january 5th journal

dying flower

It’s Tuesday, which is phone call day, so I had a bit of phone time with my soon-to-be-twelve-year-old. And ordered her birthday gifts so that at least some of them will get there by Friday, which is when she turns twelve. TWELVE. I’m getting old!!

There’s a weird sort of disconnect I feel, not having her here — especially not for her birthday — but I know in my bones that this is best for her right now. And if I can enable her to enjoy her time no matter where she is, I think I’ve done a good job at parenting. Also, I ordered chocolate frosting to arrive on her birthday because I can’t get her a cake, but I can still give her a treat.

I listened to an audiobook all the way through earlier this afternoon — The Dispatcher by John Scalzi — and the book in the above Instagram photo is one that I finally picked up and started reading last evening. I have a nice collection of books on death, dying, and grief, since that’s part of my self-assigned homework. And yesterday I finally picked one up and opened it.

One of my friends on Facebook asked me recently (on one of the rare occasions that I’m actually posting anything there) if I had a Patreon. I used to have one, but I closed it when my Work dried up and I needed to go into hibernation so that I could deal with a lot of my grief. I don’t need to ask my friends for money to survive right now, and I recognize that as a privilege I’ve never had up until recently; but my death doula work could be supported through Patreon or something similar. There are so many underserved communities where deathwork is needed, but there’s no access to it because of cost or other factors. This is part of what I am working on understanding better, so that I know what my role should or shouldn’t be. I want to be able to serve the dying and their families no matter their circumstances, and having the resources to do so would be a huge deal.

I’m still thinking it through, to make sure I am looking at it from all angles and to be certain that I am not just asking for money for the sake of asking for money. As a wise friend of mine said to me not too long ago, if a business is only sustainable through owner capital, it’s not sustainable; and it’s worth a look into WHY a person would choose to run a business based entirely on their own ability (or not) to cover all the expenses. Because that’s not sustainable, not really.

What I need to do, really, is find an accountant who can help me think through these things from a logistics perspective. I’m pretty good at squeezing pennies and making grocery shopping my bitch, but larger amounts of money and legal frameworks for them? That is not my field of expertise. And it’s not my comfort zone, either. Anyone who’s grown up in and lived in poverty would have a difficult time dealing with more than they need to survive, and that’s where I find myself when I think about this topic. It makes me feel really uncomfortable and I’m working hard at not sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU until I can manage to change the subject.

If I’m honest with myself, this is part of the reason that I’m struggling to begin to establish a death doula practice: I don’t understand how there are people that can afford a service like that, and how much money a dying person, or their family, is willing to pay in order for there to be support, comfort, hope, and maybe for some loose threads to be tied off neatly before the time comes for them to slip away. I’m not uncomfortable with death. I’m uncomfortable with capitalism, and the way it’s shaped my mind to see everything through a binary lens of how it can be commodified or not. For me, capitalism necessarily includes conflict, and I and my CPTSD try to avoid conflict whenever possible. I would rather take a burden on myself (whether I can actually carry it or not) in exchange for never having money conversations that are actually pretty normal and can happen without the horrifying awkwardness that I assume will contextualize it all.

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk’s flight
on the empty sky

– the Creation of Ea

Ursula Le Guin, Earthsea
Nix Kelley
Co-parent to multiple kids. Writer. Death doula. Member of the Order of the Good Death. Seeker on the Path of Light. Queer, non-binary, & trans.


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