Why do we need death midwives?
That so many people do offer themselves as volunteers in palliative care units and hospices in so many countries is terrific. I know that it is they – not the doctors, not the social workers, not the chaplains nor even the nurses – who tend to spend the most time with patients, and so their role is incredibly significant.
On the other hand, I would like to see the whole status of caring for the dying being upgraded – to at least the equivalent of midwives (though, as we all know, nurses are shamefully underpaid and undervalued). See my Articles on Dying especially Way to Go and Home Deathing.
Dying is as significant an event as birthing. Those wishing to offer truly meaningful support to the dying should be trained accordingly – in listening, in being-there-with, and, when appropriate in counselling (the dying person as much as their family and close friends), as well as being able to guide them through their final moments.
And, BTW: There is a fantastic article,’ Mindfulness in Hospice Work , ‘ by Anne Bruce and Betty Davies. The online version of this article can be found here. It looks at the impact on the staff of their being meditators, in this instance, zen practitioners.