the moment of death, there are two things that count:
whatever we have done in our lives, and what state of mind we are in at
that very moment”
During the years I taught natural childbirth, I utilized
a phrase found in my readings as a guideline to my expectant mothers.
This was: "As a woman lives, so she births." I almost always
found, life-threatening emergencies notwithstanding, that women who were
trusting and open to fully experiencing their lives without rigid expectations
of self and/or others, and with enough fear to be discerning and alert
but not enough to get stuck, would have a positive birth experience, even
in the face of medical intervention. An underlying emphasis, then, throughout
my 12-week childbirth classes, was to encourage my couples to be open
to changes in body, psyche, and relationship, sometimes in spite of their
With my work, studies, and experiences in the last two decades, I now
also believe the phrase: "As a person lives, so they die." Parallel
with my birthing women, a person that lives their life with responsibility
(seen as the "ability to respond") can also, with their impending
death, at the moment of death, or even perhaps just beyond the event of
bodily death, choose to respond, open up, and move forward. And how much
easier it might be to have a supportive guide or facilitator during that
process. We have birth classes and birth coaches. Perhaps now, as witnessed
by the ever-growing interest in death and increasing numbers of those
willing to support an individual in their death process, it is time to
encourage death preparation classes and training of death coaches.
What I have experienced in working with the dying and the dead has changed
my life in regard to levels of trust both as a "death facilitator"
and as an individual facing my own inevitability. It has affirmed my life
as I am living it now and validated my ways of "seeing" in the
world. It has also expanded the course of my work.
I am currently preparing, with spirit guidance, workshops and a death
facilitator certification program. Although the details have not yet been
fully articulated, those whose voices I hear and trust say "It
is time to stop fearing death. When death can be embraced, so can life.
It is time for life and death to be understood merely as different spokes
on the same wheel and no longer as a superspeed straightway on which to
run from beginning to end."