Thanatology: The description or study of death and dying and the
psychological mechanisms of dealing with them.
I am currently studying thanatology, with the desire to be a grief and
bereavement counselor. I¹m only 22, and one might ask why I¹d be interested
in such a heavy topic. Or what I might even be able to bring to this
magazine as a new writer.
Twenty-two years ago, my twin and I were born at 25 weeks. I was one pound,
twelve ounces and my twin was one pound, 8 ounces. We stayed four and a
half months in NICU, and we are both very blessed to be here. We are both
in school now, studying and planning to give back to the community that
helped us get to where we are today.
When I started college in 2011, I initially was studying kinesiology. I
planned to be a physical therapist. I sometimes doubted whether that was the
right program for me, and as it turns out, I realized it wasn¹t that
December right before the holidays.
My beloved grandfather hadn¹t been well, and though we felt he may have had
a bug from a trip he’d just returned from, he actually had gall bladder
cancer that had spread to his liver. Christmas that year was obviously
somber, and we spent as much time at my grandparents as we could.
Exactly one month after his diagnosis, my life changed. He died. We
surrounded him as he took his last breaths and something came over me.
I now know it was God providing me with strength and direction. I began to
remember and recall things my grandfather had said; things we did together
as a family and most importantly, I comforted those around me. They had
questions as to what was happening, though at the time, I didn’t have
answers. We remembered the life he lived and how he helped each of us
throughout our lives. I had to call my Dad to say that his father-in-law
died. Dad had worked that day and was going to come up the next day. I had
to tell him the news.
It wasn’t easy.
I took charge and got all the things of Grandpa’s that the home and health
care workers needed. I greeted them and let them in. I knew after his
visitations and the funeral that was what I was meant to be doing. Even in
my grief, I felt called to comfort and handle the things that my family had
such difficulty handling.
The following school year I started in the grief and bereavement program at
school. I know without a doubt that this is what I am to be doing. As a
micro-preemie, I am aware of how lucky to be alive I am, and as a Stillbirthday birth and
bereavement doula, I hope that I am able to offer comfort and
compassion to mothers who are in similar situations as mine was. More, I’m
beyond humbled that my life has direction as result of the hardships I’ve
experienced. I hope to act as a bridge between those who have lost children
and those who haven¹t, and to offer research and education that has been
lacking as the silence of child loss continues to be broken.
I¹m so honored to be here.