How Life Lead Me To Be An ELP

being a death doula Apr 22, 2022

Since I was a little girl, my journey has led me to this moment in time. Specifically, my fear of death has led me to this work.

My journey into my fears, terror, and awe with death began when I was 7 years old! I was so desperately afraid of death at such a ripe young age. Many close family members were dying all around me of heart disease and cancer.  I was not permitted to witness their dis-ease, see them in the hospital, or attend their funerals. 

My fears seized my breath, and I sank deeper into an abyss of fright

I was convinced now, that sickness and death were beyond terrifying. “No one would let me see it or touch it—it must be horrific! I thought every day.  Nothing seemed safe in the world. My imagination went wild with fears. I learned that life and death are dark, lonely, scary, and bleak! I was not very hopeful! I was frightened all the time. 

My fear of death continued to intensify as I grew up! It manifested as a low-grade anxiety. I did everything I could to be safe—so that death would not touch me! I looked over my shoulder around every twist and turn. Fortunately, this also inspired 40 years of intense studies to try to heal myself…to find the root cause of my suffering.  I dove deep into nutritional studies— vegetarianism, Ayurveda, mindfulness, yoga, visualization techniques, and spiritual development! I noticed that I felt peace when I was participating in yoga, bike riding, running, singing, dancing, visualization, and within safe places of love.  

Only, later did I learn that I was self-medicating myself by calming my painful emotions and inhibited neural pathways from the trauma. I lived with this gut-wrenching fear the best that I could till after my undergraduate studies.  

In these days, no one uttered a word about death!  

I found it easy to hide my fear amongst all the fear around me! 

Somehow, I mustered up the courage, probably with divine intervention, and dove directly into the fire

I was pretty naïve and maybe a little brave all in the same moment as I took the plunge with the attitude of ‘face your fears’ even when the tears and terror take your breath away!  

In 1987, my death anxiety finally pushed and inspired me to begin a very intimate relationship with death. I began volunteering at a hospice. There, my very first patient died in my arms. With her death, my fears escaped as she took her final breath. The moment of her death, I can still feel in my bones, my life changed! Death was not at all what I imagined!  

It felt like A cool unforeseen breeze that brushed against my being. Her outward struggles seized. She looked peaceful. Somehow, I was not scared. She slipped away in my arms with a gentle exhalation. I wept and held her! Then I wept more! There was no turning back from this moment! Oddly, I felt like I was home!  I seem to have found missing pieces of my heart. My heart and soul, where death may be understood, seemed all connected, I found a path that filled me with an inner peace that I had not yet known in my life! 

For the past thirty-five years, I have had the privilege of companioning hundreds of individuals through the threshold of life into death, beyond where they must walk alone. Each sacred brush with death sanctions a glimpse into the great mystery of this life–my breath escapes. 

I dedicate my body of work to those of you who are experiencing life transitions, serious illness, grief or are at the end-of- your life, in hopes of inspiring us all to embrace death as an integral part of life. My heartfelt devotion goes to all my clients who have died in my arms and have courageously shared their intimate soul essence of both life and death. You have been my greatest teachers.