We read about it as young children in folklore and fairy-tales. If we grew up in religious homes, we were taught about various aspects of it, without a full understanding of what it all meant. While I have a different outlook at this stage in my life, I try to shield my children from the pain of it. We can all agree that death (or the idea of dying) is scary.
In January 2010 I became a Peer Infant Loss Support Worker; two months later I was pregnant with my first Rainbow baby. Last year I applied to volunteer at a palliative care facility. Having dealt with loss, being younger than most of the volunteers, and since I was going through the process of grieving my infant son who passed away in 2009, the coordinator was sure that I was just what the program needed. Interestingly, I became pregnant soon after. Call me superstitious, however, at this point, I came to one conclusion – I’d had enough with death – I needed a break. I quickly resigned.
While my resignation was totally unreasonable and my actions irrational, I never looked back until I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. After the death of my father in 1993 I began thinking about death; but it wasn’t until the death of my infant son that I began searching, speaking and learning about the practices, rituals and beliefs surrounding life and death. For instance, before my son’s death, I knew nothing about Islamic burial practices. My husband, who had been to a couple of funerals also had no idea what to do. Our lack of knowledge, coupled with grief made it extremely difficult to process the practice of what was being done and why.
It was not until after the death and burial, that I truly began to understand the Islamic view on death and dying. Muslims believe that human existence continues after death in the after-life, and that we are judged on our actions from this life. We are taught to prepare for the after-life by doing good deeds in this life. Upon death, the corpse is washed by family members, shrouded in a white cloth, buried on its right side, with the head facing Mecca.
After our experience I began to ask questions about death and dying. While I am by no means an authority on these practices, I have connected with many women who have shared their experiences. In our dialogue, I have learned about Tibetan Buddhist rites of passage and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, various Christian ideas like Catholicism’s idea of purgatory and resurrection. I also learned about practices, like Balinese Hinduism death towers and the Jewish ritual of Shiva.
Death is frightening. Words like eternal life and afterlife can be comforting and scary simultaneously, especially for those of us who connect these words with thoughts of retribution and judgement. A few years ago, a Social Worker noted: “…parents aren’t supposed to bury their children.” I’ve heard this before, but I don’t really believe or subscribe to this thought. I learned that life is a journey, and we are all here for different reasons. Sometimes our road takes us farther than others.
So has my experience with burying a loved one made it easier for me to swallow the concept of my mortality? Has my cross-cultural knowledge made it easier to speak about it? Not really. Without a doubt, death is central to our existence. I am not blind to the reality of it, especially when it seems imminent (watching a friend or family living with serious diseases), but I don’t want to deal with it unless I have to.
What practices/beliefs about death and after-life do you hold?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Salma. You can find Salma blogging at Party of Five in Calgary.
Photo credit to the author.
Over a year ago, World Mom, Nicole Melancon of Thirdeyemom, introduced me to Kristyn Zalota, an American mom who was dedicating her time to help save the lives of mothers in Laos. I’m embarassed to admit, I wasn’t exactly sure where Laos was. (It’s next to Vietnam.) I also didn’t know that the country has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality on the globe.
Kristyn has introduced our staff and community to both, the mothers who she has met in Laos and the nurse midwives who she has trained through the organization she founded, Cleanbirth.org. Last year, World Moms Blog helped her raise over $700 to provide clean birth kits to the moms who needed them most. It was such a fun, fantastic global moment for our contributors. We changed our Facebook profile pictures to the Cleanbirth logo, and we Facebooked and tweeted our hearts out! But that’s not all…
Since that time, World Moms Blog was the conduit that brought Kristyn Zalota and Dee Harlow, our contributor in Laos, together. Dee started volunteering for Cleanbirth.org and helped the organization secure a $2000 loan, and she also wrote about maternal health in Laos during our #Moms4MDGs campaign on the Every Mother Counts website. In fact, here is a photo of Dee and Kristyn in Laos advocating for maternal health with the US Ambassador to Vientiane!
This year we are back and excited as ever, to lend Cleanbirth.org our hearts and our social media voices to help kick off their 1st month of fundraising in 2014! But, we also have fantastic news — we are not alone!
Two equally awesome organizations — Multicultural Kid Blogs and Girls Globe — will be joining us! Together, our three sites will be synergizing our social media power together and rallying our communities and readers to help Cleanbirth.org in their campaign to raise $7500 this February, which is earmarked for the much-needed training of 10 nurses, 25 volunteers and 500 birth kits.
Inspired by World Mom, Kristyn Zalota’s, enthusiasm to do more than her fair share to help our fellow moms on the planet, World Moms Blog is happy to join Multicultural Kid Blogs, Girls Globe and all of our combined contributors participating in making some noise for safe births for the mothers in Laos.
How can you join in? Share this post. Donate. Join the Twitter Party on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 1pm EST! Hashtag is #Cleanbirth.
Just $5 USD goes a long way — it buys a birth kit which includes sanitized necessities and the cost of travel for the nurse midwife to attend a birth. Kristyn has launched something amazing that saves lives and empowers women.
- For just $5 you can provide a life saving Clean Birth Kit
- For $100 you can train a Village Volunteer who serves her village
- For $250 you can sponsor a nurse who serves as many as 10 villages
See more at: http://startsomegood.com/cleanbirth#sthash.gp7YuaeW.dpuf
If everyone who reads this post just donated $5, we could make a very large difference in the life of our fellow World Moms in Laos. For almost the equivalent of a cup of fancy coffee, we can have a feel good, mother earth kind of day together.
I hope you will join us and help us spread the word!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Founder, Jennifer Burden in New Jersey, USA.
Photo credits to Cleanbirth.org and Dee Harlow.
Once upon a time I may have been an adventuress, but that was a very long time ago.
- The Okavango Delta
It was a time when I was young, carefree,and as far as I ever thought of it, immortal. As a mother now, the stakes are extremely high. My teenage desire for risk taking has been satiated, and now comes the payback. I have to guide my own children through that sense of indestructibility. Although they are still a ways off….we are creeping closer. My husband and I call the teenage and young adult years The Gauntlet. We realize all parents need to get through the gauntlet, to reach the holy grail of happy, healthy adult children. I remember the moment that switch flipped for me as a young adult, and hope that realization comes to my own children in a much less dramatic way. (more…)