Perhaps you have been following along with this blog as someone interested in completing the Indigenous Death Doula training program. Maybe you have attended one of the public speaking events or virtual workshops offered where I was invited to talk about Indigenous death, dying, loss and grief.
This work is an area where I have cast my heart, countless hours spent curating an offering to Indigenous caregivers that I had promised way back in 2020.
Foolishly, I thought I could drive deadlines and tasks to completion like I do with everything else. This training is more than a program, it is an offering of care to Indigenous people everywhere.
I thought obtaining funding would mean we could bring this training into reality and while this truly did make a difference, it was only one aspect of creating this community experience.
Now, with the training close to launching, I am moved by all the teachings I have added to my bundle. What an experience this has been.
I found myself mourning while working on the training's content. This past year, my uncle and aunts departed from this world.
Some of these relatives felt more connected to me than others. This too was cause for reflection as I answered queries about education for the dying and coping with grief.
I worry about missing out on moments of connection with the generation before me. Do they know how grateful I feel for the unconditional love they gave me?
With all of these deep pensive moments, I was surprised to find myself pregnant. A welcomed surprise, my husband and I were ecstatic to learn we were expecting and before long we had vitamins ready, names picked out and a doctor's appointment scheduled. In our excitement, we shared our news wide and far. We told our families, our workmates, our favorite taco restaurant staff.
Our joy was short-lived and I will never forget the moment I understood that a miscarriage had taken place. My doctor was, and always is, amazing. I wish everyone could have a doctor like I her.
She expressed her condolences and bolstered our broken hearts by sharing statistics (we are research-loving, data people) and encouragement to begin trying to conceive. Getting pregnant at all was a confirmation of our fertility.
Armed with a positive outlook, I tried my best to carry on. Helpers reached out with their messages and teachings from ancestors, enveloping me and my family in love. Despite the teachings I carry in my bundle about reproductive health, mental wellness and healing, none of this insight seemed to relieve me of my grief. Here I was working away at creating tools to support others coping with loss, simultaneously struggling to find solid ground in the wake of losing our baby, of losing my uncle, and then my aunts, and the vibrance they brought to our family. I felt the weight of multiple losses, compounding on my shoulders and in my heart.
What truly helped disperse the clouds and helped me cope was the many lovely friends and family who took a moment to share stories of their own pregnancy losses. What a terrible club to belong to, yet I am so grateful to each and every person who took a moment to disclose their membership and mirror what we were going through.
All at once, I understood the journey that creating this training had become. By connecting and supporting each other, there is always care and love to get through the darkest times.
Even though this training has taken far longer to launch than anticipated, I am excited to invite the previous Indigenous mentees to form the first cohort in time for Summer Solstice. A humble offering from my laptop to yours, with the help of many, many incredible knowledge carriers will arrive just when it's meant to.
chii miigwetch for reading, sharing and commenting.
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My pen name is Chrystal Waban and I am a member of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation.