As I headed to Australia and New Zealand to study to be a death doula, I had no idea what was to come just a short time after my return. I knew I was studying something that I was passionate about, I knew a dream was taking hold and I knew I was beyond excited to go travel these amazing parts of the world and learn from others who worked in end of life, like Carley-Jay, Carol Wales and Dr. Barbato. The reality: I never was able to meet Carley, but her story would profoundly impact me in the coming years of my practice. Carol and Dr. Barbato both added elements to who I was and what I would become that were profound and for which I will forever thank them. After my return, it would take me 2 full years to feel the honor and title of Death Doula settle into my soul, much of that time spent caring for Gram, here in this house, on hospice. I wasn’t a doula during that time if you asked me, some days I was barely human, I was raw and struggling and full of love and insanity and sometimes desperation, as well as a profound gratitude for the amazing people that helped me through that time. I learned and I grew. Then it was time, Gram got her wings, and my life and study resumed, and few weeks ago, completely lost in an experience with a patient, I finally understood that I had indeed become a death doula, and the title in all it’s meaning and beauty, I had fully earned, though it will forever still be growing and changing.
In the days just before we left on that trip, I read about a project started in New Orleans, by a fascinating woman named Candy Chang. Using an abandoned building in New Orleans and a vision, she had lit up the world in thought and dreams about what they would do before they died. What an incredible woman, what a story! Her dream has spread across the globe to over 2000 locations….and I searched for them on my trip. Candy explains her vision in a 2012 TED Talk:
So for 2 years I’ve looked for her Before I Die Walls and I’ve had dreams of bringing her project alive here in Maine. I’ve also never stopped tearing up when I watch this and hear her read aloud the wishes and dreams of the people that share on her walls. Oddly, I also seem to have developed a burning desire to be tried for piracy – though I must admit I’m far more interested in the fun and debauchery to be had leading up to being caught and then tried!
The wait is almost over though……it’s coming soon. There’s so much happening and I’m beyond excited and I hope you are too! Are you coming to NHDD events? Are you going to come check out the expo and see all the amazing displays and demos we have put together? Will you come out for Death Cafe – there’s our monthly meeting Thursday April 13 at VNA & the NHDD Special Event Death Cafe at Sea Dog Brewing on April 18! Then don’t forget to sit back and enjoy some popcorn and watch Extremis with us at Portland Public Library on April 19th from 4-7 and join in the discussion to follow.
And the WALLS!! As of April 10, 2017 – the Before I Die Walls will start popping up around (mostly) Southern Maine. So keep your eyes open and look for your opportunity to join in this exciting project!