About Death Midwifery and our Death Midwife Certification Class
Early in 2011, Earth Traditions partnered with Nora Cedarwind Young from Ceremonies for Life's Thresholds to provide a hands-on, intensive training environment to prepare interested individuals to provide this end-of-life service to their friends, families, and communities. This website is the continuation of that.
The Death Midwife has continued to develop this program.
Death with dignity and home funerals are a movement on the rise and are being embraced by the western cultured communities all over the world. As a natural extension of hospice more and more families are choosing to care for their loved ones - before and after death - in their homes. The intent of the certification course is to focus and sharpen natural skills and to give confidence, credibility and recognition to the skills and inspiration that build community as we embrace the most sacred threshold in the spiral of life, our final passage. This training equips participants to work with people before and after death.
The work of Death Midwives and home funeral guides does not duplicate the work of professionals such as doctors, nurses, hospice workers, or funeral directors; we work alongside them filling in the gaps. Our skills are not medically oriented, they are community, spiritually, traditionally, hands and heart-oriented. We use the ancient and time-proven techniques of an open and compassionate heart, touch, and our voices to work with individuals and families on emotional, spiritual and practical levels. This work can be done in any setting, whether in a hospital, nursing facility or a home.
There are currently no national regulatory bodies for a Death Midwife. This Certification class is offered as both a stand-alone intensive, open to anyone, and as part of our Ministry Training continuing education program through Earth Traditions.
Certification does not designate that a person has sufficient knowledge in a subject area, only that they passed the test. Certification does not refer to the state of legally being able to practice or work in a profession. That is licensure. Usually, licensure is administered by a governmental entity for public protection purposes. Licensure and certification are similar in that they both require the demonstration of a certain level of knowledge or ability.
A more formal definition of certification follows:
"One of the most common types of certification in modern society is a professional certification, where a person is certified as being able to competently complete a job or task, usually by the passing of an examination and/or the completion of a program of study. Some professional certifications also require that one obtain work experience in a related field before the certification can be awarded. Some professional certifications are valid for a lifetime upon completing all certification requirements. Others expire after a certain period of time and have to be maintained with further education and/or testing. Certifications can differ within a profession by the level or specific area of expertise to which they refer."
Institute for Credentialing Excellence (http://www.credentialingexcellence.org)
We understand the general desire and preference to keep Death Midwives in the grassroots/folkway tradition of compassionate care and if possible to avoid "professionalization" however, as this movement grows, we foresee the potential for a need to streamline the training for those practicing under the title of Death Midwife, in much the same way the massage therapy industry was forced to do in the 1990's. We are hopeful that should the time come that we are challenged to regulate, we will be prepared to either successfully object, or to provide a strong voice toward self-regulation, using our training program as an example, and grandfathering in, those who have trained under us, or who have undertaken similar training with other organizations.
Our program currently consists of three, 10-hour days of lecture, multimedia presentations, hands-on practice, ritual, and role playing; there is an exam at the end of the class. Graduates are added to our private community forum to share information and to support other Death Midwives in their work. The majority of our students come into the class having at least one death midwifing experience on their record however; this is not a requirement. We do encourage students interested in teaching the program to document 6 experiences in order to keep current or to progress with the training.
When a loved one's death is dignified, peaceful and meaningful, it can be a sacred experience for those left behind. Often an event such as this heals family rifts and enables people to reconnect with each other in ways that are life-changing for everyone involved. When families are able to participate in the ending of a loved one's life it can be very empowering.
The role of the Death Midwife to help facilitate this is becoming essential to communities everywhere.
If you have need of such support or know of someone who does, please contact a Midwife from this link: http://www.earthtraditions.org/death-midwife or you may call Rev. Angie Buchanan, at 224-501-5443, or email her; Info@DeathMidwife.org for a consultation or referral.