Death with Dignity

10:02 AM

Transforming End of Life Experiences.

An Interview With 
Glendon Muir Geikie Sr., End of Life Doula.

As a shaman working between realms, I have been called upon to reach out to the Higher Self of terminal patients who are unable to speak, and bring them messages from their family. I have sat in hospital rooms and accompanied the fearful as they ascended the Path of Souls, they within the spiral, me ascending as far as I was allowed outside the wondrous path. These sacred experiences transformed me.

As you will discover in our interview, Glendon’s work as an end of life doula is equally sacred and transformative —for the dying and their friends and family, and for Glendon.  

As an end of life doula, how do you help terminally ill people and their families prepare for the final phase of this life’s journey?
I try to bring sacredness and humanness to the dying process. Acceptance is also critical for the dying person and their loved ones. This enables the dying person to be in peace and do and say the things they need to say and do. Dying is a part of life and a step on our journey. We need to be able to let go of this leg and move to the next. 

How critical to your work is the dying person’s input?
 It is essential. The focus is on what they want, how they want their environment to be, who they want involved, what if any rituals they want, anything that is meaningful and important to them. Certainly, loved ones can have input if the dying person wants it.  The emphasis is to abide by the dying person’s wishes. 

You have said, “Rituals speak to the soul when the body can no longer be cured.” How do you incorporate rituals in your work?
There can be both pre-death and post-death rituals. They may be simple or more intense. From singing a song together, reading aloud, saying a prayer, being silent, to washing a part of or all of the body after death. What has meaning for the dying person and loved ones is critical. If the ritual does not have meaning to those involved it shouldn’t be done.

Doulas utilize guided visualization, mindfulness, and meditation. Are these practices mainly for the dying person, for their loved ones, or both?
They can be for both and either done individually or as a group. People usually have different places they want to go to in their mind; so one person’s special place is different than another’s. 

Prior to becoming an end of life doula, you were a hospice volunteer. How do you stay positive and well in spirit when surrounded by death and grief? 
I continue my volunteer work with hospice as well as my doula work. I held my newborn grandson and cried. I hold a dying person’s hand and cry. I have long accepted life as it is, and death is part of it. Grief is not something to be afraid of or pushed away. It is essential to life and should be embraced. Running from it or avoiding it deprives you of living life to its fullest.

Welsh author Kristoffer Hughes, a coroner with Her Majesty’s Coroner, has said that current death practices cause separation anxiety because people have no time to grieve before the body is whisked away. Hughes believes we have become unaccustomed to death because we no longer sit with the body. Do you agree with Hughes’s assessment?
I sure do. The body belongs to the family, not the state. We should take whatever time we need or want to be with the body before the body is removed. Death has become a medical process, not a human process, and we need to change that. 

What role do vigils play in preparing family and friends for a loved one’s passing?
The vigil takes place during the final hours of life. It is a ritual within itself.  Having someone with the dying person every hour can bring comfort to loved ones and keeps a connection to the end. It assures that someone will be with the dying person when they take their last breath. The vigil plan is developed long before it is put in place and contains all that the dying person wants when they reach that stage of their journey. 

How has becoming an end of life doula changed you?

I was a psychotherapist in my professional life. Sitting with pain and grief was an everyday event. I think one change has been a better realization on my part of what I have to offer someone on the last leg of his or her journey. I think in general the work has made me a better person.

       Glendon Muir Geikie Sr.

Glendon was trained as a clinical social worker and maintained a private practice in psychotherapy and mediation for over 40 years in Massachusetts focusing on couples, families and trauma survivors.

After retirement six years ago, he and his wife relocated to Palm Springs. Since being here he has volunteered at the Palm Springs Air Museum, the Riverside County Fire Department and has spent many wonderful hours with patients and caretakers at Family Hospice Care.

He has trained with the International End of Life Doula Association As an End of Life Doula he works with individuals, their families and loved ones to transform the end of life experience and bring dignity and sacredness to the dying process.

760-537-7588 or 508-517-5169

Copyright 2019 Ariella Moon

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