Death midwifery is a social movement: It is village making. It is a grassroots response to the cultural alienation we are feeling from dying, deathcare and grief. Death midwifery is a community centred response that recognizes death as a natural, accepted and honoured part of life.

    One might say that death midwifery is to hospice palliative care as the slow food movement is to large scale agricultural practices, or as birth midwifery is to obstetrics.

    In fact death midwifery has lots in common with birth midwifery, though some folks react negatively to the common vocabulary; saying, "birth is a good thing while death is bad, you can't relate the two" and of course there are those who worry about usurping birth midwives title since it refers to a specific skillset and credentials; however, birth midwives tend to embrace the comparison because they "get it." That is to say that they understand the value of community centred responses to such important life transitions and they realize that while their services are appreciated, neither birth nor death necessitates intervention.

    Birth and death midwifery also share a historical precedent. The 'shrouding women' used to be available to families to assist with the practical tasks associated with birthing and dying at home, but the art of death midwifery has to do with a willingness to be physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually present to all aspects of dying and grieving. A death midwife is called to model a mature understanding of death and to empower and inspire communities to reclaim deathcare by participating in it.

    In the UK, a death midwife is someone who offers support for end stage dying and transition as a hospice volunteer might. This work is also called soul or spiritual midwifery. In the US home funeral guides sometimes refer to themselves as death midwives, and they educate families to provide home based post death care for their loved ones. Others call themselves thanadoulas, death doulas, end of life coaches, etc. What we have in common is a calling to encourage and facilitate a cultural re engagement with dying deathcare and grief.

    Another value we share is the recognition that there is a need for continuity of support across the pan death spectrum. While most end of life professionals offer services that are specific to 'pre' or 'post' death care, death midwives embrace a holistic, deeply ecological model where relationship building is the primary capacity.

    Some people worry that the words death midwifery are scary and put people off; thereby alienating practitioners from those we wish to serve, but I think that the fear such words may inspire in a death denying culture are the very reason that the movement itself is so essential.

    Within the broad field of death midwifery I personally feel compelled to offer post death care support. As a grief counselor I am particularly curious about how visceral involvement with post death care has potential therapeutic benefits for bereaved families and communities. In my private practice I offer education about death midwifery as well as home funeral guidance and bereavement support, but my main passion is the development of a national community of practice for Canadian death midwives which is underway.

    Please don't hesitate to contact me about anything to do with death midwifery!