How aligning work with values changes everything …
When I was little I witnessed losing many of my family members. By the age of 13, I had been a part of 4 deaths, some of them graceful & loving and some of them traumatizing & hard. I had no awareness at that age that this transformative time in my life would find it’s way back to me much later.
What I felt | experienced most about those deaths in my early life was the community. The deaths that were held at home with beloveds surrounding were some of the more transformative deaths I have been invited to.
My maternal grandparents and great-grandparents were the subjects of these home deaths. Although I was young, there was a palpable sense of communal grief that was inextricably linked to the love being shared in each of these deathbed rooms. All of these dying people had cancer, none of these people chose curative treatments. All of these people stayed at home. And none of these people had the same experience.
What I learned early on is that no one talks about dying. I was curious and afraid as a child watching people become less and less recognizable to me (those actively dying and those clutching grief’s waistcoat). I also was astutely aware that I was not in the kind of family who deals with grief, loss, fear, and suffering in practical or even healthy ways. And we were all there, in the inevitable…watching, waiting, grieving, and together. This changed everything. How we choose to die and hold space for the dying is sacred work. Even then I could feel this truth.
What I have learned in my years of working with vulnerable communities is that denial is our strongest antidote to reality and harm reduction. Poverty, HIV, medical terrorism, oppression…they don’t exist to most of us if we cannot see it. So, we embark on a journey to rid the every day world of things we cannot tolerate. The medical and prison industrial complexes grow larger than our unaffordable housing structures. The pharmacy and healthcare fields champion even more life-saving medicine that only costs a year’s salary for a disease created by dirty water and poverty. And, when we are near death? Last room on each hallway on a hospital floor, farthest away from a nurse’s station is where 80% of us will end up…being avoided, like a bill too big to pay or a chore too laborious to complete. Most of us will die in the discomfort of a hospital with people trained to cure not care, when all of us want a better death than this.
Death is a universal experience. Much like birth, it will be a transition that we all are faced with. And, because we have moved death out of our homes, it is as mystifying, taboo, stigmatized, and terrifying as ever before. We have allowed the oppressive and capitalistic systems which harm us all to remove the fragment of sovereignty we have left for how we end this life and how we are remembered. We are at the precipice of a call to action. This is how everything changed for me.
Fed up with my implication in systems of harm, participating in and being harmed by community and carceral ways of living, I set out to reorient and realign with what matters to me most. And what matters most is a good life. A life worth living. A life and legacy that swells with gratitude, honor, and pride. One that requires only wholeness, authenticity and the belief that we have our own medicine within us.
Cradling The Cusp is a project that I have embarked on to change the way that we all live. We are alive all the way up until death. I am choosing to focus on the time between your awareness of your dying and the moment that takes place. For so many, this time is generative, confrontational, ripe with emotions, and too much to process alone. Death work is a work full of love, honoring, healing, and playful curiosity that seeks to ask “who have you been and what are you most grateful for” in every way possible so that grief and death feel more like old friends than sworn enemies.
A good death is possible. A death that honors the beautiful life we have had is vital. We can all be held, seen, honored, and soothed in the moments before we meet ourselves in the always. Before we are recommitted to a place we remember and haven’t met. Before we become yet another beautiful version of our selves.
Cradling The Cusp is my own legacy work that seeks to show you yours. And is dedicated to walking us all home to the always.