Guest Blog: Tarron Estes, Founder of the Conscious Dying Institute
When I look back on how I came to teach “Sacred Passage: End of Life Doula” education, I see a beautiful pattern of connections and relationships, events and places. All playing unique roles. All touching. All connected – A long steady stream of connections from early childhood to now creating a beautiful life design.
I can see myself as a small child with my mother going to homes or hospital rooms of people who were sick and dying. My mom was a non-medical, natural born caregiver whose healing gifts were intact, I suspect, from the moment she was born. Caring was her calling.
I see my mom caring for people so tenderly, confidently and with love. Feeding sometimes. Cleaning sometimes. Sitting sometimes. Cooking. Just sitting. Wetting the mouth. Touching the forehead. Just being there.
I see the small town I lived in of 1200 people. A town square. Court house. School. And churches. Lots of churches. Our social events were simple: Marriage, birthdays, graduations, christenings, funerals. These normal life celebrations provided a close up view into the lives of our town and families. Nursing homes, funeral homes, and churches were very impactful to me. I knew at an early age that I was witnessing important sacred transitions and felt very comfortable and called to be a part of them.
My own healing journey eventually took hold, and as I struggled with my own personal challenges and desire for change, the teachers and teachings and all my work experience and professional training came together. I learned how to be with and support many different kinds of intimate life situations, people, families, systems, groups, communities. I learned to give back the amazing gifts of healing that I had received. My work is based on this principle: When we experience care, love and healing, the nature of our heart is to give back what we have received according to our own gifts and talents.
The Beginning of the Conscious Dying Institute
In 2013 I founded the Conscious Dying Institute to give back this care, to restore the end of life caring profession to its natural place so that families and patients can receive the care they want most in all domains of life. The work of the Conscious Dying Institute renews the true purpose and calling of many people drawn to this work. They know it is connected to the spiritual awakening of self and others.
This doesn’t mean there is a prescription for “spiritual awakening” or for “what people need.” It means that as we grow and deepen in our own authentic presence and become intimate with end of life desires and wishes, we are more able to inquire, understand and offer what is most important to others.
Conscious Dying Institute is an end of life doula education and healthcare training organization that expands the innate healing presence of frontline caregivers, whether medical or non-medical, to instill the confidence to have end of life conversations while preparing them to offer multi-dimensioned healing care to patients in hospices, senior communities, and large healthcare systems across the United States and Canada.
The End of Life Doula movement is a grassroots movement, just like the natural birthing movement was decades ago. It is a movement to elevate the current unsatisfying and long suffering experience of death. As we become less afraid of dying and begin to understand that all life moves through cycles or regeneration, we have the potential to leave the body, the earth, to be more complete, to be with less baggage, less pain and suffering. We learn to die in a less costly, more natural, and more sustainable way.
A New Careforce
We are creating a new “Careforce” of Doulas who are available to respond to the next generation’s desire for a good, healthy, natural way to die. People are really getting on-board to have death be the next wave in alternative, holistic ways of life.
Isn’t this wonderful!! At the very time our culture, nation, families, friends and health care systems need and want more comforting, holistic end of life care and less technical medical curative care, there is a massive wave of people ready to give this kind of care! At the very time the baby boomers and our parents are aging and approaching death, we are now learning to give the holistic end of life care we have experienced throughout our new aging boomer lives!! A magnificent force of amazing caregivers are showing up to “be the ones”—to remember how to do this sacred work…so we can all share the depths and beauty of who we truly are before, nearing, during, and after death.
My desire for the future of this work is for us all to have more time to experience healing and caring well before we die—to have support to explore and receive the love, care and healing we most want and need. Our goal at the Conscious Dying Institute is to provide the preparation needed to befriend death; to learn to surrender and trust deeply in each moment as we become supportive and effective end of life companions. Our training programs benefit all those involved in the care of life, love, family, and healing. Please join us with the reach toward the evolution of human consciousness through our practices to restore death to its sacred place in the beauty, mystery, and celebration of life.
Tarron Estes is the founder and director of The Conscious Dying Institute of Boulder, Colorado; a Faculty of The Watson Caring Science Institute (WCSI) and Adjunct Faculty with University of Colorado School of Nursing. She is a charter member of NEDAlliance.org, a newly forming collective of end of life educators creating standards of care, scope of practice, and a Practicum for graduates of End of Life Doula Programs. Tarron is also a founding member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s Council on End of Life Doulas.