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Thoughts of an End of Life Doula

Navigating Grief During the Holidays
March 26, 2024

The holiday season is often portrayed as a time of joy and celebration, but for many of us, it can also be a poignant reminder of those who are no longer with us. Whether you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, a relationship, or a sense of normalcy, it’s okay to acknowledge the pain and honor your feelings during this time.

Honoring Memories: Take moments to honor and cherish the memories of those who are no longer with us. Set up a special place or activity that celebrates their presence in our lives.

Seeking Support: Know that you’re not alone in your grief. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who can provide comfort and understanding during this challenging time. Sometimes sharing your feelings can lighten the burden.

Self-Care: Be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to scale back on traditions or create new ones that feel more manageable. Take time for self-care activities that bring you solace, whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk in nature, or simply resting.

Open Communication: Communicate your needs with those around you. Let friends and family know if certain activities or conversations are too difficult for you right now. They may not always understand, but honest communication can foster greater understanding and support.

Finding Meaning: Explore ways to find meaning and connection during this season. Whether it’s volunteering, participating in a spiritual practice, or engaging in creative expression, finding purpose can bring a sense of fulfillment and hope.

Remember, grief doesn’t follow a calendar, and it’s okay if the holidays feel different this year. Be patient with yourself, allow yourself to feel what you feel, and know that healing is a journey. Together, we can navigate this season with compassion, understanding, and resilience.

Warmly,

Anne-Marie

I am very proud to announce Red Door Doula’s newest Trusted Partner: Cypress Funeral & Cremation Services
March 6, 2024

This locally owned, family-run business has been serving Kamloops for over 10 years now. They provide an honest and flexible approach to pre-planning, cremations, funeral and burial services with eco-friendly options, and have the best prices available. They treat each family with the utmost care and respect, providing comfort during difficult times.

In working with them, I am able to confidently recommend them to my clients, knowing they will be taken care of by a company that truly cares, and is passionate about what they do. This provides you with preparedness, confidence, and continuity during difficult times.

Please feel free to reach out to them at kamloops@cypressfuneral.ca or 250-554-2324

For more information, reach out to Anne-Marie at info@reddoordoula.com or 250-679-0616

“What do you do if your client is religious/not religious?”
February 16, 2024

No matter where a client is in their spiritual journey, I will meet them there. I will not impose my beliefs on a client, because my beliefs aren’t important in that moment. What matters is what is going on in a client’s head and heart, and how I can help them arrive at acceptance and peace.

I’m continuously studying different belief systems to be able to cater to any client, whether they are religious, spiritual, scientific, in between, or none of the above. I also love learning about different cultures and beliefs from clients and their loved ones.

Regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or any other defining characteristic, I value each person’s unique journey and seek to create a safe and inclusive environment for them.

What truly matters is the sincerity and genuineness of the interactions shared. By embracing diversity and honoring the inherent worth of every individual, I strive to offer comfort, guidance, and companionship to those navigating the end-of-life process, ensuring that everyone feels respected, understood, and supported during this deeply personal journey.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at: info@reddoordoula.com

Warmly,

Anne-Marie

Use Your Voice: What to say to someone who is grieving
February 3, 2024

It’s difficult to put your feelings into words sometimes, especially when you’re trying to comfort a loved one who is grieving a loss. You wish you could just take away their pain but know that you can’t. This helpless feeling can lead to not knowing what to say or how to say it.

Remember: people often won’t remember the words you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. They want to feel seen and heard, so acknowledging their feelings and validating them are important. Ask if they want to talk about it and let them know you’re there if they need someone to talk to. They may not receive your words well since they are deep in grief, but don’t let that deter you from letting them know they’re not alone in it. There is not much that can be said that will bring them comfort during this time, but you can show up anyways, and be a source of comfort when they’re ready.

Remember also to avoid phrases that begin with. “at least..”, avoid clichés like, “they’re in a better place now” and “everything happens for a reason”. Don’t try to fix, explain, or minimize their pain. Don’t compare a loss you’ve experienced to theirs, even if you’re trying to let them see you understand their pain. These are things that you may say to keep your personal comfort intact around situations like this. Someone else’s grief is not about you, it’s about them and how you can be there for them, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for you. Do not let your fears of saying or doing the wrong thing stop you from reaching out.

Here are some things you can say or write to someone who is grieving:

“I’m sorry for your loss. I’m here for you.”

“I’m sending my deepest sympathies for your loss.”

“I’m thinking of you and sending you love and support.”

“We’re heartbroken for your loss and thinking of you.”

“Sending heartfelt condolences.”

“Wishing you peace during this difficult time.”

“Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.”

“I know I can’t take away your pain, but I’m here for you if you want to talk about them.”

“They meant the world to so many people and will be deeply missed.”

