Wendy Halford is a very interesting and lovely person, I was delighted to meet her and invited her to join me in our studio at BereavementUK .Wendy has also very kindly written the following article for us.
If you would like to share your thoughts or experience on this interesting subject we’d love to hear from you contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am so delighted to have met Alex James, founder of Bereavement UK, and been given the opportunity to speak about Soul Midwifery on one of her podcasts. Even talking about death can be a big taboo in our culture, but the more we familiarise ourselves with it, the more planning we can put in, and decisions we can take, helping us to have a “good” death – something all Soul Midwives would like to see for everyone.
While the words “Soul Midwife” are becoming well known in palliative care, there are still plenty of people who don’t know what we are, or think that they are somehow excluded from it. It is well nigh impossible to explain the entire concept of Soul Midwifery in a few minutes, but with Alex’s careful questioning, I hope we have, between us, given you a little insight into the work we do.
Here is a short précis about our work.
In a nutshell, we are non-denominational companions to the dying, people we refer to as ‘friends.’ The focus is on listening and developing a relationship between the ‘friend’ and Soul Midwife, where reassurance and gentle, traditional skills can be used to help people achieve the death they want. There is no “one size fits all” as every Soul Midwife/’friend’ experience will be different, depending on the people and circumstances involved. We want people to feel supported, reassured, cared for, not alone (unless they want to be.) We listen to their fears, their stories, their wishes – about everything from how they’d like any pain managed, to who they’d rather have/not have visit them, from what music they’d like to listen to, to which recipe they’d like to write out for their children, from funeral planning to who’s going to look after the dog, from funny stories that make them rock with laughter to regrets or sorrows they just want to express – nothing is ‘off limits.’ Being able to talk openly is deeply important at the end of life, and Soul Midwives are trained to listen. We use techniques such as gentle touch, breathing exercises and visualisation to help alleviate anxiety throughout the different stages of the dying process. We like to create a loving space, a personalised environment, which represents the dying person – it helps them to feel individual, comfortable and cared for, surrounded by familiar items, and also helps the people looking after them to get a better sense of the person they were before they were ill or old. As death approaches, we sit in vigil, accompanying them through the final stages, continuing to use methods we may have worked out previously together. We can also help someone we have never met, if we’re called in at a late stage. We work with great respect and honour towards the dying person, and we do not shy away from staying, even in difficult circumstances. We aim to support families and loved ones if that’s possible and appropriate. Many Soul Midwives are trained in complementary therapies, such as aromatherapy, reiki, massage, reflexology and so on, and combine these with their Soul Midwife work. Others are already working in fields such as palliative care, the chaplaincy or counselling.
All my knowledge about being a Soul Midwife has come about from training with Felicity Warner at the Soul Midwives’ School, and it’s important to state here that Felicity has given her approval for this interview. I have held the intention to represent the Soul Midwife Movement with great integrity, but understand that this is just a tiny snapshot into a huge arena.
If you would like to find out any more about Soul Midwifery, or to be put in contact with one yourself, please go to the website www.soulmidwives.com, where information about the work, the training courses and how to find a Soul Midwife can be found. It’s important to note that, regrettably, a few people are calling themselves Soul Midwives without taking the training, therefore the safest way of finding a genuine, trained Soul Midwife is through the website. If you do find one elsewhere, or are approached by someone calling themselves a Soul Midwife, please take a moment to contact the school (you can email email@example.com) and ask to have confirmation that he or she has trained with Felicity Warner’s Soul Midwives’ School.
The books I mention are A Safe Journey Home and The Soul Midwives’ Handbook, both by Felicity Warner, published by Hay House.