Linda Jane McCurrach is an end-of-life doula – a non-medical, holistic companion who guides and helps people to have a gentle and tranquil death.
By Maria Croce
Midwives are associated with helping to bring new life into the world. But there’s another type who are there at the end, when people are dying.
Linda Jane McCurrach is a “soul midwife” or end-of-life doula – a non-medical, holistic companion who guides and supports the dying to help them have a gentle and tranquil death.
She describes the people she supports as friends and says it’s about helping them have a “good” death. But she admits some people initially find it difficult to grasp the idea that there can be a positive side to something so finite.
Linda Jane added: “People don’t even want to think about having a good death because they can’t imagine dying.
“But in eastern culture, they believe that only by looking at our death can we live fully.”
She sees some parallels between conventional midwives who bring new life into the world and her role for the souls who are leaving.
She said: “I couldn’t imagine my mum not having someone there. I thought, ‘What would it be like for someone to be on their own?’ It really struck home that I can help people going through this alone.”
Linda Jane has now launched a charity called No One Dies Alone Ayrshire.
For those who are alone, it aims to provide companions in the last 48 hours of life. It also offers respite for those with families.
Companions will offer support at home, in care homes, in hospital and hospices and will enable people to die according to their wishes.
The charity has started its work in East Ayrshire with plans to expand into the rest of the county.
Linda Jane, 48, has five children – Jordan, 23, Lewis, 22, Kai, 17, Nathan, 15 and Freya, eight – and lives near Newmilns in Ayrshire.
Having had difficult experiences and relationship break-ups, she said death puts everything else into perspective.
She added: “You have a greater sense of what’s important.”
The hardest part of her role is when people open up to her in their final days.
She said: “It can be hard to then move back into a normal life. But I surround myself with the right people who help me with that.”
She remembers the first time she sat with someone who was dying.
Linda Jane said: “I was concerned with doing everything right. It wasn’t until the end I realised it’s not really about the stuff you know and the things you can do, it’s about being there.
“Death is individual. It’s not scary. But if the person is feeling a bit scared, you can be a loving presence to help them get through.”
She said the dying want to know what’s happening to them.
Linda Jane added: “People want to know the process. It’s not commonly spoken about.”
She also helps them make peace with the world.
“Ultimately, death is the major letting go in our lives,” she said. “We have to let go of everything and it starts with letting go of the past.
“Sometimes they need to get things off their chest or make amends with family members and things weighing heavily with them.
“And everybody wants to know where they’re going to go afterwards. Having a visualisation of somewhere they would like to go really helps with that, for instance a meadow full of bluebells.”
Although she’s less scared of dying herself now, Linda Jane said she wouldn’t want to leave her children yet.
She added: “I think hopefully by the time I die, I’ll be ready. I know death can be positive and beautiful.”
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