Shepherds of death: women accompanying the dying

“When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was a ‘shock’ to me. I am 46 years old, with a healthy lifestyle, two young boys, ages 8 and 5, and a wonderful woman I’ve been married to for thirteen years…and I have nothing left but Little time to live.” With these words, John T., an engineer living in West London, begins his story on ABC, via WhatsApp, because he can’t speak. A year ago, he received news that a small tumor removed from the roof of his palate was malignant. Despite chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the cancer has spread to other parts of the mouth and neck. “I can hardly speak, I have to be fed intravenously and I am in excruciating pain. I plunged into depression, from which my psychiatrist, my psychiatrist and my ‘Dula Moti’ or midwife, who continues to accompany us in this process, take me out. Thank you above all to Anna (Her country), not only did I finally accept my situation, but, as trite as it sounded, I smiled again in the midst of adversity, and my family speaks of my illness of course from pain but naturally. “I don’t want to die,” he says, “and I’d be lying.” If you say that we are not in great suffering, but how it will happen anyway, and whatever I think, I want to live my best. The way the time I left with my loved ones. I would rather die at home with my wife and children.” Peaceful End Anna, a nurse by profession, has been with John and his family for just over three months, on what she calls “the parallel path of accompaniment to medical treatment,” where her mission is to be “a reference point in compassion, tenderness, and knowledge of the stages of death and mourning, until the end of Life is peaceful, respectful and dignified, whether to leave or to those who remain.” After many years of working in hospitals, most recently in intensive care units, and seeing many patients dying, during the pandemic, he made a life-changing decision: “Health professionals must maintain a balance between doing We do well and empathize with other patients. He takes care of them with affection and closeness, but at the same time without getting too emotionally involved because it can be devastating. But I felt like something was missing, I always felt like I wanted to hug them, cherish them, cry with them. The worst came with Covid, at first it was so severe that many people died alone in a hospital bed, with no one holding their hands. It’s been before and after for me, not even in a pandemic people have to die alone. At the time, thanks to an acquaintance, a palliative care specialist, “I met a baby girl who told me she was also a dead doula. He opened up a world I didn’t know. That woman, my mentor, who experienced her own death process in the first person and in which she allowed me to accompany her, changed my life. Magdalena, who died of Covid in 2020, “was present in the most important moments of human life, which is still incredibly taboo, and I wanted to be like her but focus only on the end of life, because my work as a nurse in the intensive care unit made me particularly sensitive to these taboos.” stage.” His work with John and his family has touched many sticks, from “physical closeness, with hugs, tenderness, having open and honest conversations with them, and most importantly, with children, about what is happening, in loving language and of course age appropriate, to “helping him and his wife” take Practical decisions about difficult topics to discuss, such as deciding whether to cremate or bury the body, resolving probate or insurance issues, talking to family and friends about whether or not they want visits or when, talking to medical teams about their wants and needs, and being there for them During medical visits I record information that is sometimes difficult to understand, especially in a state of weakness or “trauma,” and I even bring them cups of tea or healthy meals, or they run errands for them, a little bit of everything. The issue of minors is particularly sensitive. «We live in A society that does not talk about death and, when experienced, is paid for with a lot of unnecessary pain.Death is painful, of course, it is sad, but if we know how to express our feelings about it, if we are allowed to be a part of the farewell ritual from a young age, then We were allowed to see the physical degeneration process of our elderly or sick relatives When we see a flower wither, it will be less difficult to overcome.” “It is essential to improve communication at the end of life and to promote the demedicalization of the dying process.” Emma Claire Dolla, psychologist by profession This is also the view of Emma Claire, a York-based psychologist whose first job after graduation was to support terminally ill people who wanted Leave the hospital to die at home. Later he worked in other fields, such as with minors with special needs or with adult therapy. “While I enjoyed these roles, I knew I wanted to work in end-of-life care again,” she says, a role in which she now supports both the patient and their closest family members, not only during the death process but in the later stages, during mourning. For her, it is necessary to “improve communication at the end of life,” promote “the demedicalization of the dying process” and create what she calls “sympathetic communities” in which discussion is “facilitated” between individuals, their families, and medical professionals in order to enable them to express their desires and preferences, and support them in achieving it. “I think everyone deserves a ‘good death’, whatever that means to them.” “Keeping death in mind has helped me live fully. It has helped me make peace with impermanence.” Mariana Garcia ‘doula’ Mariana Garcia, 42, a trained psychologist, tells how she began this journey during her father’s illness. “I realized,” he says. That we do a lot of wrong things as individuals and as a society” because “we don’t listen to the dying person.” “I took some time to accept my grief and learn from it and started volunteering in nursing homes and with seniors… It led me to wanting a doula” first in the United States and then in England. People imagine that when you work on this everything is sadness, but no, having death in mind has helped me live fully. It helped me make peace with impermanence,” asserts Garcia, a coach at the Reference Organization Living Well and Dying Well, and advocates that “embracing death is embracing life.” Speaking of the ending “I was lucky my dad didn’t express death,” British Glennis German, who has been on the island for 30 years and who, in addition to being a wedding party, has volunteered in the palliatives of the Joan March Hospital ward as part of the island-based volunteer association Her, DIME. This made him feel the need to do more work in end-of-life care “and the work of the funeral parishioner, which I also do, was my natural progression”, at the same time that he was introduced to the global “Death Café” movement, some of the encounters now facilitated by the talk About dying in a relaxed and confident environment “while drinking tea and eating cake”. It was precisely during the Covid-19 pandemic “and thanks to the Death Café network in Spain that I became one of the founding members of the Giving Life to Death Festival”, which is now taking place online. His inspiration has been drawn from festivals Similar in the UK, such as “Dying Matters Week” and “Good Grief Festival” in Bristol, and set out to do something similar in Spain “to promote the necessary dialogue about death and the end of life” address”.

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