End of Life Support, Postpartum Help, Sacred Ceremony 

Lauren Elizabeth 

I was born into a grieving family.  I made my surprise entrance into the world almost exactly 9 months after my older brother, Joey, died unexpectedly.  I always credit Joey for teaching me how to hold space as I held space for his story, his memory, and his spirit in my early childhood days.  My youngest sister, Shannon, lived only in my mother's womb, as she was stillborn when I was in preschool.  In early childhood I learned that we don't talk about our dead siblings with others because it makes them uncomfortable.  I learned to hold in and hide my tears.  I learned that death is scary, hidden, traumatic, and something to be avoided.  I learned to live in fear of the possibility of death.  It wasn't until I was in my 20s that I unlearned those early childhood lessons and adapted new truths about death.  The effect of a death on a family system is traumatic, but it also opens up the sacred opportunity for unimaginable amounts of grace, mercy, and unconditional love.  Talking about death can feel scary, but not as scary as denying the possibility up until the moment death arrives.  The truth is we will all die.  Talking openly about death and the many feelings that accompany that transition won't take away the hurt in your heart, but it can make the transition feel more safe, grounded, and empowered when you know the transition is unfolding with the specific touch, smell, sounds, words, presence, and atmosphere desired by your loved one.  

 

I am a former early childhood educator.  As an early childhood professional I have knowledge of child development and developmentally appropriate experiences.  I loved my role as a teacher but my soul was craving a path that enabled me to hold space and bring sacred ceremony into my work.  I became certified as a death midwife though Earth Traditions in January 2018 in the midwest.  I additionally attended a home funeral facilitation workshop through Earth Traditions in March of 2018.  After moving to the PNW I attended a birth doula training in August of 2018 through Big Belly Services and have taken continuing education classes in 2019 to further educate myself in supporting grieving families through Big Belly Services.  I am currently pursuing my bereavement doula certification through Still Birthday. 

 

As a death midwife, I provide emotional, spiritual, and practical support to families, with children under the age of 18, who are experiencing terminal illness of a child or parent in the immediate family unit including miscarriage and stillbirth. My passion is to help families bring the sacred back into a transition that has been labeled traumatic by modern society.  I believe that families not only have a right to care for their dead, but an ability to do so with the tender love that can only be provided by a loved one.  Additionally I am equally passionate about restoring Mother Earth and helping families explore greener body disposition options during the funeral planning process. My dream is to collaborate with other end of life professionals to create a Sacred Forest with natural burial, restorative practices, and sacred space for the living to commune and celebrate in unity with their ancestors.  

What is Death Midwifery 

Death midwives provide holistic, non-medical, spiritual, emotional, and practical support.  What exactly does that mean?

Non-medical:

I am not a hospice worker.  I am not medically trained.  I am here to fill in the gap between the medical profession and the funeral industry to provide spiritual and emotional support for families on hospice choosing to spend their last days at home or for those who chose to receive medical support in the hospital setting.  

Spiritual Support:

I will help you explore what a "good death" means for you and your family during the active stages of dying. Who do you want to present at your vigil? What types of touch, sounds, smells, and words do you want to experience? What does sacred space mean to you? What type of honoring ritual would you like to take place at the time of death? What type of funeral or other farewell ceremony would you like to take place as you cross the threshold into death?

Emotional Support:

I will help you explore your legacy and how you want to be remembered.  I will help you discover what you want to prioritize in the days you have left living on this earth.  I will hold space for the big emotions that accompany a terminal diagnosis for you and your loved ones.  Your emotions are safe with me.  

Practical Support:

I can offer guidance on getting end of life documents in order while you are still well.  I can help you explore the variety of body disposition options available to help you find the option that resonates with you.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you only work with young families in your end of life work?

In my work as a death midwife my priority goes to families, with children under the age of 18, who are experiencing terminal diagnosis of a child or parent in the immediate family unit.  I will however work with individuals or families who fall outside of those perimeters, given we are a great fit, as my schedule allows.  

 

What if I don't die?

Terminal diagnosis does not guarantee dead.  Exploring and making plans for your end of life transition does not make death come any sooner or later.  Death midwifes work with families for days, weeks, months, or years.  It's never to early to explore how you want to experience your end of life transition.  Having a plan for the end of life may provide some comfort for a transition that may feel scary if left unexplored.  Exploring your end of life options may also inspire you to explore how you desire to live until death arrives.  

What if I live in another state? 

I provide my in-person services in Seattle, WA and the surrounding area.  I also spend time in Chicago, IL each year.  I additionally offer phone consultation services aimed towards empowering individuals to hold space for their dying loved one.  

What if I don't want a home funeral?  What if I want to cremate or bury in a modern day cemetery? 

I respect all religious traditions, cultural traditions, family traditions, and personal choices made at the end of life.  I will not pressure you or your loved one to do anything that does not feel in alignment for you. I hope to empower you to reclaim your end of life transition and make the choices that work for you.  

Why do you offer postpartum services? 

I believe that the transition from person to parent is one of life's biggest transitions.  Parents in the postpartum period may be grieving a variety of losses including, but certainly not limited to, the loss of the birth they envisioned for themselves, the loss of the person they were before they gave birth, or the loss of their pregnant self.  While there is much to celebrate, there is also much grief work to be done in the postpartum period.

copyright @Deathtolife 2019 

laurenelizabethdoula@gmail.com