“They touched so many lives, I’m grateful to have gotten the chance to know them.”

“Holding you close in my thoughts.”

“We’re sorry to hear of your loss, we share in your sorrow.”

“I offer you my heartfelt friendship and support during this difficult time.”

“May you find comfort in the arms of those who care about you.”

“My heart aches for you and your loved ones during this time of loss.”

“Their presence brought light and joy into many lives.”

“Their memory will forever be cherished.”

Maybe words don’t feel enough for you, and you’d like to take action but don’t know where to start; here is a list of things you can do for someone navigating through grief:

-sitting with them, with no expectations or advice or guidance; simply sharing the same space.

-initiate a food train where their loved ones provide meals on rotating schedules; this is especially effective if they have allergies or intolerances.

– check in with them regularly and ask, “how are you doing today?”

-help out with regular chores such as taking out the garbage, doing errands, cleaning, and laundry.

-if you’re comfortable with it, ask if they need help with funeral arrangements.

-watch their children or animals

-drive them wherever they may need to go

-take them for lunch or go for a walk

-offer to be the point-person for inquiries about the funeral service

-keep showing up, keep reaching out. Most people stop checking in after around 3 months have passed. Keep checking in, especially on anniversaries, holidays, and birthdays.

-listen more, talk less. Let them cry. Ask questions about their loved one.

-bring them gifts such as books (there are many beautifully written books on grief), tea, snacks, self-care items, candles, or a journal and pen.

Hopefully this article is a good start to help you as you’re grief-adjacent.

Warmly,

Anne-Marie

info@reddoordoula.com

Photo Credit: Ann Steenhuysen Photography

Why did I choose to be an End of Life Doula?
January 22, 2024

I’ve been navigating grief in its many forms since I was a small child. Each time I experienced a loss, I grew to understand myself better and have a different and renewed perspective about life. Grief is incredibly isolating, even though it is a shared human experience. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to help people through it.

I was a Cemetery Director for a time and I knew this was the right industry for me to be in, but when it was commission-based and sales motivated, I just couldn’t do it. It didn’t align with my values to push people to spend all their money and savings, or go into debt, when they’re in such a vulnerable and delicate space. Therefore, I knew I was in the right place, just the wrong time.

As soon as I found out that End of Life Doulas existed, I jumped on it – knowing that it was now the right time. So here I am, ready to serve and help as many people as I possibly can, so I can leave this world a little better than I found it.

Thank you for being here on this journey with me, and for all of your support. It means the world to me.

Warmly, Anne-Marie // 1-250-679-0616 // info@reddoordoula.com

“Wrap them in Bamboo” – BKco
January 17, 2024

Red Door Doula Services is happy to work in association with BKco, who makes high-quality, cozy bamboo chemo hats.

This extraordinary Canadian company launched their mission in 2018 to give back to the Cancer Community, called “Wrap Them In Bamboo”.

For every Original Slouch Beanie sold, they donate a Bamboo Chemo hat to a woman or child fighting cancer.

Order a Bamboo Chemo hat through Red Door Doula, and receive a coupon for 20% off

Visit their website at www.bkco.ca and contact Anne-Marie at info@reddoordoula.com for your coupon code

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” – Vicki Harrison
January 12, 2024

Navigating Digital Grief

In this digital age, where our lives are intricately woven into the virtual realm, the experience of grieving has undergone a profound transformation. The loss of a loved one is an emotionally challenging journey, and the advent of technology has introduced both solace and complications to the grieving process.

The pandemic has changed so many things, including the need for virtual memorials and online tributes. In the absence of physical gatherings, many individuals turn to creating virtual memorials or online tributes to honor the departed. Platforms such as social media, memorial websites, and online forums provide a space for friends and family to share memories, condolences, and expressions of support. These digital spaces become a repository of shared grief, allowing people to connect across geographical boundaries.

Despite the advantages of virtual mourning, there are complications unique to the digital realm. With the instant sharing of information, some family members are notified of a passing on social media before they can be properly informed – and this causes unspeakable trauma. Also, the permanence of online content may inadvertently amplify grief as reminders of the departed persist in digital spaces. For some this may bring solace, for some this may be triggering.

Managing the digital footprint of the departed becomes a delicate task. Privacy concerns arise as individuals grapple with the decision of whether to preserve or deactivate digital accounts. Unintended reminders, such as automated birthday notifications or suggested friend requests, can catch grieving individuals off guard, intensifying the emotional impact.

Recognizing the unique challenges of grieving in the digital age, online support communities have emerged. These platforms offer a safe space for individuals to share their experiences, exchange coping strategies, and find understanding from those facing similar circumstances. Digital support groups provide a sense of connection in a time when physical presence may be limited.

