Offering Grace to those Facing End-of-Life in the Age of Covid
In the midst of unprecedented personal, national and global oppression, suffering and death, how do we process loss to maintain hopeful connections?
That was one of the hard questions, grief counselors considered during a discussion on the topic of End-of-Life in the Age of Covid hosted by the Sanctuary of Independent Media, virtually,last Friday.
Among the panelists were three women of color, including Brooklyn’s Naomi Edmondson, 31, who is a Death Doula, one of thousands in a growing field of women and men who help those at the end of their life with dying, just like birth doulas help at the beginning of life with the birthing process.
Lisa Good and Carizma Whitaker of Urban Grief also participated in the discussion which covered their personal experiences: providing end-of-life care to a loved one, and the creation of social and spiritual community during the pandemic.
The panel participants spoke on systemic racism in death care; their family and community experiences with dying and death; honoring the memory and voices of the dying; and how our grief can inform and inspire and be responsive to those most hard hit by Covid.
The life journeys that brought these women to help the dying transition were varied. For Edmondson it was a matter of “Going with Grace.”
In commenting on her journey, she shares these words on her website:
I was moved to begin this journey in 2014, after the death of a close mother figure. During her dying process, I unknowingly fell into the role of a Death Guide. I provided safe, loving space for her to freely express her thoughts around dying. I sat vigil, recorded her stories and listened to the concerns of her family. Inhabiting that tender space with her/them was tremendous.
Years later, wanting to provide that same safe space to others, I completed my Death Doula training via Going With Grace, participated as a Student Guide, and trained as a Hospice Volunteer.
The lifelong Brooklynite (draws upon her self-described) “compassionate listening skills, background in art, Breathwork training and personal experience creating rituals, to “walk with” her clients to help them with their personal and collective grief and loss.
Edmundson also is Hospice Volunteer with Visiting Nurse Services and Friendly Phone Volunteer with Griot Circle.
Lisa Good, MSW, is founding director of Urban Grief, a trauma-informed community-based organization that educates on the effects of violence and supports those affected through outreach and victim advocacy.
She has over 25 years of human service experience. She is an experienced speaker and trainer, facilitating trauma-informed workshops such as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and community events, and faith-based workshops aimed at creating healing spaces and empowering community members through information about trauma, grief, and resilience. Contact: www.lisawgood.com
Carizma Whittaker, MSW, an alum of Winston Salem State University, has worked working in human services and healthcare field for eight years. In starting her career as a school Social Worker, she was awarded the Social Worker of the Year award. She currently works as a Trauma Therapist for Urban Grief through Trinity Alliance, where she counsels on violence prevention. She was inspired by personal family experiences to join the human services field. Her motto: “we will figure it out together.”
Urban Grief is a “trauma informed and healing centered” 501(c)(3) community-based organization that responds to the traumatic impact of community violence, death and loss through community education, crisis response, victim advocacy and grief support. UG acknowledges the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), along with chronic exposure to traumatic events, and strives to avoid further re-traumatization.
About People’s Health Sanctuary
The People’s Health Sanctuary, based in the Capital Region, is a central space to share health skills, provide basic integrative care and explore ways to build networks of community health. It is currently celebrating a year of organizing around projects like this under the organizing name of Health Autonomy Clinic. After listening sessions with the surrounding community, the project was re-named People’s Health Sanctuary.
For more information, visit: .mediasanctuary.org