D is for Death: Stepping into my role as an End of Life Educator

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In my role as an End of Life Specialist there are two things that fill my soul: serving as an EOL Doula and being an EOL educator. The first I planned on, the second is contrary to everything I thought I knew about myself.

One thing had always been clear to me- I did not want to be a teacher. Yet since I’ve begun my journey into end of life people I have found myself in situations where people have come to me to learn. To learn how to come into relationship with their mortality, to learn how to provide a home funeral, to learn how to be an EOL doula, to learn about green burial…

And I love it.

So I made it my goal this year to step up as an End of Life Educator. What follows is a list of all the projects I’ve taken on so far.

I’m working with the Montpelier Senior Activity Center which is doing a year-long series on End of Life Issues. I kicked off  2018 there with a screening of Being Mortal and a discussion of how to learn about our own values for dying well and what makes communicating about death and dying so hard.
On March 13th I’ll give a workshop there on how to be an effective Health Care Agent and later this spring I’ll give another on how End of Life Doulas can improve End of Life.
I’m also teaching a 10-week course there called “Dying in Community” with the goal that participants to move towards feeling more comfortable and confident not only talking about death, but taking action to create good death plans for themselves, and to step forward as caregivers in community.

This course at MSAC is one I hope to use as template for two college course proposals I hope to develop and submit… more on those to come!

Last year I had the honor of being asked to develop a module for the UVM Online End of Life Doula Certificate Program.  And I’ve just wrapped up two more modules for the course as it enters its second cycle and will be recording a Q&A later this month. It is such a privilege to be able to contribute to this dynamic and developing program.

I came into my own teaching when I decided to tour the state and educate people about the burial depth bill that would finally make green burial fully viable in Vermont. Now that there is a non-profit, Green Burial Vermont, founded together with people who were a part of that tour with me, we are working to design green burial workshops for communities and cemeterians in order to promote the development of green burial spaces that are both “best for the land and best for the people.” Vermont may be far from the first state to have green burial spaces, but we hope to soon be among the best states offering green burial.

I also have my own Ending Well Training program. After studying with some of the greatest teachers in End of Life I have designed a unique course that is self-directed yet hands-on: students learn at their own pace through reading, writing, and hands-on activities and are supported with one-on-one meetings with me throughout. I haven’t written much about it yet, but it is extremely rewarding- email me if you want to learn more!

Finally, I have two secret projects with two different doulas that I can’t wait to share more about.

I truly believe that to have our own good deaths we need to normalize talking about death. As I wrote about in my last blog post, often we end up “preaching to the choir” in those conversations. It is my hope that through offering a variety of educational opportunities in a variety of settings I’ll be able to reach people who not otherwise be willing to engage in talking about death and dying.


One thought on “D is for Death: Stepping into my role as an End of Life Educator

  1. Looks like Michelle Acciavatti is involved in the UVM course as well as much more….Are you fami,at with her? She’s from Montpeiler area

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy Tablet


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