew she would eventually need caregivers to help her through her dying process. So she went about researching local caregivers and developing potential care needs as her dying process progressed. Lynn didn't want her son and daughter-in-law to be "burdened" with her care. She set herself up with hospice care, and soon after, my partner and I became a part of her care giving team.
Lynn was quite organized and demanded everything had its place and a reason for its place. She explained all of her eating habits, daily routines, and self administered her detailed list of medications up until the last week of her life. From Lynn I learned the importance of telling people exactly what you want and expect the best out of everyone. Full communication and pre-planning can eliminate future confusion or questions and lessen stress of her loved ones and caregivers.
A Home Funeral with a three day home wake was an important part of Lynn's after death plans. She told us she wanted cremation and an environmentally friendly cardboard casket to be decorated by loved ones. As her Death Doula, I wrote down all of her detailed wishes for care of her body upon death. We discussed what was most important right now in her life. She shared her wishes with friends and they offered to help wash her body, hold ceremony, dress her in her cremation clothes and prepare her to lie in honor in her home for three days. Friends sat vigil with her in the days prior to death and during the three day visitation time after her death.
All those who were with Lynn during her last weeks of life and dying process came away truly changed. We learned about the ways a community can come together and create a loving good-bye for a dear one. She allowed us to witness her days of "working" to let go of her physical body. We felt empowered with creativity and love as we decorated her casket and fulfilled her after death wishes. We felt completion as we shrouded her body on that last day, lifted her into the artful casket then carried her upon our shoulders out to the mortuary vehicle. As she was escorted from her home a light dusting of snow fell in honor of Lynn's passion for winter skiing. So many miracles, so much love.