My Mother's Suicide; A Doula's Story
This life we live is untamed.
It heaves and plummets in record time, life and death dripping into each other, staining carpet and shoes as it rolls on relentlessly. It offers heart-warming joy, and inescapable sorrow. Something that ignites that joy in me is birth, and ever since my own childbearing journey, I’ve felt called to witness and walk with new families through this sacred rite of passage, standing at the great doorway to life. Anyone who knows me knows that I have always found birth to be the epitome of transformational experiences.
A week ago I was nearing the end of a six week live-in stay with a new family as their postpartum doula, happily feeding little ones and folding endless cloth diapers when I received the call that my mother died.
Only she didn’t just die.
She locked herself in her shower, laid herself on the cold tile and shot a 9mm bullet through the base of her skull. My brother and father found her moments later.
Every day since has been the most laborious of my twenty-nine years.
I thought birth was big.
Until death kissed me on the lips.
And birth still is big, but right now I am humbled and incapacitated at the immensity of death.
How can I be of service in this tragedy?
My soul has literal whiplash from serving my client-sister in her babymoon, to serving my grieving family within moments of each other. And yet, serving in the wake of loss seems the most natural thing to me.
My doula heart is broken wide open by death’s potent medicine. I don’t see birth through the same filter anymore, and my mind has been stretched tightly over the full scope of life in it’s palpable finiteness. My perspective has been stretched even a little further than that, via the nature of my mother’s choices.
Deaths fingers are weaving new threads into my being, requiring me to remain broken open while it does it’s ineffable work. And those threads are intertwining with the threads of birth already inside me, calling me to expand my work as doula. God has walked me to the other doorway to this Earth, and asked me to serve here.
Every day I climb the mountain of my mother’s death, and every morning I wake up on hands and knees at the bottom of her mountain.
My mother’s suicide was shocking, but it was not unexpected. She had attempted to end her life before. As a mother myself, I have always tried to stand in the gap between her and my children, wanting to change the trajectory of my lineage.
For decades when I thought of her, the words “generational trauma” came to mind. Ironically, now I find myself searching for the generational wisdom she passed on to me, in hopes of transmuting this pain into purpose.
My mother taught me how to doula, by nurturing me. And she modeled the importance of self-love, by showing me what happens in it’s absence. She always told me to leave people, places, and things better than you found them.
Many of us have deep generational wounding. And in our search for healing, many of us have become doulas, midwives, coaches, educators, instructors, counselors, imparting wisdom to others as a means of mending the world. Today, I invite you to reach into your ancestry and uncover the wisdom of your lineage - to breathe your own silver lining into things that may have otherwise left you empty and broken.
Mom, I promise to leave this world better than I found it.
I love you.