After recent discussions around burials and cremation, funeral directors and woodland burial sites I began to feel the considerations were not dissimilar to that of the choices and options made around birth. Today I watched short films about both woodland burial and funeral services at crematorium and I couldn’t help but consider the comparison to home birth and hospital birth.
Then while reading about the community group in Todmorden, Pushing up Daises, I came across a wonderful film where observations were made about the history of death in our culture and again this reminded me of the historical changes to how we birth. Currently 98% of women give birth in hospital. Hermione Elliot who is a death Doula suggests that in our culture, since the 1970’s, if not earlier, we have handed death over to health professionals and funeral directors and as a result we are not equipped emotionally, and practically, to know what to do when someone is dying and death occurs.
Whether it’s for birth or death what underpins our decisions is choice. Unbiased and evidence based therefore informed choice. As midwives we encourage couples to use the mnemonic BRAIN when making decisions in regard to birthing choices and care:
consider the Benefits,
consider the Risks,
what are the Alternatives,
what is your Instinct
if you can’t decide right now and you are safe then do Nothing for the moment
Of course not everyone will have complete choice due to a variety of reasons but in birth, and death, knowing you have some choices can be empowering. We want to give birth where we feel safe and I think this can be the same with dying and death. For some of us that will be at home, for some in a hospice or hospital.
As Hermoine points out data shows over 70% of people say they’d like to die at home but less than 20% actually do. What is it that makes this unattainable for many people? Off to see Rehana Rose’s Dead Good Film on Tuesday at the Glasgow Film Festival for more insights.