Breath of a Death Doula
By Analisa Domenica, ADL Admin
Breath of a Death Doula
My nature as a death doula is to provide comfort for the dying: comfort of mind, emotion, spirit, body, and breath. These are grievous times AND profound pathways for my ilk. Bearing witness from a distance, we encounter the sea of people across the globe, dying without family, friends or doulas by their side; alone without their loved ones. We are naturally inclined and trained for holding pure space, cradling bodies, synchronizing peaceful breath; soothing anxiety and fear, offering deliberate, open-ended witness and clarity for the dying and their beloved attending ones. All of this toward facilitating a good and conscious and peaceful death; a death with minimal pain and with a peaceful surrender toward stillness and away from suffering.
While not literally alone, our dying brothers and sisters are suffering miserable deaths. Drowning in the heated, watery wake of their own bodies; gasping desperately for unobtainable air, dying in a way that we dare not to imagine, as we struggle for our own air, encountering this visage. Those attending them are cloaked in sanitary boundaries but are themselves stripped of the small but extraordinary reward of healing human touch as the final contraction is neared. They are struggling themselves, and one can only imagine their personal and professional suffering and stifled breath as the mass of life-preservers tossed out into the sea are pulled back in, empty and unbearably weightless.
The dying ones’ beloveds, watching their dying being taken away, eventually discover their own inhale, caught in their throats, only then remembering the necessity of allowing it raggedly into their lungs. They will not see their dying loved ones suffer and drown and die, and for some that is a far worse fate. Their imaginations may offer a crueler and more vivid replay loop, tireless and unforgiving. They will not hold them, or soothe them, nor will they be soothed by the mysterious blessing of the final contraction in which all are held in an inexplicable yet forever palpable garden of gratitude.
Those that will not die a physical death, those sick at home and suffering in their own way as they count the toll and may recall their carelessness or willful disregard of prudence and compassion, will know their own mistaken belief in separation, in believing they were islands in this sea of drowning. They will have breathing problems of their own.
And those who will mindlessly and boastfully continue to carry poison to the rest of humankind from which they are gleefully disconnected, will be stripped from their breath in unimaginable and unforeseen ways.
My service today is in dedication to all. To the breath of all. Every moment of every day, for as long as it takes, I will fearlessly breathe you in and breathe you out.
For the dying:
Breathing in, I hold you in your desperation, in your struggle, and in your suffering.
Breathing out, I see you in your surrender, in your release, and in your resurrection.
For the caregivers:
Breathing in, I hold you in your exhaustion, in your anguish, and in your grief.
Breathing out, I see you in your resilience, in your strength, and in your rest.
For the beloved ones:
Breathing in I hold you in your suffering, in your grief, and in your pain.
Breathing out, I see you in your wholeness, in your healing, and in your peace.
For the sickly ones:
Breathing in, I hold you in your deliberations, in your irritation, and in your inquiry.
Breathing out, I see you in your witness, in your recovery, and in your awakening.
For the solitary ones:
Breathing in, I hold you in your loss, in your brokenness, and in your dark.
Breathing out, I see you in your recovery, in your wellness, and in your liberation.
~ Analisa Domenica