Felicity Warner: "Death is so medicalized. It makes people fearful "| Society

25-06-2019 13:06

Felicity Warner wants everyone to die well. She is the woman behind the midwives of the soul: non-medical companions who provide individual and spiritual care to people dying. The term "midwife" is not a coincidence. It refers to the similarities between our first breath and our last breath. Just as there are certain steps for a woman in labor before giving birth, so are some end-of-life stages before a woman's eventual death, Warner says. It's the same idea as the doulas at the end of life. "A midwife soul will recognize these stages and work with them as a midwife would do at birth."

Soul midwives encourage a dying person to express his wishes for the last days of a death plan. They listen, watch, allow people to talk openly about their impending death and fears, and provide therapeutic support to help relieve anxiety and pain. This can be done by breathing techniques, massage, sound therapy and music and by essential oils. As the "soul" suggests in the title, the role also offers a spiritual dimension related to healing and detachment. But it is not enough to help people die without fear, loneliness or anxiety. It's also about making people aware of their value, says Warner. "I am very excited about this because many of the people we work with have no one in their lives. To make them feel special is a very important part of our role and to pay tribute to them as they have been, because we can make you feel very anonymous when you die, whether you are old or young. "

Warner, the daughter of former Conservative MP David Mudd, evokes the "heartbreaking deaths" of her grandmother – with whom she lived after her parents' divorce at the age of six, who died A lung cancer at the age of 14 – and his stepfather, two years later. later, it forced very early "to treat a lot" of treatments and reflections and to become a health journalist.

In the 1990s, Warner wrote several articles on women dying from breast cancer. Interviewees revealed their loneliness and isolation as well as the feeling of being locked in an elephant-containing room. "The most important thing was the feeling that they could not honestly tell anyone that they knew they were going to die, because everyone was saying," We will help you overcome that; you will not die.

They talked and Warner listened. "I think there was a cure in that they could just talk frankly about what they actually felt for someone who was not judgmental." massaging after one of the women told him that "no one is touching me" because of his cancer. When the last of the six women she interviewed died, her decision to help the dying full time was realized.

She started volunteering at her local hospice, where she noticed "big gaps" in the delivery of care: the "one size fits all" approach, for example, who saw everyone "wrapped up" of "hook blankets" and "handed plastic cups to suck off", regardless of their age or personal needs.

"I was sitting there, thinking that it would be very helpful for someone to be able to join the points in what I saw with people dying." There could be a trade-off between the clinical care given and the kind of caring care that goes so far when one feels really sick, because it seemed to be very lacking or offered very willingly and not always to everyone . "

Warner began testing on the road what would become her approach to "soft death" – the basis of the midwifery of the soul. "We realized how little can make such a difference for people at the end of life. Even sitting and holding their hand is a huge gesture for someone who does not have anyone sitting with them, and having the time to do it is a great thing. "

Warner exposed her philosophy in a book in 2003, and then began training in Dorset, where she lives. So far, more than 1,000 people have paid to attend classes, including nurses Macmillan and Marie Curie, doctors, chaplains, social workers and psychotherapists working for the NHS, as well as people from around the world. South Africa, Canada, United States and Australia. About 40% of trainees started to practice.

Warner offers a referral service on the Soul Midwives website. Many practitioners offer discounts, opt for a donation or charge nothing at all. "No one would ever be refused if he could not pay," says Warner. "It is not money. No one would be excluded for financial reasons. "

Soul midwives are now found in retirement homes, hospices, hospitals and at home throughout the UK. They liaise with general practitioners and district nurses if a person wants to die at home. Warner acknowledges that it took time to build trust with other health professionals, but adds, "This confidence has grown as the value of our work is understood and perceived."

For her, the soul-wise profession is a movement that can bridge the gap when brought together through closer community networks, and she sees death as a process rather than an event – something she believes has been lost over generations. Recently, Warner introduced the concept of midwifery "residence" to relieve end-of-life discussions from the confines of hospitals and hospices. "We need to bring the care of the dying back into the community. He has been so medicalized and out of the normal environment of most people, which makes him very fearful. [for people]. "

She cites the recent example of a midwife, a midwife who was standing up in a library for a morning so that people could come and discuss various aspects of death. She now hopes to persuade a coffee chain to host residences.

What is clear is that ensuring a peaceful and gentle death to others is also beneficial to Warner's soul. She says, "I think that's the reason for my presence here."

Curriculum vitae

Age: 60.

Family: Married, two girls.

lives: Chideock, Dorset.

Education: Falmouth high school for girls; educated at home (1973-1976), Copenhagen; University of Bristol, basic course in consulting skills.

Career: Since 2003: Founder, Trainer and Speaker, Soul Midwives; 2013-present: University Researcher, University of Winchester; 1978-2004: freelance journalist specializing in the fields of health and medicine; 1977-1979: Trainee reporter at Falmouth Packet Newspaper.

Public life: member of the national coalition Dying Matters. 2017 End-of-Life Care Champion of the Year – awarded by the National Council of Palliative Care; The year – end doula of the year – The good funeral guide, 2017.

Interests: Read, swim in nature, walk on Dartmoor, study mythology and folklore, cook and listen to music.