These days, it seems that our physical bodies are well tended at the end of life, with many options available to us. But what happens with our spiritual and emotional integrity during the last months, weeks, days and hours? Do we really know the wishes of our loved one? What does “quality of life” mean to them during their last days? During the moments leading up to death and beyond, how can we as family and friends care for our loved ones in our own homes?
Most of us are unaware of our choices and rights in this arena. In addition to the services of hospice and our local funeral home, there are alternatives to tending our loved one during the dying and death processes and beyond. By being prepared and informed of our options, we are able to step into this end-of-life transition with compassion, patience, and awareness, whether it is the transition of our own body or that of a loved one. By completing our end-of-life documents, contemplating our own “good” death, and making decisions about our after-death care, we lessen the fear about our final days. We offer our loved ones the gift of information they will need to fulfill our wishes, thus relieving them of the family tension and stress that may arise when trying to guess what we would have wanted.
The Center for End of Life Transitions was created in response to our greater Asheville community’s request for guidance at death. As an all-faiths project, we have helped many individuals and their families during a time that can feel chaotic and ungrounded. With instruction and assistance, families and individuals are given the information and tools to make tough decisions, thus lessening vulnerability, fear, and uncertainty. With the experience of tending our loved one after death in our own home by performing a home funeral, we are often left with a quiet and open heart, knowing that we have lovingly cared for our friend or family member at death and beyond, as we have cared for them in life.
In addition to individual guidance, CEOLT offers workshops and retreats on the subjects of dying, death, and after-death care. During these workshops, participants are encouraged to think about their own spiritual practice (whatever that may be) and to consider how this spiritual focus can help them during their dying process and beyond. Since it’s birth, CEOLT has expanded it’s offerings to groups in California and in Tennessee. Through a structured training program for Death Care Midwives, Doula for the Dying, and Death Care Educators, we increase the pool of support from one to many.