I have to admit: the community deathcaring movement appeals to me because it’s on the edge. Community deathcare is grassroots, yes, but also it’s unconventional; it’s a movement that appeals to few, though we fight (gently) for this to change. Coming together as a community to occupy space and demand (gently) that we as a society have some of our deepest core values respected; this empowers me. It’s a beautiful thing that love, care, and connection are also incorporated so seamlessly into this paradigm shift. We are overtaking undertaking, and we are doing it with passion.
Deathcaring as resistance is not enough. It couldn’t be enough. Yes, deathcaring is radical, deathcaring is feminist, deathcaring is bold and brave and strong. The idea of “reclaiming” deathcare calls to mind some epic battle with victory and defeat. But this inherent fierceness is only required in that it clears the way so that softness and curiosity can germinate. This fierceness is only required to give space for authenticity. We could not survive as a movement without emotional intelligence, and if deathcarers are not present, we are nothing.
There is a danger in focusing too much on “skill”. If we concentrate too hard on getting the “skill” of listening right, for example, we will lose track of our ability to actually engage in the act of listening. This is applicable to all realms of deathcaring, and it brings up the notion that holding space is teachable and yet also innate.
We can only offer ourselves.
In a society that exalts self-reliance and autonomy, there is courage in dependence and beauty in vulnerability. If we allow ourselves to be vulnerable around those we serve – and what is being present if not also being vulnerable? – the connections we make will be deeper and the service we provide will be stronger. Let us continue to be courageous, vulnerable, and united.