Seeing Death Clearly

Wisdom from Death Midwife Narinder Bazen

January 07, 2024 Jill McClennen Episode 47
Wisdom from Death Midwife Narinder Bazen
Seeing Death Clearly
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Seeing Death Clearly
Wisdom from Death Midwife Narinder Bazen
Jan 07, 2024 Episode 47
Jill McClennen

In this episode, my guest is Narinder Bazen, founder of the Nine Keys Death Midwifery Apprenticeship.

In her twenties as a Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher, Narinder found herself officiating weddings, blessing babies, and attending deaths within her community. Embracing her mystic roots, she began offering death care, grief care, and trauma care. 

Our discussion evolves into the challenges of death work in a society that often views it as women's work, carried out freely without adequate support or compensation.

We talk about the current state of holistic death care and Narinder raises concerns about their sustainability, noting a lack of real support and financial viability. There is a need for a fundamental shift in the narrative around death work. 

Narinder advocates for acknowledging the financial realities, addressing systemic pressures, and ensuring that death workers can find sustainability in their vital roles emphasizing the urgency to reevaluate and rework the systems for a more effective and sustainable future.

Support the Show.

Support the show financially by doing a paid monthly subscription, any amount large or small help to keep the podcast advertisement free.

Subscribe to Seeing Death Clearly and leave a 5-star review if you are enjoying the podcast.

I appreciate the support and it helps get the word out to more people that could benefit from hearing the podcast.

Don’t forget to check out my free workbook Living a Better Life.

You can connect with me on my website, as well as all major social media platforms.

Facebook group End of Life Clarity Circle

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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, my guest is Narinder Bazen, founder of the Nine Keys Death Midwifery Apprenticeship.

In her twenties as a Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher, Narinder found herself officiating weddings, blessing babies, and attending deaths within her community. Embracing her mystic roots, she began offering death care, grief care, and trauma care. 

Our discussion evolves into the challenges of death work in a society that often views it as women's work, carried out freely without adequate support or compensation.

We talk about the current state of holistic death care and Narinder raises concerns about their sustainability, noting a lack of real support and financial viability. There is a need for a fundamental shift in the narrative around death work. 

Narinder advocates for acknowledging the financial realities, addressing systemic pressures, and ensuring that death workers can find sustainability in their vital roles emphasizing the urgency to reevaluate and rework the systems for a more effective and sustainable future.

Support the Show.

Support the show financially by doing a paid monthly subscription, any amount large or small help to keep the podcast advertisement free.

Subscribe to Seeing Death Clearly and leave a 5-star review if you are enjoying the podcast.

I appreciate the support and it helps get the word out to more people that could benefit from hearing the podcast.

Don’t forget to check out my free workbook Living a Better Life.

You can connect with me on my website, as well as all major social media platforms.

Facebook group End of Life Clarity Circle

[00:00:00] Narinder: Women were expected to give at themselves freely, unceasingly, and without regard to their wellbeing and death. Work is spiritual work. It's also caregiving, and it comes from women's work.

[00:00:15] Jill: Welcome back to Seeing Death Clearly, I'm your host Jill McClennen, a death doula and end-of-life coach. Here on my show, I have conversations with guests that explore the topics of death, dying, grief, and life itself.

[00:00:29] My goal is to create a space where you can challenge the ideas you might already have about these subjects. I want to encourage you to open your mind and consider perspectives beyond what you may currently believe to be true. In today's episode, my guest is Narinder Bazen is the founder of the Nine Keys Death Midwifery Apprenticeship, and she shares with us her journey to becoming a death midwife and educator. The conversation deepens into the challenges of death work in a society that often overlooks it as women's work, lacking the necessary support and compensation. our guest sheds light on the current state of holistic death care and raises concerns about its sustainability.

[00:01:11] Thank you for joining us for this conversation. Welcome to Narinder to the podcast. I've been looking forward to this for a while now. I know we're connected on Instagram and you were also a death doula, but I noticed in your business name Nine Keys Death Midwifery Apprenticeship. Do you prefer to go by Death Midwife versus Death Doula?

[00:01:34] I do, actually. Yeah, I want to hear about that. So usually I start off, just give us a little background, maybe where you're from originally. If you want to share how old you are, you can, you don't have to. Just anything that sets us up for who you are as a person outside of what you do. 

[00:01:51] Narinder: Okay, great. Thanks Jill.

