ALBERTA, CANADA: The Meaning of Life & Death

ALBERTA, CANADA: The Meaning of Life & Death

b11We 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.

Salma (Canada)

An Imperfect Stepford Wife is what Salma describes herself as because she simply cannot get it right. She loves decorating, travelling, parenting,learning, writing, reading and cooking, She also delights in all things mischievous, simply because it drives her hubby crazy. Salma has 2 daughters and a baby boy. The death of her first son in 2009 was very difficult, however, after the birth of her Rainbow baby in 2010 (one day after her birthday) she has made a commitment to laugh more and channel the innocence of youth through her children. She has blogged about her loss, her pregnancy with Rainbow, and Islamic life. After relocating to Alberta with her husband in 2011 she has found new challenges and rewards- like buying their first house, and finding a rewarding career. Her roots are tied to Jamaica, while her hubby is from Yemen. Their routes, however, have led them to Egypt and Canada, which is most interesting because their lives are filled with cultural and language barriers. Even though she earned a degree in Criminology, Salma's true passion is Social Work. She truly appreciates the beauty of the human race. She writes critical essays on topics such as feminism and the law, cultural relativity and the role of women in Islam and "the veil". Salma works full-time, however, she believes that unless the imagination of a child is nourished, it will go to waste. She follows the philosophy of un-schooling and always finds time to teach and explore with her children. From this stance, she pushes her children to be passionate about every aspect of life, and to strive to be life-long learners and teachers. You can read about her at Chasing Rainbow.

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$5 Saves Lives with, Multicultural Kids Blogs & Girls Globe!

$5 Saves Lives with, Multicultural Kids Blogs & Girls Globe!

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.

#CleanBirth Twitter Party!

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, 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 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!

US Embassy Vientiane &

This year we are back and excited as ever, to lend 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 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:

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.

Cleanbirth Donation Button


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 and Dee Harlow.

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post,, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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RHODE ISLAND, USA: The Moment Of My Mortality

RHODE ISLAND, USA: The Moment Of My Mortality

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…)

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog,, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid,, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on, Johnson & Johnson’s,,, and Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

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