Living Fully and Dying Well

“Sunset of the Soul” – Photo by Trista Wynne

One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, has passed through the veil. I am including in this post excerpts from her poems, “The Summers Day” and “When Death Comes”. They capture much of how I feel about life and death. I encourage you to follow the links and to read both poems in their entirety.

In March, I will officially become an End of Life Doula — receiving training through INELDA, the International End of Life Doula Association. This is the culmination of work that began seven years ago, when I graduated from seminary and moved back to my hometown to help my father prepare for his death. For me, providing holistic care means helping people to live fully and to die well. In recent years, I have provided services for grieving families, offering home visitations, songs, prayers and compassionate care for loved ones who are in the process of dying or approaching the veil.

Hospice care is beautiful work of the heart. It has been my honor to walk with many families through this grief and transition time. I will share more with you about my work as an End of Life Doula as the Song of the Dancing Heart Healing Arts continue to grow.

“I can be the Light the Leads you Home”
Photo by Trista Wynne

One day, I dream of having a house at the beach (or near living, flowing water) where people come to receive healing, compassionate care and gentle preparation for their journey through the veil. I want to enable partners, family members and community practitioners to have a respite, and to grieve well, so they can return to living fully. Until that dream is a reality, I will bring my gentle, compassionate care to you here in the Portland area.

There is a deep need in our culture to speak of death, to sit in the darkness and to allow the fullness of emotional expression without labels or fear or shame. There are not many places where we can share in these practices. Song of the Dancing Heart is such a place.

If you, or a loved one, is experiencing grief or preparing to transition through the veil, you may call upon me for a home visit. When I come to you, I can offer Massage, Reiki or Spiritual Care. If you request it, I may bring my guitar and play, or gently sing one of my heart songs for you. I also recognize that there are times when all you may need is someone to quietly sit with you and hold your hand. I can do that, too.

Love and blessings to you, if you are in a time of grief or loss. You are not alone.

Thank you, Mary Oliver, for helping so many of us to work with our deepest and fullest emotions. May we soak in the examples of your poems and live fully so that we can die well…

…When it’s over, I want to say all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument. I don’t want to end up simply having visited

this world.”


~ Mary Oliver, an excerpt from “When Death Comes” ~

…Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”


~ Mary Oliver, an excerpt from “The Summers Day” ~

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