In the years since the passing of my son, it has become more and more clear to me what the meaning of it might have been. In the searching to find some peace, what I have discovered is a need in our society to accept death as a natural occurrence and part of life.
We are bombarded, day in and day out, with images of youth. Even those who appear in ads about cancer facilities appear young and vibrant. It is great to think that we are going to live to very advanced ages, the reality though is dependent on our lifestyles and genetics. Our society does not prepare us to accept death. Doctor's are reluctant to sign death certificates because it is accepting failure for them. We have an entire industry that is focused on removing us from death. When a person dies in a hospital, a call is made to the mortuary and the deceased is picked up and taken to a place where strangers prepare the body for burial or cremation. Families may get a moment to say goodbye at the hospital or hospice and then they never see their loved one again. Certainly in some cases this is necessary when there has been a devastating accident or contagious illness. The point of this is that we have become conditioned to fear death and dying, and we should not.
I have become involved in a movement to bring death and dying back into our lives. I am trained as a Death Midwife, this is someone who actually stays with a dying person to help make their transition easier and less fearful. Just as a Birth Midwife helps people to make their entrance into the world, I help them to make their exit. I belong to the National Home Funeral Association and help people who want to make the process of "returning to the earth" more natural by keeping their loved ones home until they are buried and cremated. The family prepares the body and gets to say goodbye and the process is personal, kind and natural.
Another passion of mine is the facilitation of "Death Cafe's", this is a kind of salon where people get together to discuss the issues of death and dying that frighten them so that they can be addressed without fear. It is also a chance to discuss the practical issues of dying such as directives, wills and other plans that should not be left until the last minute to be decided by those who are in immense emotional pain. I have included a link to an article that discusses this kind of gathering, if you would like to have me facilitate something like this for you I am happy to do so. At the bottom of this post are several ways you may contact me. http://www.phillyvoice.com/death-cafe-philadelphia-out-of-the-closet/ .