To Everything There Is A Season…

The Late Paul Reading

A Time to Live

On June 21, 1984, following nearly a decade of single parenting, Paul J. Reading walked into my life. It was on our second date that Paul reached for my hand. I took his hand, and for nearly 28 years, we loosened that grip a few times, but we never let go. Not ever!

Paul gave me more than I could have ever imagined. He was my cheerleader, my mentor, my friend, my husband. He fully embraced my family, and I his. We had years of good times, bad times, easy times, hard times, exciting travel, celebrations, tears, laughter, happy family holidays and so much more.

A Time to Break Down

In about 2007, Paul changed. Fundamentally. Behavior. Memory. Attitude. This successful, well-educated, well-traveled, articulate businessman who had made the aerospace industry his lifelong career was diagnosed with the dreaded Alzheimer’s. A good man, my husband…the man I loved…my mentor and my loyal friend…was going to outlive his brain. He didn’t deserve the death he got. Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose.

The next four years or so were a gradual descent into hell for both of us. A nightmare.

For Paul: Cruel hallucinations. Raw terror. Panicked paranoia. Groundless suspicions. Leaving home to go to imaginary places. Declining self-care.

For me: Exhaustion!

A Time to Die

In the early morning of April 10, 2011, my husband transcended this earth peacefully, almost imperceptibly. His struggle was over. Peace was his. I had begged both God and my husband to please let me be with him when his transformation happened. ‘Til death us do part. My wish was granted. I was still holding his hand.

When the nurse whispered, “He’s gone”, I dissolved into her arms sobbing. My instantaneous thoughts? “What am I going to do?” Then, “Other people have gone through this. I’m not the first. I’ll figure something out.” I was physically, mentally, spiritually spent.

A Time to Grieve

I remember almost nothing about the next week or two. Meeting with the funeral director. Visitation. Memorial Service. Conversations. Family and friends. A blur. I was in a fog, and I stayed there for a long time.

I sobbed every day and night. I railed at people I loved and people I liked. Good people who didn’t deserve my displaced wrath. Later I learned that grief and anger are twins. I manifested both. I felt alone an abandoned, even though I knew I was not!

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. And it is a mistake to think you will ever stop missing your loved one. But you really can move from grieving to living, if you elect to go through your grief – not around it. The Walk of Grief is slow, hard and uneven; however, you can and will transform your journey back into life. It has taken me many missteps. But I have done it. I have transitioned into a good life again.

And so can you.

A Time to Gather Stones Together

In 2011, I had never heard of an end-of-life doula. It would take another seven years for the doula profession to come into my awareness.

I was surfing the Internet on a sunny afternoon last July when I stumbled onto a talk being given by Dr. Thomas Francel. He was explaining end-of-life doula work and referred to an upcoming doula training at which he would be speaking.

I attended that training.

The EOL doula concept resonated within my heart, mind, body, imagination, and creative drive. I was fascinated. I continued my training for another 9 months.

The more I learned the more I realized that my husband, my family and I had desperately needed an end-of-life doula in 2011. A doula would have eased the burden for all of us.

So today I am a trained end-of-life doula. Our culture needs doulas. So does our medical community!

A Time To Heal

I was a very young child when I made a sacred commitment to spiritual service. From childhood, I have felt called to full service for God and His kingdom, a passion to minister to those in need. When I learned about end-of-life doula work, I knew this was for me. The time was right. The time was now!

I did not find doula work. Doula work found me.

Please visit my website often. I hope you find the material there enriching and helpful.

And if you need any of the services I offer, please contact me. If we do not live near each other, reach out to me so I can support you in finding the help you need.

Thank you.

End of Life Doula Certification
Gloria Reading, PhD