[00:01:53] So my name is Narinder Bazen. I was born and raised, I was born in 1976. I'll let your listeners do the math. I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. I grew up there in the city and then after that went to school, got a degree in performance studies, performance art, and then moved to Chicago for 13 years. Been moved to Atlanta for 13 years, and I'm currently testing out what it's like to live in Maine.

[00:02:21] And so far, Maine is a bit of a show off, and it's really wooing me. I'm a nature lover, really active outdoors, spend a lot of time outdoors. So it's interesting here because the sun goes down so early now, it's like 4. 30, it's getting dark, so I'm really trying to allot my time to getting out. I am first and foremost an artist, activist.

[00:02:43] And my death work is braided in with those two purposes, to create beauty, to create challenges through my art, to support the midwifing of the new world. And it comes through a lot with my death work. I love it. And 

[00:03:00] Jill: how did you? get into death work? Because I feel like we, all of us that work in this space, we kind of made it here a lot of different ways.

[00:03:08] So tell us a little bit about 

[00:03:09] Narinder: that. Oh my gosh, that's a really existential question for me. I, I think that the first time I remember midwifing a death was around the age of four or five when I was midwifing a baby bunny. And I remember it so vividly. I put it into a box, a shoe box under my bed. And it just was like this, this moment in early childhood where it's almost like you're like struck with a deep, deep knowing that something is different about the way you are experiencing something.

[00:03:40] And then I would say my grief journey started around that same time. I am a daughter of a Vietnam veteran who was severely mentally ill after the war. So my home life as a child was quite traumatic emotionally and psychologically. So I would say my grief work and my death work started in early childhood.

[00:03:58] That's my existential answer to that question. Around the age of mid twenties, I started studying Kundalini yoga and meditation for my own mental health and ended up teaching Kundalini yoga and meditation. I started in Chicago and then moved to Atlanta. And taught classes in Atlanta, very religiously for a very long period of time.

[00:04:19] And my classes grew to really large numbers of students. And I became really involved with the yoga community, the wellness community in Atlanta, and then also the, the international Kundalini yoga community. My classes, sometimes Jill would grow to like 75. 80 students I counted, which is a lot of students in a yoga class.

[00:04:45] And out of that community, I started being asked to do baby blessings, officiate weddings, attend deaths. I am a mystic. I get it from my dad's side of the family. And so I'm, I'm comfortable speaking about things unseen, unheard. It was around the time when I was just getting into Kundalini Yoga that someone said, Narendra, did you know that midwives were called for the coming and the going of souls?

[00:05:13] And I didn't know that, right? So a lot of people associate the word midwife with birth. I didn't realize then I was young, young person didn't know that. So I feel like that's where the seed was planted for my midwifery. And so out of that yoga community, started doing a lot of death care, grief care, trauma care.

[00:05:34] One of my students was brutally murdered. That was pivotal. Students that had children that had suicided, that was really informative for my work. And at the same time, I was also caregiving for two of my elderly neighbors. And so I was learning like end of life because of age and terminal illness, but also all of these death and dying spaces that involve trauma.

[00:05:57] And the true story is that I don't remember how I got into a death midwifery, death doula thing, right? Like I don't remember, I don't remember the process of like, I'm going to look for something. That part of my memory is just gone. I studied with Donna Belk. She's one of the founders of the National Home Funeral Alliance.

[00:06:13] And she had a course called Beyond Hospice. And I took that course to dot my I's and cross my T's. Then when I came out of that course, I pretty much thought that everyone was going to be knocking my door down for death midwifery and home funerals. And like nobody was. But it was still more, it was like crisis management is what I was doing.

[00:06:34] Crisis management. I actually got a job in a green burial cemetery. I got to learn the ins and outs of green burial. Worked with families through that burial. That cemetery. Left that. And my death midwifery just. It just really, really grew a lot of death workers come into this work, not having that huge community like I had in Atlanta, Atlanta grew my death midwifery for me.

[00:06:59] I thought everyone was going to be asking me for death midwifery and home funerals, and that really wasn't the case. It was more like. crisis management and me learning the systems, me learning like the pressures that are in the current death care systems. I learned them in, not in theory, not from books that I read.

[00:07:17] I learned them by being in the homes with people who are experiencing the strain that caregiving in late stage capitalism. 

