Early in 2022 the medical journal, The Lancet, published its findings after a four year commission into the Value of Death (click here.) One of the key messages was that as death has become more medicalised, especially in the Global North, families and communities have been “pushed to the margins” diminishing people’s confidence in how to support their dying loved ones.
It is my belief that we all know innately how to support people who are dying. However, much of the rich wisdom from days gone by is being lost in modern times. It’s nobody’s fault! We are repeatedly shown images of death in our media and entertainment that tend to overdramatise what usually happens, to the point that people are ever more fearful of the reality. A hundred years ago it would have been commonplace for families to care for their sick and dying relatives in their own homes. What dying looks like would have become familiar, and while the sadness and eventual loss was still experienced, somehow that very familiarity would have removed much of the fear. After death, people were often laid out in the front room, where family, friends and neighbours would have come to pay their last respects. A dead body would not have held the terror it often seems to now. Advances in modern medicine from the middle of the twentieth century onwards meant that people started going to hospital when they were sick. Many got better and went home, but for those that didn’t, death behind hospital curtains became more and more the norm. This situation continues. These days we have additional factors that easily take us away from tapping into our intuition – everybody’s “busy”, technology is everywhere (including in a hospital bed), safeguarding procedures have made it less easy for people to feel confident about offering healthy touch, science has become the new go-to and gentle holistic practices are often ridiculed in the media – and so the list goes on…
In an effort to redress this balance, I’m using my experience as a former Registered Nurse and a Soul Midwife to offer a one-day workshop, The Lost Art of Simple Dying. My desire is to help people rekindle their innate inner knowing by exploring death and dying in a safe and confidential environment. The day is a mix of presentation, discussion and practical skills. We’ll look at the normal dying process, both from medical and holistic perspectives. You’ll have the chance to share your own stories and experience, and to learn from those of the other participants. You’ll look at what death means to you, and be invited to consider your own wishes. Advance planning is a topic that needs bringing into common parlance, so that if we were ever to become unable to speak for ourselves, our loved ones would have a clear idea of what is important to us.
I’ve taught hundreds of people over the last few years, and the beauty is in the fact that no two sessions are ever alike, as each one evolves according to who is present. There’s a real sense of human connection, and we all learn from each other. I am particularly interested in empowering people in my community to feel more confident around death and dying. More people are now dying at home, and although that is what many people say they would prefer, the support is not always available. (Hospice UK is calling for the Government to give more attention to end of life care, since 1000 more people per week died at home during the pandemic than ever before – click here to read more.) By attending this workshop you will learn simple skills rooted in ancient wisdom that can support you to support the people you love when they are dying. I also recently gave a talk in the village, explaining the concept of the Lost Art of Simple Dying, and letting my community know that I’m available as a free resource if they need support. My vision within my village (and indeed beyond) is that death and dying eventually becomes a normal topic of conversation, and more and more people will feel better equipped when they are faced with the prospect of their own or a loved one’s death. This workshop can give us the confidence to achieve just that.
Please contact me here if you would like to find out more about joining a workshop.
(I hold them in Wolvercote, but am open to travelling further afield if a group of people would like me to organise a day in their area.)