Questionnaire with Leah - Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month

"Grief and death, like birth, is not linear so you can never control it. Practicing techniques to surrender and letting go into the pain."

-Leah Patara

1. What is the role of a Death Doula?

While I'm not professionally trained as a death doula, I have found myself supporting families this year through their journey of death, which has been very similar in supporting families during birth. I assist with meal trains, cleansing, death plan, private ceremony, creating rituals to support your grief. I also educate and enlighten you on the stages of grief, the values and ethics in your family, and reinforce meditation. Whilst creating a positive space, eliminating feelings of anxiety at the end of life.

2. Do you have any words you would like to share with anyone experiencing loss?

Grief is something that I am familiar with after experiencing 2 miscarriages in 2019.

I was able to keep the fetus and I went to my garden and completed a burial ceremony, with my Maori Karakia (prayer) asking for spiritual guidance and protection. Touching the soil in my hands, and letting go of my baby gave my a sense of completion, and helped with my despair, sadness and loss of my baby and the dreams I had. If you have a D&C in the hospital you are allowed to take home the remains of your fetus, you will need to complete a form of consent. I wish every woman knew this information, to help her in the healing process. Grief and death, like birth is not linear so you can never control it. Practicing techniques to surrender and letting go into the pain. Grief hits you from behind, you can't see it coming.

3. Are there tools or techniques that you recommend to those experiencing loss?

Meditation was my saviour ... staying in the present moment as death/birth are ceremonies in the unknown.

4. Do you have any advice for friends or family of those who have suffered loss and how they may be able to help hold space for their loved ones?
  • Checking in and asking 'how can I support you?'
  • Meal train /cleaning / babysitting are all welcome when you can barely get out of bed in the sadness
  • As you can see its very similar to postpartum of birth, but applying the same principles to death can be extremely healing to the families
  • Perhaps a sleepover so they are not alone

5. The past week has been filled with heaviness with what is going on in the world, are there any words that you would like to share to hold others who may be feeling a big range of emotions?

It is always important when I'm working that I do not absorb my surroundings, I am there to hold space and love unconditionally. When driving home from a birth/death, it is the time I have a big cry in private, away from the families. Cleansing my mind, body and spirit through meditation, swimming in the sea, I am always so hungry afterwards.

Author – Leah Patara

Founder of The Womb Room Collective, Birth Educator, Meditation Teacher, Postpartum Doula




See Instagram post here.

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