[00:07:27] Jill: Yes, there's so much strain there. And I think that actually leads very well into one of the things that I know we kind of messaged about at one point, but there's this idea that death care, the way that a doula or a midwife would provide it, that there's like this guilt around actually charging for it because it seems like it's something we want to just give.

[00:07:51] And I'm at that place where I don't have a huge community. Of people that are supporting my business. It's been three years now. I have a few clients here and there, but 90 percent of the work that I'm doing, I'm doing it for free. I'm answering emails. I'm constantly supporting anybody that has somebody that's dying, that just needs some help, needs to talk.

[00:08:13] Of course, the podcast, I feel like this is part of a death education and I don't mind doing it, but it's also capitalism. I need to pay my bills. And so we're in this like weird place from what I've been observing is so many people are doing this work. We're not making the money to pay our bills. And the only people that are maybe making money are training other people to do this work.

[00:08:40] So they're getting paid for that. And I don't know. I mean, what's I know some of your thoughts on it. But especially because I know there's people that are listening that they're thinking, I want to do this work. We need it. Right? That's one thing that everybody will agree upon, that our society needs people like us to do this work around end of life.

[00:09:00] So there is the need, but there's just that weird line of, but charging people, getting people to pay for it is, I don't know why it's so hard, but maybe it's because also a lot of people like us are so like, I would do it for free. I would always prefer to do it for free. I just can't do it for free. So there's like that disconnect there too.

[00:09:24] Narinder: Yes. You do know that you are hitting like my hot topic button right now. You do know that, right? 

[00:09:30] Jill: I know. And I think it needs to be talked 

[00:09:32] Narinder: about. It really does. Oh, I so appreciate you brought this up. So like bang on quick and this. in this conversation, Jill, because I am so impassioned by this topic right now.

[00:09:44] And there's many different branches that come off of this tree. One is, and we don't have to go way down this rabbit hole, a point can be made very quickly. Caregiving in our culture and our society has. predominantly been women's work, quote unquote, women's work. And just one generation ago, for me, women were expected to give up themselves freely, unceasingly, and without regard to their wellbeing.

[00:10:14] And death work is spiritual work. It's also caregiving. And it, it comes from women's work. And so we can't ask our society to change your shoes and have a whole different walk here when it comes to this stuff. But we are, we ourselves, the death workers ourselves, have to look within ourselves and say, how was I trained?

[00:10:41] How was I programmed? And what of the patriarchy within me am I upholding by continuing that narrative that it is okay for this work to be done freely? If we lived in a village 700 years ago, and we were at the death midway, someone would be feeding us, someone would be making our shoes, and someone would be building our house.

[00:11:07] We don't live like that. Some maybe a one off deaths, right? They live in a communal living situation, but we don't live like that. And so we need to have that financial ability to be able to buy shoes, to go to the dentist, right? Like I always say, death workers don't get into this because they want to drive a Maserati and stack up a bunch of plastic crap, right?

[00:11:29] They get into this because they are passionate about this work, but they drop out in droves because they have to go back to their jobs. They can't do this with like having little children at home. There's no cobbler in the village. There's no farmer feeding them. And so that's why I had this realization fairly recently within the past year or two, and I felt too, like I had the realization.

[00:11:59] But I knew I was going to be really rubbing some people the wrong way when I came out and started talking about it. But as a death midwifery trainer, as a death worker trainer, and I'd love to talk about my approach to that. As a death worker trainer, it is my responsibility Like an auntie, like a mama, it is my responsibility to make sure that my apprentices can find sustainability in their work.

[00:12:22] And so, yeah, I'm super, I'm super passionate about that. We won't make, do you want me to just keep riffing because I can just keep going? Please, 

[00:12:30] Jill: yeah, no, this is good stuff. We 

[00:12:32] Narinder: won't make a living wage in this work if we want to just be sitting bedside. Because as we know, death is 24 7. And I did it. Also, for the record, I work a lot for free, and I still do work a lot for free.

[00:12:48] At this time, I can afford to do that. I'm not making six figures here, right? But I'm safe right now. And I can afford to work for free. And I do. But if we're wanting to make living wages just sitting bedside, it's physically impossible. I tried it. I tried it multiple times. It's physically impossible. And so we have to look at a bunch of different creative ways to find financial sustainability in this work outside of sitting bedside or just doing one thing or that.

[00:13:22] And so let me stop there. Does that have a thought? You have a thought or question? 

