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A dignified and spiritual death

“I had spent the better part of late summer and early fall discussing dignified and spiritual death with mum. She was suffering terribly from bouts of COPD and the terrifying reality that her death was near, likely by suffocation. During a trip home early in November, she said she was ready, was at peace and needed permission from me to go. She had it from my brothers, the church minister and her friends. That discussion was not without fear and sadness, for the both of us. A dear friend and doula at home contacted Christiane Zeithammel; a very respected death doula in Ottawa. I invited her to coffee to see if our family and she might coalesce around the support we needed for this moment. Within seconds of sitting with Christiane, I felt her calm, wise and confident presence. There was no question that she should meet mum so, we went upstairs to her suite promptly. They had, what I imagine was, a profound discussion about death; at intellectual, spiritual and emotional levels. Mum was a smart cookie. Mum asked Christiane what she was reading….a litmus test for character throughout mum’s life. Christiane passed the test! They spoke over the next few days. Christiane sacrificed her personal time away from her final dissertation to work with us as a family. Mum’s condition declined quite rapidly; not surprising that she ‘willed’ this to happen. Normally, Christiane would have more time to prepare and support the family. Here we were asking her to bring us solace and clarity at 0-60mph. I know for certain that mum felt supported by Christiane’s wisdom in her final few days. My brothers and I were comforted by her explanations of what was evolving; with such grace that I felt uplifted and honoured to be present with her; for mum. I can easily say that I would not have managed this profound time so clearly without Christiane’s guidance. Her support gave me the ‘space’ to do nothing but ‘be’ there for mum (as Christine so aptly described it). To ‘be’ for a moment that changes life. To let go of all the roles and care-giving in order to watch one of the most beautiful and touching few days unfold. Mum gave me this gift. Christiane gave me this gift. May 8th is 6 months to the day since mum’s passing into the heavens. I did not choose this day to write this testimonial; exactly 6 months. It chose me.”  – Jennifer