LETTER: We also need to care for dying

THE story “Call the midwife” (Herald June 14, 2014) highlights the important role that midwives can play in the birthing process.

Being at the bedside and assisting a mother in the birthing of a new life is without doubt a very special time. When a mother goes into labour it is normal to have caring people at her beck and call during the entire time.

There are few births without attendants at the ready.

The same can hardly be said at the other end of our days.

While midwifery at birth is the role we are most familiar with, midwifery at death used to be just as common.

Being at the bedside and attending to the needs of the dying and their family is not valued in the same way as birthing midwives.

It has fallen out of favour, being replaced by the medicalisation of the dying phase of life and the commercialisation of the funeral industry.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Home hospice is beginning to bring changes. There is now an increasing interest in training midwives for the dying.

In other cultures around the globe, and for thousands of years, people have stayed in their homes to die, looked after by their family and local community.

A film that portrays how a community is attempting to reclaim some control over dying and death is to be broadcast on ABC1 this Sunday.

Tender documents the final weeks and days of Nigel Slater and how the Port Kembla community cared for him, then arranged and conducted the funeral that followed.

Stuart Carter, Macquarie Hills

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