From higher education administration to end of life doula: what the what?

Those who have known me for years in my professional life – registrar, funky tech, colleague, regalia junkie – might reasonably be puzzled by my pending transition to a (seemingly) completely different kind of career: end of life doula, death educator, and therapeutic musician for those in their own transition from one life to another.

And why not? I’m as surprised as anyone by the path my life, in its second half, has begun to follow. For this desk-bound control freak – who for 40 years has linked her life to the familiar arc and pace of the academic cycle – stepping out into this unfamiliar ground, this new identity, with its own unique ebb and flow, has been both supremely disorienting, and a kind of homecoming.

Think about it:  for 40 years, I have stood at the thresholds for young people.  High schoolers seeking to prepare for college – new graduates heading to college, stepping into those first heady days of freedom and responsibility – college students making the grade (or not) and moving from level to level, from first-year course to internships to capstones – and finally, the Most Wonderful Day of the Year, Commencement, sending them across the stage with hugs and cheers and tears.

Watching the thresholds. Preparing those who would cross. Celebrating those who finally do.  That has been my life, my career, my identity. It will continue to be the heart of the work I am stepping into as an end of life doula and therapeutic musician.

Yes, I am preparing to cross a threshold of my own – as poet O’Donohue urges, to “do at last what I came here for/and waste my heart on fear no more.”

Bon voyage!

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