Anna Lyons is an end-of-life doula and writer. She is a co-founder and director of Life. Death. Whatever. — a project that aims to help open up and redesign the dialogue around end of life, death and grief.
LONDON — Ive spent the best part of 20 years encouraging people to acknowledge our lives as finite and to recognize the end of them as we do the beginning: with a sense of ceremony, importance and deference.
I always encourage families, significant others and friends to be there: to bear witness to the end, to hold someones hand and to walk alongside them in their final moments.
Say those words that need to be said rather than leaving them forever unspoken. Bestow final acts of love upon the person at the end of their life: reading aloud, making them comfortable, sharing those final precious hours, minutes and seconds.
Coronavirus has changed all of this. By preventing those we love from being there, thousands are facing their final moments alone. COVID-19 has turned our world upside down and inside out, but we must not allow it to rob us of companionship and nurture in death.
Coronavirus has stolen so much from us, lets not allow it to steal the most important goodbyes of our lives as well.
When someone close to us is living with a life-limiting illness, grief often begins before death. Our ability to process that grief can be informed by the things we are able to do for them at the end. As an end of life practitioner, I find it deeply troubling that so many people — one boy in a London hospital, for example, was as young as 13 — are dying without anyone they know or love by their side.
In place of physical presence, over-stretched medical teams are doing the best they can: holding up a mobile phone so that relatives can FaceTime their goodbyes. Doctors and nurses facilitating video contact in a patients final moments is borne out of compassion and kindness, but it risks turning death into an untouchable, intolerable, horror movie seen from afar — a show to watch, not an experience to be shared.
End of life practitioners have spent years trying to bring death out of the shadows of medical buildings and back into the home because we know how important it is to get end of life right for everyone involved. The impact of death isnt just on the person who has died. How our people live out their end and how we get to say goodbye impacts vastly how we grieve and how we continue to live with the death of someone important to us.
That includes having time with someone after theyve died, to say goodbye on our own terms, and in our own time. To have that taken away has a detrimental and permanent impact on our grief. A natural and normal part of grief can be the discomfort of guilt, the feeling that we could have, should have, doneRead More – Source