This wonderful testimonial came in last week from colleague Crystal Cannon Flores and posted on Facebook and Instagram:
True to Life Group
“People aren’t looking for the meaning of life, they are looking for the experience of being alive.” Alexis Sheppard, paraphrasing Joseph Campbell
Planning what we want to be surrounded by at end of life is all well and good, but what do we want to be surrounded by right now? Living now in an aware way is the best practice for one’s dying time. The True to Life Group offers an opportunity to practice weekly speaking what’s true right now from your deepest self, and to be heard in a non-judgmental way. In fact, you can ask the group for whatever will serve you best: just listening, empathy, reflecting back what they heard you say, or advice.
The group meets over Zoom. It is intentionally kept small (7 or 8 people) in order to foster a safe container for sharing. Please contact Bhakti if you would like to be on the waiting list. I am open to starting a second weekly group.
This is a collage I made last week. I call it my guide card. The solidity of the bus and the certainty of the maps contrast with the unknown in the upper left-hand corner. That unknowingness is where we are right now in this pandemic.
Not knowing is really where we always are. We just THINK we know. The bus can break down and the maps contain paper streets to protect their copyrights.
Facing the unknown, on the other hand, brings up anxiety and grief. Many have lost loved ones. Most have lost income. All have lost freedom.
Anxiety and grief ask for the tender comforting that a crying child wants. We each have the capacity to be that comfort for ourselves. We can rest in not knowing and just let it be for a little while. We can feed the strong part of ourselves so that when it is time to act we will be ready.
May you shelter in that protective space.
Bhakti Watts, End of Life Doula
Experience Magazine published an essay highlighting the work of Bhakti Watts:
Many times, doulas solicit anecdotes and shared memories from people in the patient’s life so the patient can see their impact on others. Bhakti Watts, a Seattle-based death doula, is frequently asked to help set up reconciliations so that a dying person can make amends or let go of a long-held grudge. She’s also helped people craft last “traditional” experiences. She recently stepped in as a party planner for a cancer patient who knew he wouldn’t be able eat or speak down the road.
“We invited his friends to a wine bar and had all kinds of food,” she says. “You might think it would be hard, but people loved being there. And it was a chance for him to say goodbye to people he cared about while he still felt well.”