We dream. We know we are meant to serve others at the end of life. We play around with ideas how all we have accomplished in our lives will fit in with all we know and love to do--how can we pull this all
together for the benefit of others? That's what my particular gift is; that's why people study with me in our School of Accompanying the Dying, to help them 'pull it all together.' Read Sarah’s story, in her own words:
"I am a great believer in the small threads in life that eventually weave into our lifetime tapestry. I worked as a paralegal for years and ironically my very first job as a paralegal was with a woman who did guardianships, oftentimes being the court appointed guardian for those (often elderly and always alone) who have no family or anyone to assist them when they need assistance with either their personal or financial affairs. My parents both passed away in 1996, my only sibling having passed away 6 years before, and my life changed in so many ways. Being a downtown, suit wearing, work-weekends-gladly paralegal lost its importance on me. It took me many years to do anything about it, but I finally decided to go back to school. Last year I finished my B.S. in Health & Behavioral Sciences with my emphasis on Aging and Wellness at University of Houston Downtown.
Of course I still had to work and I got a job, part-time, for a woman who was 86 with multiple conditions and some dementia, forgetting to take her medicine and in need of someone to check in on her in the morning and afternoons. It worked into a 24/7 position, which is so often the case, and I was with her when she died. I was able to assist her family, who were afraid of their mom dying and in denial of the fact, to look honestly at her situation and get her on hospice so she was able to leave the nursing home and go home and be in her home and with her family for Thanksgiving. She died the week thereafter. Realizing that I was able to do this with a sense of comfort and strength made me realize that it was a gift and that I had somewhat of an obligation to carry on in this direction. I have, and have walked through caregiving and to the final days of many individual’s lives.
While doing so one night, I googled “end of life” and came up with Deanna’s site and learned of End of Life Doulas and took her course. There are many aspects of being a doula which were new to me then, but which I have now taken part in. I worked in San Antonio last summer for a family who wanted a green burial and desired to keep their mother in the home for a few days while they said goodbye. Again, though I had not done it before, I knew that it could be done and it was, with some laughter and little complication. In fact, when we originally got the shroud, the son unwrapped it and sent me a text saying “maybe we need to practice on one of us wrapping in this before it’s show time!” One of the great joys of serving families at the end of life of one of their loved ones is partaking in a sensitive, precious, but normal time in their lives that many simple shirk from. Being an EOL Doula is a gift.
I am full of ideas and now that I am no longer in school, am currently working on some events to expose what I do to a wider audience. There are many events that people can get involved in with like minded folks, some are free and there are many that are not free. I have come in contact with all sorts of venues that are tangentially related to end of life. There is a public radio show that is interested in interviewing me and I have found that younger folks, especially those environmentally inclined, are very interested and not at all uncomfortable with the idea of green burials. I have been presented with the idea of holding a round table discussion on this topic at an environmental event. Then there are those who have no awareness or interest in these aspects and are not attuned to what is available to those at the end of life, but have a loved one who is dying and they know that there is never enough support or help. There is a need and an interest, I am not where I would like to be sometime in the future, but know that I am where I belong and would love to not only serve those at the end of their lives, but others who wish to do what I do become doulas, too." ~ Sarah