Can we talk about death for a minute?
Ok, so we have all more or less felt the effects of the coronavirus invasion in our lives in some way or the other. Either we have been living in confinement for the past 2 to 3 weeks or more, or maybe we lost our jobs, or maybe we are struggling financially, or dealing with anxiety and depression, or maybe we have lost someone or we know someone who has recently passed because of the lung disease that this virus can cause. Maybe the fear of death has been has been lurking around your soul... and that's ok. Shall we try to have an honest conversation about it?
So I know a couple of young people who have passed due to complications after they caught the virus. They had previous medical conditions, one had developped pneumonia before catching it, and the other was a type 1 diabetic. They weren't close friends, but I had connected with both of them in different times in my life and I remember something special about both of them. And I cherish that and I honor their existence on this planet as well as their passing.
Earlier this morning I also heard of a laboring mama whose baby died in utero while she was in labor. I don't know her or anything about her history. But the friend who sent me the message received from me what may have seemed a cold reponse. Listen people. I don't mean to be harsh or insensitive. But one thing that this covid-19 crisis has revealed to us is how completely disconnected from death we all are collectively. Death is a part of life: it is the work of the shadows, the blood that women lose every month, the perishment of the body that our western culture continues to deny. It is just the other side of the spectrum, not really separated from it, but merely the other side of the coin.
By no means do I want to diminish or disregard the losses and grief that people are suffering, being due to covid-19 or not. My attempt here is just to call your attention, reader, to the fact that this human existence in this body as we perceive as real is finite. Life does not come with instructions or guarantees. There are no guarantees. The illusion of safety in birth created and ritualized by the medical model is just that: a lie. If you are a birth worker (midwife or doula) and never ever raised the conversation of death with your pregnant client, I tell you: your job was incomplete. We must stop with this ridiculessness of thinking that birth comes without risk. We must work with women in full honesty, raising the subject of death so we can better deal with it in the super rare occasion that it happens, because it happes sometimes! Some babies don't make it, and that's ok. Yes, that's hard, no one wants to think about it and no one wants or deserves this, but maybe if we could just try and have the difficult conversations beforehand, then maybe we would be better equipped to deal with these difficult situations when they arise.
There is so much we, living this human experience, don't know and will never know. There is so much mystery in life, birth and in death. And mind you, I am not talking about scaring women into whatever the technocratic model of birth uses to play with women's guilt and fear saying things like: "oh, your placenta is old, or there's a cord around the baby's neck, or your baby isn't growing fast enough, or you're not progressing well or fast enough in labor", you know all those silly things shoved at women's faces as "medical reasons" to intervene as fast as possible so that they can "save" the baby's lilfe! Oh, no! Please! Maybe this is an invitation for you, birth worker, birthkeeper, to ask yourself how you feel about death and how you have been raising this subject with your clients. Because it has to start somewhere! Let it start with me!
First I ask myself: how do I feel about death? Have I had any experience with death in this life time? How was it like? Do I carry any trauma in relation to someone I loved who died? What is my relationship with my own blood? Do I honor my "monthly death" or do I not look at it and pretend it doesn't exit? Do I fear death? Do I believe in a greater awareness: source, universe, god, nature?... How do I deal with these feelings of loss and grief? What are the tools I can use with myself in relation to surrendering and letting go? Have I been choosing love over fear in my life? There's only one or the other. Yes, death and suffering hurt. And we must live this hurt, and grieve, only then will we be able to let go. I'm not talking about denial. My proposal is that we bring honesty to the table and raise the conversation of death because it is inevitable and it will happen to all of us eventually.