Rituals and ceremonies play a crucial role in the grieving process and adapting them to the digital space becomes essential. Lighting virtual candles, sharing favorite songs or photos through video calls, and organizing online memorial services are ways to incorporate meaningful rituals.

As we navigate the complexities of grieving in the digital age, it’s essential to acknowledge both the benefits and challenges that technology brings to the mourning process. Finding a balance between embracing the support offered by virtual communities and managing the potential complications is key. In a world where our lives are increasingly intertwined with the digital realm, understanding how to grieve digitally is a crucial aspect of the evolving landscape of loss and healing.

Grief from the loss of a loved one or beloved pet can be isolating and complicated; here are some ways that you can work through your grief from home:

1. Join Grief Support Communities:

• Participate in online grief support groups and forums where you can share your feelings and experiences with others who are also grieving.

• Join a local grief support group

2. Blogging or Journaling:

• Start a grief blog or journal to express your thoughts and feelings. This can be a personal space for reflection and a way to connect with others.

• Even writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper will help you reflect and remember and process your emotions as you grieve.

3. Artistic Expression:

• Share your grief through creative outlets like writing, poetry, music, or art on platforms that allow you to express your emotions.

4. Online Counseling or Therapy:

• Seek professional support through online counseling or therapy services. Many therapists offer virtual sessions to help individuals cope with grief.

5. Mindfulness and Meditation Apps:

• Use mindfulness and meditation apps to help manage stress and anxiety associated with grief. These can provide guided sessions for relaxation and emotional well-being.

For more available resources, or to speak to Anne-Marie about booking for Grief Work services, please email info@reddoordoula.com

Remember that it’s essential to prioritize your well-being during the grieving process, and seeking professional help if needed is always a valid and healthy option. Be gentle with yourself – the healing is in the feeling.

“The greatest gift that you can give to others and to yourself is time. Embrace the gift of time whether you give it or receive it.” – Philip Zimbardo
December 18, 2023

To those of us who are grieving during the holiday season, remember there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Whatever you are feeling is valid. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t feel guilty if you have moments of happiness. Don’t feel obligated to be sad if that’s not what you’re feeling in the moment. You’re allowed to be happy and grieve at the same time. It’s okay to want to be alone. It’s okay to not want to be alone.

To those of us who love someone who is grieving during the holiday season, don’t be scared to approach them and let them know you’re there for them. Witness them, listen to them, hold space for them, acknowledge them, and help them find ways to remember and honor who they have lost. Say their name. Ask for a favorite story or photo. Talking of their loved one or pet can bring comfort and keep their memories alive. You don’t need to have the perfect words to say to them, you just need to be there for them.

This holiday season, practice self-care. Make new connections, nurture old ones, do that thing you’ve been meaning to do, start that new hobby, volunteer, give out genuine compliments, tend to your senses, read that book, write letters, send cards, have deep and meaningful conversations, make strangers laugh or smile, feed your soul. Give the gift of your time and love. ❤

Exciting News!
November 18, 2023

I have exciting news!

I am now partnered with No Story Lost ♡

After phone interviews and sending them your favorite photos, No Story Lost will create a beautiful coffee table book for you and your family! Such a wonderful legacy or memorial project ♡

This Canadian company will also send a proof of your book so you can give it the final okay.

Order through Red Door Doula Services and you’ll receive a coupon code to get 2 extra books for free!

www.nostorylost.com for more information, or feel free to send me a message or email at info@reddoordoula.com

Wildfires and Grief
October 24, 2023

Grief is the experience of coping with a loss – you can experience grief from many things, including the loss of a loved one, loss of identity, loss of relationships, and more.

As the fire season comes to a close here in British Columbia, I’d like to discuss the traumatic grief, delayed grief, and collective grief caused by the Bush Creek East fire.

This year was particularly bad. The fires came quickly and lingered; the skies were orange from the smoke and flames, and the air was thick and difficult to breathe. The rain that did come was not nearly enough. The air pollution reached across the provinces. Some people were on alert for weeks, some people were evacuated and had to leave behind their entire lives, taking with them whatever they could carry that was most precious to them.

The anxiety of waiting on evacuation alert can be crippling. How do you decide what to take with you – what are your most precious material items? You also have to be cognizant of your water and food supplies, animal supplies, gas in your vehicles, watering your roof and yard in case of embers, all while still having to maintain some sense of normalcy and being ready to leave at any time. And of course, the doom-scrolling on the phone for any possible new information and trying to keep loved ones updated as you try to remain cautiously optimistic.

The anxiety of having to leave your home behind, without knowing if you’ll see it again, is indescribable. Being displaced is scary and every moment is spent wanting to go back home. The organizations take care of you, and wonderful people donate anything and everything you could possibly need, which is amazing and heartwarming. A silver lining to a very dark cloud that follows you around until you hear the words, “all clear”.

