Death Doulas. Rise Up. This is your hour. This is the 11th hour and you signed up for this shift. This is your Death Nesting and mine too.
I am not concerned whether or not you did certificate training.
Likely, if you did do it, the hours of allotted time did not grant you enough space or reality to contemplate your own mortality as deeply as you should in order to work with those who are dying.
Likely, a lot of the skills and techniques you learned from a document on a computer screen would become lost in the flood of adrenaline as you see the person in the checkout aisle just a head of you sneeze and spray droplets directly on your hands and your wallet.
Chances are, glancing at your certificate does not bring you any solace as you watch the newsfeed flood with school after school closing, flight cancelations and the stock market plummeting to who knows how far down.
Death Doulas, End of Life Doulas, Death Midwifes, Ancient Death Doulas, Modern Death Doulas, friends and family who have been through death and know this fear and pain: rise up. This is your time to dig deep. Review your end of life documents. Tell your friends and family you love them. Resolve old angsts or pains the best you can. Do this, so you can help others. Do this, so you can help your community, your co-workers, the strangers on the street under their face masks. Listen to fears. Listen to stories of heartache from those who are currently dying or whose loved ones are dying. Those people are not coming soon — they are already here.
And, if by chance, you think you are too healthy to die you’ve missed the mark.
If you think your immune system is too strong to die, you’ve missed the mark. Humble yourself. Know you are just a human and just as mortal as anyone else that you lay eyes on. Help because you have touched upon the fears of your own life ending and can therefore listen to others now. Help because you are just the same. Help because you signed up for this whether or not you did certificate training, you are here on earth right now in a body, with a mind, with a beating heart and you have a responsibility to become the best possible human you can be.
And, remember, long before Covid-19 showed up, when that name would have just sounded like a newly discovered planet, people were already dying.
They were already scared. They were already dealing with health issues. The daily panic is not new to them — this new threat either seems like nothing compared to their terminal illness or it has added to their already unbearable stress. Remember too that your job is not new either. There are millions of unrecognized social workers and healthcare providers that have been here all along doing this work — today, and since the beginning of time. Join them now. Paid, unpaid, how ever it comes to you, just do the work.
Walk on the streets and smile. Ask people how they are. Remind people of the birds singing in the trees. Volunteer at a nursing home, a care center or hospital. Be responsible and take the tests when they become available whether or not you have symptoms so you don’t spread it accidentally. Offer rides to those who need them. Host talks in your community. Check on your neighbors that live alone, are immobile or scared- call them on the phone, knock on their door or hang a note for them to find. Model good hand washing skills and talk about it. Eat healthfully to maintain your health. Encourage others to help. Post encouraging thoughts, techniques and helpful advice on social media. Go slow, dig deep, be One of the Steady Ones. AND ABOVE ALL, DO NOT SPREAD FEAR.