What do you do when given a terminal diagnosis? Who do you turn to when the doctors say you only have a few months to live?
Unless you have been there yourself, it is hard to imagine what those words stir within you. Perhaps a combination of fear, disbelief but also, peace.
We are all just here for a temporary journey, but sometimes it is easy to forget this. We go about our day, we lose sight of the end game, and start getting attached to life and all of its material possessions.
It is only when death comes knocking that we stop to pause, and reflect- Have we done enough? Have we lived a life that has brought us meaning?
We are all going to die one day. We are all going to pass on and transcend this earthly realm, it’s just that some people are more aware of this than others.
If you or a loved one has been given a terminal diagnosis or is facing death, there is someone you can turn to, someone is who is trained to help not only on an emotional and physical level, but also on a spiritual level- a Death Doula.
Just like a midwife or doula helps to birth a baby into this world, a Death Doula helps to transition a soul out of this world.
The work of a Death Doula stems from an ancient shamanic practice that involves helping not only the mind and body prepare for death, but also the soul.
Ashley Brothers, a practicing Death Doula describes her role as a spiritual counselor, guide, companion, and a conductor of souls who helps them shift from this reality into the afterlife.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Ashley and was curious about what led her to walking the path of a Death Doula. It turns out facing her own death was what catapulted her into being of service to souls who are preparing to return home.
Ashley was a born intuitive medium, but her gifts were never nurtured as she grew up in an abusive household. This set her on a path of depression and low-self esteem, and eventually, she found herself in an abusive relationship as well.
Through years of abuse and following the death of her mother, Ashley prayed for her own life to be taken away too. Little did she know that her prayers were going to be answered in the most meaningful way.
As Ashley and I were talking, she shared that even though we observe death as being something very physical and final, death is actually something that is happening all the time. Some of us are still here in the physical, and yet feel dead on the inside. Some of us may appear to be perfectly healthy, but feel that life is no longer worth living.
The process of death can take years, months, or days. Death is not just about your final moments in your physical body, it is about the whole you. Your mind, body, and soul, and how alive you feel at any given moment.
After feeling dead inside for so long, and wishing her life away, Ashley was diagnosed with ovarian cysts. Although the surgery was supposed to be straightforward, she ended up having multiple life-threatening complications due to a large pad of gauze being left behind in her abdominal cavity.
The gauze caused her to lose her entire reproductive system and damaged multiple organs. She also developed an autoimmune disease that ate through multiple arteries, resulting in 16 strokes, and multiple seizures. Because her conditions were the result of medical malpractice, the doctors she went to refused to offer treatment and care.
Despite, or perhaps because of their unwillingness to help, the doctors suggested for Ashley to get her affairs in order. The prognosis was so bleak that Ashley ended up writing her will and pre-paying for her own cremation. After years of wishing her life away, she was now staring death in the face.
In her desperation, Ashley turned to her spirit guides for advice. Through her communications with them, they offered her guidance on what to eat and how to manage the symptoms she was experiencing. They also led her to the one doctor who agreed to perform a highly complex cardiovascular surgery that ultimately ended up saving her life.
You wouldn’t know by looking at her but the blood supply to both legs, her left arm, and brain now flows through synthetic tubes made of Gortex and Dacron. As part of her recovery process, she had to relearn how to read, do math, and use the left side of her body again.
The entire decade-long process of death and survival taught Ashley how to build a solid relationship with her spirit guides. Through their daily communication, they taught her how to assist others healing from abuse and how to help souls transition to the other side.
Empowering the living and compassionately assisting the dying became the passionate vow that Ashley clung to in her darkest moments. It was this purpose that gave her a new reason to fight for the life she once wished away. Everything suddenly took on a whole new meaning. Everything became sacred and nothing was taken for granted.
Through years of training with various indigenous healers, Ashley learned how to heal her decades of abuse and trauma and lead a much more fulfilling life as a healer and teacher of shamanic healing techniques and energy medicine.
After being the aide and friend for many who are facing the finality of their life, Ashley shared these insights about her process as a Death Doula-
- It is important to meet the clients and see what would bring forth the highest healing good for them and their loved ones. What are their spiritual or religious beliefs? What are their wishes, fears, or expectations about the death and the transition process?
- Where does someone need clarity and resolution? What does someone need to say or do to bring peace and closure to their lives? Whom do they need to forgive? Whom do they seek forgiveness from? Whom do they need to love or be loved by? If this can not be done in person, this resolution can be guided by the Death Doula on a soul level.
- Where does the client they think they will go when they die? Where do they wish to go? Whom do they wish to meet them on the other side? A Death Doula can assist them in guided meditations or journeys so that they know the way when the time comes.
- To help the body unwind, a death mandala and spirit animal totem is provided to help the person transition to the other side with ease they can also use the mandala or call upon the power animal at any time to bring them peace or ease any pain and suffering.
- It is important for loved ones to give the soul permission to leave, many souls hang on for the sake of the family. Let the person know that whatever they did or did not do in this lifetime is forgiven, that they did the best they could, and they now have person to let go.
- At any time during the transition process, a Death Doula can help ease the pain and lighten the vibration of the client by clearing out and unwinding their chakras in certain way so that they can exit through their heart chakra or higher.
- After the final breath has been taken, the Death Doula can meet that soul in the other reality and guide them to the angels and ancestors waiting for them. Once the soul has been safety escorted, the Death Doula can then seal the chakras.
It was the dying process that not only taught Ashley about life and passion, but also who and what have value to her.
While many wait until death comes knocking to realize what is truly important, wouldn’t it be far more powerful to start this process now?
Living your life to the fullest is not about being reckless, it is about living from a place of meaning and feeling truly grateful for the gift of life. It is about knowing who you are and allowing yourself to be guided by your own truth.