At one point, the highway between Blind Bay and Chase was closed due to safety issues, and all you could hear was the echo of sirens and helicopters. The birds had all left. The semi trucks no longer rumbled down the road. It was eerie and surreal.

Driving through the devastation is a sobering experience. Seeing the destruction caused by fires brings about an emotion I cannot name, only feel in my chest. To see the communities come together during this time was inspiring. Thousands of people were displaced, and complete strangers welcomed them into their homes. Many donated supplies for the fire fighters and evacuees. And even still, people are donating household items, clothing, food, etc to those still displaced. A reminder of how strong we can be when we treat others with love, empathy, and compassion. The collective grief felt in our communities comes from our shared experiences this summer and has brought so many people together.

There were 176 structures lost in the Bush Creek East fire this year. The material loss, the loss of identity, the loss of safety; these are all things that will cause traumatic grief. It is devastating and will mark a chapter in your life, creating a core memory. Being at the mercy of nature is a very humbling experience we all share.

Surviving through a collectively devastating natural disaster will absolutely cause grief – some mourning the loss of their homes, their animals, or their loved ones. Some mourning the loss of their previous day-to-day lives as they adapt to their new normal. You can also feel more than one type of grief at a time. If you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, heavy, scattered, angry, scared – this is normal, and you are not alone. You are mourning the loss of your old normal life, the loss of who you were. Anything you are feeling right now is valid.

Grief can cause loss of reading comprehension, short-term memory loss, forgetfulness, headaches, nausea, confusion, sleeping more/less, and eating more/less. You may be on the other side of your grief, you may still be grieving, and you may have delayed grief. There is no right or wrong way to grieve or feel right now, as long as it causes no harm.

Coping with grief takes patience and time. Be gentle with yourself, practice self care, and tend to your emotions. If you are struggling with your grief, please reach out to a loved one, a mentor, or to me if you’d like to talk or receive some resources to help you.

What shouldn’t you say to a cancer patient?
October 11, 2023

This article shows some examples of things NOT to say to someone whos had or has cancer, or even someone with chronic or terminal illnesses.

Being so uncomfortable with the topic on hand, people may try to minimize it or brush it off. But remember, this discussion isn’t about you; it’s about them.

How to respond to someone who’s told you their diagnosis? With love, and empathy. Meet them where they are at. Ask them questions. Witness them and hold space for them. Make them feel seen and heard.

https://www.roswellpark.org/…/what-not-say-cancer…

“Embrace your grief. For there, your soul will grow” -C.G. Jung
July 16, 2023

We are not meant to stay in grief. We are meant to move forward with it, as a part of us; something that gives perspective, lessons, and love.

Many people feel a grief so profound that it becomes their whole identity. The grief consumes them and takes away who they are, or were meant to be. Don’t marinade in it. Don’t make it your identity. Move forward, with love and hope for yourself.

While navigating through grief, we will experience every emotion. Heavy sadness, light hope, anger, denial, sprinkles of happiness, then guilt for not remaining in a state of grieving.

Be patient with yourself. As long as you do not cause harm to yourself or others, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Your experience is unique. You are not alone. Your feelings are valid. Allow yourself to feel them, and explore them.

If you are struggling with grief, please reach out to a loved one, a professional, or by sending me a message at info@reddoordoula.com

You deserve to heal, and be happy.

Today, my anticipatory grief feels like denial.
July 4, 2023

Today, my anticipatory grief feels like denial.

Soon, we will have to say goodbye to our oldest dog, my first dog ever, Dug.

Today, I am in denial as I watch him chase his tail. Catch bubbles in the air. Demand treats.

Today, I recognize that denial. I reject it. I face it. I will do one thing today that scares me, and that is accept that my best friend of 16 years will soon be ready for his next adventure.

Love you, Dug. You’re the goodest boy. You did so good. Sniff all the butts you can find. Eat all the bubbles. Catch that tail. We’ll see you later for snugs. ❤

“Where are the rules of grief written, and who do we offend when we write our own?” – Sally Britton
July 2, 2023

As long as you do no harm to yourself or another, write your own rules of grief.

Tend to your grief, but do not live there forever.

Be gentle with yourself.

We do not ‘get over’ grief, rather, we move forward with it. Move forward with lessons learned and love in your heart.

One question I’ve been asked is, “when will I know I’m ‘done’ grieving?”

We are never fully done, grief leaves a mark on our hearts, but we do move forward on our path.

But, when the memories of that person or animal brings you warmth and a smile instead of tears, you’re on the other side of grief.

Do not rush your grief to get to the other side of it. Allow yourself to feel the emotions; explore them. Then allow yourself to move forward, knowing a lifetime of grief will rob you of the happiness you very much deserve. ♡

If you are struggling with grief, please reach out to a loved one, a professional, or by sending me a message at info@reddoordoula.com