In Serving Birth & Death, I Midwife Life
A Birth, Death & Mourning Doula Reflects on Life Between the Bookends of Birth & Death
To many my work seems strange, even intimidating, I’m told. I serve as a doula — literally translated as “woman who serves” or “woman servant” — to those who are birthing, facing the inevitability of death, or grieving the loss of a loved one. Not only am I a childbirth, death, and mourning doula, I also train others to do this work, through Momdoulary Method Doula Training and MourningDoula.com.
I’m often asked how I can work at such polar extremes, and if it depresses me, or keeps me on an emotional roller-coaster.
The answer I give is usually quite unexpected. It’s true that my work gives me perhaps an unusual perspective on life, however I don’t see these journeys as oppositional, rather, I see many similarities contained within these bookends to life. Childbirth brings with it a sense of wonder, most of the time. Yet, even in serving around death, there is much that amazes. There is the joy of bearing witness to the finality of what was a life well-lived, or of a death and burial done genuinely right, serving the needs of those left behind, while honoring the deceased. Too, there is the strength of the human spirit, of witnessing the transformation as individuals pass through the realities of managing death, and inevitably facing their own mortality.
In birth and death alike, the individuals around the newly arrived or departed find themselves facing life-changing emotions, while simultaneously discovering an inner strength and ability they may well not have realized before.
These events mark life, shaping and defining what happens between those first and last moments, as well as the impact we leave upon others, even after we are long gone. It’s the very life contained within such moments that’s most noteworthy. Seeing this time and again, one cannot help but gain perspective. I can work with such extremes because I see contained within them both the best and the worst of what human potential contains. Rather than depressing me, it renews and informs me.
My work has taught me to more deeply value the precious beauty that is Life. Through serving at birth and around death, I’ve learned to help deliver — midwife if you will — life more fully, and more honestly.
This work has caused my focus to shift to serving up as much joy in every moment as is humanly possible, while contributing to the world around me in a positive way. I’m filled with a certain hyper-awareness of every moment, understanding fully the value and measure contained therein. I’ve come to view each moment as a bundle of possibility, of potentiality, just waiting to be unlocked, lest we let them sadly slip away! This work has taught me how genuinely fragile life in all its glory truly is, and how much we should do ourselves and Life the honor of showing up fully and completely. So it is that through working as a servant in times of birth and death, I have come to help deliver Life more fully in the moments I have within my possession.