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The divide is imaginary.

Blogging is an interesting practice. We do it to boost our websites, and SEO, to communicate with our readers and clients and friends. Sometimes I think, for many people it becomes mundane. A thousand words in a hundred posts that are generated based on easily digestible content and layouts. Fillers. Inconsequential.

I have always gone against the grain, growing up an undiagnosed autistic girl, brought me face to face with every "why" "how" and imposter authority figure there was. I am literally hard-wired to question things, to misunderstand social cues, to be categorized as defiant, different, and difficult. So believe me when I say that for me, blogging isn't a mundane standard practice. It is not something I do because someone told me so. For me, blogging is inherent to who I am. The moment I learned to use a computer, the first thing I aimed to do in school was to create a blog. I have kept one in every phase of my life, far more often then I was able to keep any sort of diary (both because of privacy issues in my house, and the hope that came with sharing my online presence with people I had never met) Another fun part of my autism, is that I am hyper verbal. The opposite of many autism stereotypes. Words call to me in the ways your stereotypical autistic person is called by numbers or patterns.

I have kept so many different kinds of blogs. Essentially, they all came down to one thing. Telling my stories. My truths. My experiences, passions, and wisdoms. My creations, and my grief. It started out as an outlet, and became a necessary part of who I am. The blogs that really stuck around long term, were ones that came after I realized I was allowed to use my voice. That I HAD a voice, and something worthwhile to say. I learned the power of words, and the power of story.

I have always seen things through story, through written words and spellings. I see letters and phrase sentences faster than pictures in my mind. My thoughts are dialect on a page.

I say all this, because like it has been with words, it has been with emotions. I have found that I experience life in a different way then most people. I feel things with a greater intensity, and am able to sit closer to pain, to grief, to death.

Something that has shocked me in the birth community, is the amount of intentional ignorance and avoidance when it comes to the topic of death. The amount of birth professionals that are uncomfortable with death (to the point of pretending it doesn't exist, or making sure they don't have to face it) is astounding to me. From seasoned doctors, midwives, and nurses, to my own colleagues in birth photography and doula work; this internal seed is at it's best- dangerous in its attempt at self preservation, and at its worst- terribly shallow.

This group of people- I will reference as "them" though it is not a collective, it is very individual and very personal and very real in its humanity.

I have been in so many situations where death was a big topic, where they were not able or willing to bear it. I have seen them clam up and offer no solace. I have seen them portray outright cruelty. I have been abandoned myself, and seen others abandoned at their most vulnerable, to suffer through an ordeal in isolation because of professionals who lack a will, a plan, and an understanding. Who lack the capability to honor, see, and deal with death.

This is both shocking, and heart wrenching for me. As both someone who was so terribly impacted by such people, and as someone who has had to step in for them when others were grieving.

I count myself an open minded and fluid person, and I hesitate to form solid opinions about anyone. I try not to place my expectations and judgments on others. So I don't sit here at my keyboard and misunderstand how deeply difficult it is to work with death. To talk about death. I know how understandable it is to be avoidant or willfully ignorant in these grey areas. With that being said, birth work, is a field in which death is literally inescapable. It is absolutly vital, that any birth worker be well educated, prepared, and readily willing to face death. To talk about death. To be adjacent to death. We work in a field in which life- transitions from one plane to the next. Life and death, are so intricately woven, you can not experience one and not the other. The divide between life and death- is imaginary. They are one. One existence each in its own shifting and ever changing form. There is so much taboo in our culture, but like blood and periods, meconium and placentas- in birth work, you have to be willing to cross over those lines and touch the socially ugly and difficult places. You have to be willing to take what doesn't inherintly feel beautiful, and find a way to honor it. Hold space for it. Just as it would be irresponsible to walk into a forest on a days hike without the right gear; to work in this field (as any sort of birth worker) without the capability (for any reason) to handle situations that involve death- is putting everyone at a greater risk for trauma.

You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to say or do the perfect 'right' things. You just have to be willing to show up. To be present. To face what the majority of our society runs from. If you can show up and be present for the roars of a mother, the tears of a father, and the mess of birth- you can prepare and show up for the loss of life as well. It doesn't have to be your mission. It doesn't have to be your purpose or calling. It just has to be within your capabilities, for when you will (inevitably) face it with a client, child, or pregnancy.

I wasn't planning on speaking so in depth on this topic, and meant to write a short preface to the story I wanted to tell today, but the words took on their own form and perhaps, they are meant to be the focal point of this specific posting. Perhaps someone will read this who needs to hear it. You can show up. You can serve your clients through loss- of any kind, and I know that because you already show up in such amazing ways for their moments of joy.

If you are not willing, or not capable, I urge you to rethink your field of choice before, and not after you are faced with death.

I have so many words and beautiful stories to share within the quotations of this quiet topic, but for now I will leave you with this.

Someone facing loss, or grieving a child, can not be hurt by you whispering the child's name. They will not hate you for offering a hand or a hug or saying something softly. The most difficult part of loss for me, was the isolation. The silence. I grieved everyone who said they were thinking of me, but never embraced me or saw my tears. I grieved the amount of times I would never hear the name I had so carefully chosen for my child.

There are things to say and not say. There is education, resources, and so many stories that can help you bring the best space with you to these moments. But worse then showing up awkwardly, is not showing up at all- assuming someone else will show up in your stead. The fact is, everyone is collectively waiting for someone else to show up, and very few ever do. Do not be afraid to to remind them. They already know.

You can not "bring it up"- it is already there, right behind our eyelids, right on the tip of our tongues. It is an invisible weight that we cradle to our chests and carry on our backs with intention and all of the love we were not able to give in person.

-Wildwood Birthkeeper


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