Death has been my single greatest teacher. Grief's unrelenting presence demands of me that I trust it, embrace it as an imposing ally, rise to it's challenge and implement it as the most potent tool of self-transformation available to me in this life.
Of my many encounters with death, the death of my youngest child has had the deepest and most multi-faceted impact on me. I recall with acute clarity the sense of something being very 'wrong' with the process that unfolded immediately after his dying. His little body was taken from me within a few short hours. I unquestioningly surrendered the next and final stages of the experience of his death to a funeral industry professional. I followed the industry's lead and my participation in decision making was confined to it's limited options. In the end I followed the funeral director's vehicle as he drove my child's body (embalmed with toxic fluid and sealed in a shiny, expensive box) to a cemetery where, after a brief time, we were not even permitted to witness his final descent into the ground where he was to remain 'forever'.
I knew that my child was dead. I had no delusions about this. But there was a deep and powerful force within me that sensed that this was all being managed wrong. Just so very wrong. I instinctively needed to be with his body; to keep it close to mine, to hold it and care for it until I was ready to let it go. I felt this so strongly but I was unable to articulate my overwhelming feelings at the time, even to my self. I had no language for this primal knowing and like everyone else around me, I didn't question whether or not there were options regarding his care and my needs now that he was dead. When cultural conditioning is successful we, the conditioned, don't even know that there are questions to be asked; we tend not to challenge the decisions routinely made by others on our behalf. Especially when it comes to how care for and ultimately dispose of our dead.
If only I had known then what I know now. This experience and it's aftermath form the core of my desire to fully commit to the reclamation of community-centered deathcare. I feel strongly that our collective aversion to death and dying has been imposed upon us and that when we become able once again to live with death; to fully absorb all aspects of death into our lives, our quality of living as individuals, communities and as a greater society, will be beneficially enhanced to degrees that we can only currently imagine.
I deeply value knowledge and my way of learning has always been unorthodox. Although I have earned a diploma in Herbal Medicine and hold numerous certifications in Yoga, Ayurveda, and related modalities I don't come to Life in Death Collective with a collection of authorized credentials from formal institutions. I bring with me a lifetime of acquired knowledge and skills in the area of traditional health and healing along with thirty years of experiential knowledge in the area of death and consciousness exploration through ceremonial and ritualistic practice. I carry with me a vast array of skills in the area of service. I offer my humility, empathy, compassion, insight, and ability to be fully present for and committed to others as they work through their own personal transformations.
I am a member of the in-home hospice care volunteer team at Hospice Toronto and have completed the core program at BEyond Yonder Virtual School for Community Deathcaring.