The Power of Vigils
When our wise man and founding elder, my beloved husband Chuck died, we vigiled for two days in our home. We washed, dressed, placed ochre on his feet, sang, cried, laughed, drank copious cups of tea, drank lots of tequila and prepared ourselves to say goodbye to his physical vessel. Our whole family and closest friends were here holding each other in their grief. On the first day it was only family, and those we considered family, day two we invited many more. Mimi from Sacred Earth Funerals in Coraki drove down and led us through a blessing and anointing ceremony, we all lit candles and thanked Chuck for his part in our lives. We spoke about the amazing human he was, how much we loved him, we grieved, we laughed, we cried, we prepared ourselves to say goodbye to the physical, his last rite of passage. Were we ready for this? No.
We had a dawn service on the banks of the Never Never, following a path lit by candles, where we sat on mother earth, with no prepared speeches, we lit candles and said our name, prepared ourselves for the rite of separation, sang, prayed, made prayer ties, and honoured Chuck in the only way we knew how, close to mother earth, at the beginning of a new day, with the sounds of the river gurgling in the background, children laughing and crying and blowing bubbles, the kookaburras awakening and welcoming the new day. The men carried Chuck in his wicker basket, barefoot over the stones and rocks on the riverbank. They carried him back to our vehicle to make his final journey. Everyone had the opportunity to participate and not just watch, we chose a flower (native of course) to be placed in the flow of the river, to allow any bitterness from our grief to be cleansed and washed away.
Grief is still our partner, sometimes silent and sometimes annoyingly loud.
Midwifing Death/Death Doula/End of Life Consultant/Guide
Bit confusing? These terms are interchangeable.
Quite simply a death Midwife/Doula is a person who walks alongside you and your family so you can be empowered to have the conversations and make choices around the time you have left.
Introducing Lissa Carmela - A Local of Bellingen - Serving the Mid North Coast/Coffs Coast
Lissa Carmela is a Death Doula, as well as a Registered Nurse with palliative care experience. Some of the services offered are: Active listening “holding space” for expectations, wishes, fears, challenges and what ever else needs to be heard…be heard, and assistance with the planning in working towards a positive death with meaning. This involves meeting people where they are at within themselves; providing information and practical education around death and dying; and offering emotional and spiritual support with respect for culture, beliefs and ritual.
About Me: I am a registered nurse with experience in palliative care and have always felt a sense of reverence when working with the dying. One of the things I loved in my nursing profession was that I could make a difference in somebody’s life when they were most vulnerable. To be there in those tender moments is an honour.
When faced with my own mortality in the past due to a health condition, it sparked an interest in me about the transition of death and dying; how death is perceived in our society; and how different cultures approach death and dying. My process also brought me to a place of acceptance and peace around my own mortality. As a result of this learning and my nursing experience, I feel passionate about supporting those who are facing the end of their lives, and their loved ones, in working towards having a positive death experience.
I have completed the Midwifing Death Correspondence Course with Michael Barbato, and Life Options Death Doula Training. Through this work and other practices I have been able to come to a place of embracing life today, and hope to support others faced with death and dying to do the same.
Death Doula - End of Life Support
Please contact Lissa to discuss your needs. Pricing varies dependant on the needs of the families. You do not need to use Barefoot Funerals as your funeral provider to engage Lissa.
There are some wonderful courses around death and the afterlife.
One that I can recommend would be Sarah Kerr from The centre for Sacred Deathcare..