My name is Randi M Keodouangsy. I am currently a hospice volunteer with Allay Hospice & Home, Inc. in Brookfield, WI and Bristol Hospice in Atlanta, GA. Being a compassionate companion and a vigil volunteer allows me experiences to serve you better. I trained as an End-of-Life Doula with The International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA) in May 2019.
The term “Doula” is taken from the Greek word “woman who serves.” Unknowingly, I have been called to service as a death doula as told my own unfolding story. From being a refugee born during the Vietnam War, to the loss of my 3 year old brother to malaria in the refugee camp in Thailand, to the death of my father to cancer in 2001 and to most devastating loss of my oldest son.
Upon the deep and painful reflection of those “Death” experiences, which to most of us, would scare or even scar us of our personal beliefs of death and dying towards a state of fear and paralysis. Any idea, thought, or bleak echoing from a distance of mortality could so easily put us in a place of our soul and spirit to give up and give in or even run from it. I was there as a daughter and mother. And yet I was a humble gatekeeper of death. I never wanted to hear anyone tell me they could understand my loss. Who would want to be understood in the pain and turmoil due to the loss of their child. That just didn’t seem like the way life “was suppose to happen.”
When my son passed away at the age of 21, I wondered if I had done everything right as his mother that supported his goals and aspirations. I had endless questions that maybe I really didn’t want answered. It gave me a sense of spiritual connection to him since that opportunity was now gone. The life ideal of the ‘unfinished business’ was an agony and burden that I thought was mine to bear for eternity. It wasn’t until I surrendered to anger, blame, and sadness and sat with my vulnerability that I found hope, clarity and peace. Through the growth of the natural process acceptance and coping, I am able to stand taller today. My meaningful life review was fueled by two searing questions “How would I want to be remembered?” and “Did I lead a life of service?” I knew I had something left for this lifetime for it was my pivotal point of life.
The eventuality of death gave me a sense of calmness and peace. But I had to grow from the immense confusion and pain into this purpose. To have an honest testimony. To have a reason to live the best and good life that has been granted to me. The reality of my brother’s, father’s and son’s deaths gave me an unexpected sense of hope. The sacred vessel of acceptance helped me to believe that I could share and gift that to someone whose fluidity called “time” becomes limited. And when the unfortunate life expectancy of ‘now’ is whittled to 6 month to 3 months is rushed into “getting it right.”
You probably are asking yourself on how I can serve you as an End-of-life doula. If you are reading my story, it’s possible that you been given an unexpected timestamp where the permanent ink called life appears to be drying fast in your mind. The culprits of uncertainty, fear, anxiety and worry may have you wanting to rush to get things done and nothing left undone. But its not going to be possible without the focus for your wellbeing right now. I want to support you through the sorrow and joy. A 6-month prognosis may seem short and unfair but it could also be a rewarding moment for the best time to make the best of the time you have. I seen how my father lived his last months. I only wished that I could offer more in his legacy so I offer this to you.
With integrity and utmost trust, I want you to have opportunities to ask questions and get answers as you need from loved ones, to bring a sense of understanding or even closure to a fractured relationship, to give or receive forgiveness, to feel a sense of validation of your life, to leave a legacy that you would be proud of for loved ones, and to really help you tap into a meaningful life review of peace and love. You should have a say.
No one should ever die alone. No one should leave a story untold especially when there is an opportunity to do so. Let me support that when you are ready. My son’s death was an immediate ending due to a tragic accident even though the surgeon tried hard to save his life. He didn’t have a chance to tell me what he wanted and didn’t want of his life. I had to discover through his passing that life will be of service and have a service that honors the beauty of discovery. To support and guide where a beautiful transition when time is friendly and kind enough allow someone dying to leave a legacy. And the honor of knowing it was the best way they want to do it…right. It is the death of my son Timothy not having me walk him home that birthed A Point of Life.
I sincerely want you to be whole although your world seems to be in a million pieces that as you take your last breath, it is one with peace.
Blessing of light and love,
“If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life – and only then will I be free to become myself.” Martin Heidegger.