Updated: May 25, 2021
In this time of writing during the COVID-19 pandemic our relationship with mortality is very much at the surface.
Is it possible we can make friends with the concept of our mortality towards peaceful wellbeing?
My name is Hazel Osborne and I am a therapeutic counsellor and wellbeing practitioner within Powys, Wales. I work within many different aspects of wellbeing, including working at the end of peoples life as an 'end of life doula'.
How on earth did this come about?
you might ask..
.At this time of writing I am a 46yr old mother of two and still very immersed in family life. However, having lost my father at 21 and then my two closest grandparents within a four year period it feel's that grief, death and loss have accompanied me for a very long time, and indeed they have for over half my lifetime.
These experiences of witnessing those I love leaving my life flung me without warning into the world of loss and grief. It was almost as if everything I knew what blown open, as if I was in another reality where it was difficult just simply to feel.
And yet, now I look back on that time and I realise the importance of this as a part of my development as a human being. These experiences 'formed me' into the person I now am and though deeply painful and difficult - I am very grateful for that.
I still find it startling
when I meet people who have not yet experienced losing someone they love to illness or tragic circumstance and yet I know this to be the case.
We all lose things we love at countless points in our lives, a beloved teddy, a family pet a favourite jumper, connective and enjoyable experiences end- sometimes badly- with school, lovers or holidays.
All these 'ending's' hold grief and challenges, but none are quite like the loss of a loved one- whatever the circumstances- nothing can guard or prepare for this inevitable experience.
So why now? why get comfortable with our mortality?
Ultimately I feel a sense of peace with the concept of my life at some point coming to an end having witnessed three in many ways "good deaths'.
Perhaps this is a strange and new concept to consider a 'good death' so I will tell you what that means to me:
-To be free of pain
-To have said what I wanted to say (as much as possible)
-To have considered my end of life care and 'put my house in order'
-To be somewhere I felt comfortable and had some control/choice within
Now, in this current time of COVID-19 some of these aspects of end of life work are extremely difficult to navigate. But in our more usual conditions these aspects of end of life work are very important and many people say they bring them peace to consider even when they are no where near the end of their life.
The idea is, that if we put these 'advanced plans' for our end of life care in place (and they can be regularly updated as needed by the way!)
Then, we can just get on with living our lives knowing we have put something in place which will support and ease ourselves, our loved ones and the medical professionals; who would otherwise have to make difficult decisions on our behalf if we have no 'advanced care plan' in place and for example suffered and accident where we were 'without capacity' to speak for ourselves.
Is it ok to say I am passionate about end of life work?
Yes, this is what I feel to be true for me and I know some people may find this concept a morbid one.
Having accompanied my father as he struggled with the latter years, weeks and days of terminal cancer I can see the precious moments amongst the pain and suffering we all experienced. Where nothing else mattered but the simple act of loving and being with.
In many ways we were given the opportunity of closeness through his illness and I will always be grateful for that and for witnessing the beauty of how a gentle and supported death (for all its rawness in other aspects) could and can be.
This was his parting gift to me.
Trevor Paul Maddocks
November 1950 to June 1996
'He lived and loved deeply and will forever be missed'
To find out more about end of life doula care and training contact me