[00:13:27] Jill: You're hitting all of it right on the head of that. I need to make the money or else I'm going to have to go back to a job. And if I go back to a job, I can't do this work because then I'm at my job. And so I'm trying to find ways to bring in income streams.

[00:13:43] And ideally, I want it to still be in this work, but I'm finding, you know, now I'm reading tarot cards more because that's, bringing in some income. And I love doing it. And in some ways, I feel like it's actually kind of similar work because I am bringing in a lot of talk about endings and letting go and grieving things that we need to grieve.

[00:14:01] And so it, it kind of feels like death work in some 

[00:14:04] Narinder: ways. It is death work. It is death work. Let me preface what I'd love to share. I'm going to use this as an example. As an artist, when I'm making a piece, it doesn't come out bang a masterpiece right at first, right? Like there are things that I do wrong, quote unquote, and I have to scrap that, erase that, try to make something of it, right?

[00:14:26] I tend to point out things that are wrong in the current holistic death care movement. And it's not because I want to be negative Nancy. It's because I want to say, I have to point that out because it's actually not working and we need to stop doing that. We need to knock that off, right? And we need to go back to the drawing board and, and rework these materials, right?

[00:14:51] So that it does work. So having said that. What I'm finding right now, Jill, is that there are, there are two schools of thought around our work, and I'll call them A and B. The first school of thought, A, is like the end of life doula, this trend, this like, the end of life doula job. You went to a training, You graduated, and then it's really kind of like ephemeral, you know what I mean?

[00:15:19] Like, we don't really know what you're doing, right? But you went to this thing, you graduated, and there's no job. What the public hears about is that. And that end of life doula school of thought is really focused on those who are dying of terminal illness or those who are dying of age. Also, that end of life doula school of thought is focused on like advanced planning, or it's focused on green burial or home funerals.

[00:15:46] I know I started out that way, right? And that is the movement that most people that have a far reach in their. audience, most people that have the financial backing, most people that have access to articles in the New York Times, or, you know, getting articles in the New York Times, articles in USA Today, or spots on Netflix.

[00:16:13] I mean, it just goes on and on and on. That A movement is what is the loudest and it is what society is being taught about our work. The issue that you and I have already touched on is that there's not sustainability in that. And so it's like they're making a big noise about these workers. But there's really no sustainability in it.

[00:16:37] It's like a fish out of water. Like, it's gasping for air. Both movements at this point. But that, because there is no real support. Also, we at the same time still have that trope that says that this type of work should be given freely. I'm all for volunteering for hospice. But I'm not for having people who are death doulas and death midwives and death workers coming in to volunteer for hospices.

[00:17:06] So, that system, which we both know, the hospice system, is under a lot of pressure. Medical systems in general are under tons of pressure. It would just make sense to me that they could be bringing in all of these doulas, but they, for the most part, They haven't, so there's, there's that movement. Do you want me to continue or do you have?

[00:17:26] Jill: Yeah, no, because that's something that I've been finding as well is that there's like, I don't know if it's a resistance or what it is from hospice. I've been networking now in person for three years with people in my community. And the ones that are least receptive has been hospice. It seems like hospice would want to embrace having, and I guess some of its funding, they already are stretched thin, I'm sure with money.

[00:17:53] But so like, that's a whole topic that I'm really interested in is like how doulas could support hospice and why it's just not really clicking yet. Hopefully 

[00:18:05] Narinder: it will. There's several reasons. One is it's not, it's not the nurse, the nurse managers. Who are under the most pressure in my experience. They're not the one saying, no, it's corporate that is saying, no, follow the money, right?

[00:18:20] So it's the Medicare rules regulations. It's up in corporate is where the stopping point is, in my opinion. And then also there is something as a really well known hospice nurse said to me that I needed to understand the art and deity. What does that mean? That means that nurses will go to school, like they go through boot camp, right?

[00:18:45] They're hardcore, these nurses are, and then they get into hospice and then they realize, Oh crap, I can't do what I really want to do. They're not giving me the amount of time that I would like to have to be with my patients, right? So they're under a lot of pressure. And then you got, oh, do do do do do, that doula comes in with her basket, like all the time in the world, right?

[00:19:07] And nurses are like, wait a minute. I want to be doing that, right? So, so there is kind of that ego going on there. That is an issue, but also I think it's more corporate. There are really. Small independently owned hospice groups. I'm going to be teaching for one in a couple of weeks. So I tend to say with my students, try to find those small independent hospice groups in your County.

