Birth and Death. And the Miracles In Between.

It been one year today since my Oma passed.
It’s amazing how much I have felt the absence of her presence.

So many times I have tried out a new recipe this year and wanted to share it with her.
So many times I have wanted to share a celebration with her.
So many times I have just wanted to her the sheer excitement in her voice because she is talking with me.
So many times I have wanted to feel her Love.

I miss her so much. And I know parts of her essence live within.

Thinking of her so much today and how much I love her.

I first published this blog about a week after she passed and it was my most read and commented blog.  I received so many emails from women about their own grandmothers and the love present between grandmother and granddaughter.

If you are going through a loss or are grieving, I am reposting this for you.

My beloved grandmother, my Oma, passed away on June 1st, 2013.  I was blessed to be with her for the last day and a half of her life.  To lie in bed next to her, whisper in her ears, hold her hands (oh, I love her hands!)… these last moments are so precious to me.

There is so much to say about my Oma.  She taught me the joy of growing my own veggies and flowers.  She gifted me with a love for Nature and her beauty.  She taught me the art of flirtation – she knew how to bat her gorgeous blue eyes.  As a Holocaust survivor, she taught me that life is to be lived to its fullest and that every moment is one to be delighted.  She taught me to follow my dreams and work hard.  She showed me an epic love affair with my Opa.

This is her legacy that she passed to me and that I will pass to my children and grandchildren.  Her blood runs in my veins… we are of the same lineage.

Death.  It is so surreal, right?  One moment I am speaking to her on the phone while she is wishing me a happy birthday, and within a flash, I am watching her take her last breath.

As a Birth Doula and Midwife Assistant for 7 years, I supported more than 150 women as they crossed into motherhood.   I always assumed that death was similar to birth but had never witnessed someone as they walked through this threshold.  The first breath, the last breath, the beginning and the end…. the cycle of life.

So, here are the similarities:

There is a lot of waiting in death.  My grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer one week before she died.  The Dr’s said she would live another 4 months and in one week, her body shut down.  Hospice was called to her home.  My mom hired aides to be there in the morning and night.  We talked to her.  She opened her eyes every now and then.  She slept.  And we waited for the inevitable with no way to prepare for the immeasurable loss.

There is a lot of waiting in labor and birth.  Waiting to go into labor!!  You never know when that is going to happen.   Waiting once labor begins for the contractions to increase and strengthen.  And then, women always asking, “Do you know how much longer this will be?”  Waiting for the moment when a baby is born and a woman’s heart bursts open with love.

Holding Sacred Space:

My Oma was completely cared for.  She was bathed in her bed.  My mom made homemade applesauce for her.  My uncle gave her drops of wine.  Her clothes were changed to housedresses she loved.  We whispered love notes in her ears.  We stroked her arms and held her hands.  Nothing existed besides her.

We held space so that her body & Soul were filled with Love.

A woman in labor, with the best support, is completely loved up.  She is taken care of so that she can focus on following her body and natural rhythms.  She is massaged, sung to, whispered words of power and praise.  All so that her body & Soul can move through the portal into motherhood full of strength, courage, and beauty.
Life Goes On:
For 1 ½ days, I sat with my Oma.  Nothing else existed.  There was nothing as important as each moment.   I didn’t use my phone or check my emails.  In fact, this place of complete presence was so natural and beautiful.

The night before she passed, my mom and I took a walk and life was happening all around her apartment building.  I felt like I was coming into the world after a long slumber… like I had forgotten what the outside world was like….and that it even existed.  Little girls were playing on their bikes, people were grocery shopping, airplanes were flying in the air, a deer graced us with her existence.  Life goes on while you are cocooned and witnessing someone in their last moments on this Earth.

Every time I would leave a birth, I would walk outside to my car and be amazed that while I had just witnessed a miracle, people were busy living their lives.  While a woman became a mother, people were waking up to their alarm clocks, eating breakfast, going to work, and living their normal life.  How can that be when I just saw a being born and take her first breath?  Life keeps moving no matter what.

Why am I sharing all of this?  Birth and Death.  The cycle of life.

1.  As a woman, you are attuned to cycles.  You cycle every month (and even if you no longer have a cycle, you are still tuned to the rhythms of the Moon).   You understand that there are life cycles moving in rhythm throughout your life.  And everything in between of your first breath and your last is a miracle.

2.  You have the opportunity to leave a legacy.  At some point, you are going to leave this planet.  Death is the only given we have in this life.  So, what do you want to be remembered for?  What imprint do you want to leave in this short time you have here?  Please take a moment to think about this.  And begin to take actions towards this.

3.  Life is precious.  Death reminds us that there are no guarantees in life.  Stop tolerating anything in your life.  Don’t wait for things to be perfect because they never will be.  Be courageous and take a leap.  This is your life…. make every moment and every choice one that moves you in the directions of more pleasure, happiness, joy, health, and abundance.


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Birth and Death. And the Miracles In Between. — 1 Comment

  1. Hi joanne! I lost my mum 2.5 years ago ….. Know how hard it is accepting the cycle of life…. Seeing love ones go…and missing them , every minute, and everything brings a memory… And the conversation to ourselves that we need to keep going and be strong without them, i don’t think life gives enough time for grieving…and mourning for ever … They spirit gives strength!!!all my love ! Edna x