The Dying Year made a positive impact in 2020!
What a year it has been. All of the turmoil and pain of the multiple pandemics and the death and loss we have experienced has exposed many cracks in our lives and in our systems. It is my sincere hope that some light may shine through the cracks on you and your loved ones as we come to the close of this tumultuous year and begin the new one.
During the hardships of this year, we at The Dying Year have made an impact as we have done our best to create safe spaces to increase awareness and learn and grow together. Our aim is to help us all be better end-of-life caregivers. We will continue on this journey to learn to talk about difficult and uncomfortable issues. When this company began in March we were immediately thrust into helping EOL doulas adapt to the realities of providing Covid-appropriate care. Then our greatest change began when George Floyd was murdered. I (Merilynne) and many other white-identified people started examining, and stepping out of, the selfish and self-protective bubbles we had constructed, into a deeper awareness of oppression, white-supremacy, and systematic and institutional racism. Through all of this, we have been looking at how our biases and practices affect our work. What a growth year it has been! Some of the things I have learned include how to:
Jess, Toula, Robin, Olivia, Star and Merilynne taught four series of end-of-life doula trainings to 41 students. Three students have received their EOL doula certification and nine more are on their way!
Merilynne taught five Advance Care Planning Facilitator trainings and certified 8 facilitators through the Respecting Choices® program.
Kim Adams and Merilynne taught 19 people how to help families care for their own dead at home in the hours and days after death at the Home Funeral/Green Burial workshop.
On average, twelve people attend our Wednesday EOL doula open discussions every week, where we explore many diverse topics, from building business skills to examining implicit bias to working in various care settings to Alzheimer’s care. This group has become quite a nurturing space for us to share and learn together. We welcome you, we honor you, we strive to see you as complete and whole, with your own answers, as someone who can contribute to us all, and who deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Many thanks to Rachel Briggs for her steadfast and dedicated assistance in keeping this group going. Networking and community building is a primary focus of this group and all are welcome to attend, no matter where you are on your journey of becoming. If you would like to contribute a topic or be a speaker, please let us know!
A primary accomplishment has been the publication of EOL doula research. Merilynne began a collaboration with academic researcher Dr. Marian Krawczyk in the fall of 2018. In 2019 we interviewed 21 EOL doula pioneers in four countries (Australia, UK, Canada and USA) about the EOL doula role and services provided, as well as thoughts on professional development and challenges within the field. “Describing the end-of-life doula role and practices of care: Perspectives from four countries” was published December 7 in the Journal of Palliative Care and Social Practice. This contributes greatly to the very slim body of research about our growing profession.
At The Dying Year, our goal is to continue to bring together EOL doulas from all backgrounds, locations, and experience levels to help grow this profession. We are very grateful to Marta Bartholomew, our new virtual assistant, for coming on board in December to help with this work! The more doulas there are, the more people there will be having doulas. We are needed now more than ever and we need not struggle alone in our communities. Please join us however you are able! Becoming a member of Patreon is the best way to get involved and support The Dying Year, and in so doing, support and nurture yourself on your journey. Bless you! And Happy Holidays!
Merilynne and everyone at The Dying Year