It’s been quite the journey to becoming (or realizing I’m) a Death Doula. I have had great training and resources through Hospice Toronto, continue to read and challenge myself with certifications and death education. But its been 2 years to the day since I applied for the End of Life Doula course and I keep finding meaningful moments that propel me forward on this path.
Just today I started with a new client who at the end of our phone conversation said, “Wow, this really helped, thank you for taking my call, I just really needed to talk to someone.” And sometimes it’s just that simple: being open to receiving another person’s story. Really listening and validating their experience. Other times its starting a discussion or sparking a debate on my TikTok about being a Death Doula – this time about the “tissue issue” and whether or not to give tissues to someone who is having a crying moment (as an act of mourning). And sometimes it’s me expressing my grief and end of life care journey for my loved ones through storytelling to help me process my grief journey and finding community. TikTok has been such a big part of my journey thus far!
With over 5k followers, I am finding like minded people and those who are curious about the death positive movement:
The more I do this, the more I find myself sharing stories and listening to other peoples stories and connecting through them – that’s the heart of or at least the focus of my doula practice. My training as an actor and playwright/English Minor in University has served me in ways I couldn’t foresee 20 years ago. What a neat evolution!
So looking forward to 2023, I already have a Doula To Do List! I am remaining curious and seeing where this path takes me.
Recently I had the pleasure of sharing a story with Stories We Don’t Tell, a storytelling gathering in Toronto. I like their mandate:
“There are some stories that we get really good at telling, we tell them to our friends, our coworkers, and even strangers at parties. We tell them because they are a part of us, and in doing so they build up our sense of self.
There are also stories we don’t tell, maybe because they’re sad, or weird, or just a little too intimate. These truths are just as much a part of who we are, despite being erased from our day-to-day conversation.
The Stories We Don’t Tell is a monthly live event, held in living rooms across Toronto, and podcast that gives you a window into experiences that are so often left unseen.”
I had the wonderful opportunity to do my not-so-one-woman show “Everything But The Cat…” for CMHA National #MH4A17 Conference and it was amazing! Met new amazing stigma fighters and even saw some familiar faces. The audience for my show was equally amazing, such great feedback and probably the world’s greatest hugs that ever happened in my life today. A special thank you to the AV team that hustled the conference room into a mini theatre, and to the team that puts together a great event to bring together stigma fighting warriors to learn from each other, inspire each other, and refuel on each other’s passion. Thank you to Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences#MindVine for having in as an impromptu guest, it was so great hanging out with you! And the love from Natalie from Art With Impact was so great just before I went into my presentation.
And as always Stevie Baker is the best Stage Manager and had my back & made the show that much more awesome!
So I am a huge nerd about certain things. I also am a closet shy-girl. Yes. Me. Shy. I fan-girl in the most awkward worst way possible. I am terribly shy and self-conscious around people that make the world a better place and make me want to be a better artist and person. One of these people is Sandra Shamas – who not only was an original puppeteer for Fraggle Rock (OMGTHATISSOFREAKINGCOOL) but she also has this great wit and writing style to her. Her series of one-woman shows has been a huge inspiration to me to write first person dialogue to the audience. A confessional theatre flavour. My script currently titled “Everything but the Cat… A Not-So-One-Woman-Show about Bereavement and Suicide” has the tag line on the front page as a synopsis:
“Sandra Shamas has a third date with Postsecret.” This describes my genre. It’s humour and wit, with that edge of intimacy and secret sharing that Postsecret is known for.
I was so excited to meet her and tell her I cried my ass off (tears of laughter mostly) with my mother at her most recent show in Toronto. I also squeed that yes, my show, was inspired to be in the format that I chose because I felt validated by reading/seeing her shows – has been picked up for workshopping and presentation with The New Ideas Festival 2013!!!! March 9th at 12 noon I will be presenting my show for the first time for the public! I can’t wait! Thanks to Bricoteer Experiment Theatre (James and Grey), and my close friends and family who have really pushed and pulled this story out of me.