[00:19:30] Like try to find those also though, Jill, that system, if I can speak in an anti capitalist meta late stage capitalist kind of egalitarian way. That system is actually failing. And so, I realized, like, instead of trying to fix that system, instead of urging doulas to get into that system, I needed to use my artistic abilities and go create something different.

[00:19:54] And I am just tickled pink that I feel like I have figured Some things out. I love it. I've started helping death workers who want to build business and I use old world speak and I use mystical speak and I use spiritual speak. I help people cause I did this too. We help because of what we've learned on our journey.

[00:20:15] Right. And so I had to go through all of that. I had to go through finding my own. resonance with the word marketing, my own resonance with the word business, my own resonance with charging for this work. I had to find my own resonance with it. And I'm so happy to be helping death workers right now, figure out their death work business.

[00:20:34] And it does not look at all like what the New York times is telling 

[00:20:39] Jill: people we're doing. And so I have two thoughts on that, which one is just kind of. I don't know if I want to be involved as hospice because of all of the Medicaid, Medicare, the money, the rules, like all that. And so yes, all of that were part of me is like, this is not working anymore, the way that society is doing a lot of things.

[00:20:58] So like, I don't even know if I would want to get involved, even if the opportunity presented itself to me. But now where you're talking about, like, kind of Finding this way, I know business coaches talk about niching. You have to niche. You have to niche. You have to niche. Right. And so I started thinking about that.

[00:21:13] I'm like, well, maybe I'm just too broad. Maybe I need to pick one thing and like really focus on that one thing. I've worked a lot with caregivers. I'm pretty passionate about helping caregivers, but I don't just want to work with caregivers. And also the whole idea of like the marketing online, I'm starting to just get really burned out of even just being on Instagram.

[00:21:33] Like, I'm grateful because I've connected with you and so many amazing other people in this space. But it just feels like it's such a time suck, and I don't get any Results that seem to be worth the amount of time that I'm doing. And so then I'm like, I don't even know. So when you're talking about kind of having some new ways, if you want to share whatever without sharing any of your secrets, but like your thoughts on even niching and how marketing.

[00:22:02] Can be done and should be done. And then also I really do want to hear more about your apprenticeship, apprenticeship, even though I can't say that. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:22:10] Narinder: So all of that stuff. I wouldn't say I have secrets, but I can't talk about my clients or my mentees work, but I can give some kind of general examples.

[00:22:18] I like the word niche just because I like the way it sounds and feels in my mouth. Right. So I actually like the word niche, but it's like a cute, fancy word. Here's what I have found. Let's use grief, grief workers. Let's use death. And I use death workers. Can I just say this for your audience that I, I use death worker as this umbrella term that in that, that comes over doula companion grief, companion death midwife, right?

[00:22:42] So when I say Death Worker, Holistic Care Death Worker, that's this umbrella name that I have for all of us that go by these different names. If you have a grief companion who is just focusing on grief and they're just putting out there that I'm available for grief support, right? I've watched, nothing happens.

[00:23:00] When they niche, when they get specific, About the very specific type of grief that they are wanting to work with and support, that becomes a beacon, a light goes on. So if you, for instance, if you have someone who has been focusing on grief and they come to me and they say, Narendra, none of this is working.

[00:23:19] And I'll say, okay, where's your passion? Who exactly do you want to help? And they're like, I want to help people who have grief because of instant loss or miscarriage. And I say, focus on those people. They'll see you when you turn that light on, they're going to see you and they're going to find you. But if we just keep talking about grief in this vague way, it just doesn't land.

[00:23:45] And so I do believe the more specific, like really super specific we can get as death workers, better. Yeah. 

[00:23:53] Jill: Yeah. But that's hard sometimes, especially when we're not doing a lot of work. And so we don't even know what we want. It's like, I can't necessarily say, well, I really want to work with this because I haven't actually done it.

[00:24:06] It's all just. thoughts in my head. I am starting to get clearer on who I want to work with, but it's hard when you're just kind of, it's just a thought exercise at that point of like, well, I think this is who I want to work with, but I don't know for sure until I do it. And then what if I hate it? And then I'm stuck.

[00:24:24] Narinder: I haven't answered. I haven't answered for everything, Jill. So I haven't answered for that. Okay. I'm that kid. All right. So this is, this is where I am right now with that. My idea could change soon. My, my thoughts around this could change, but this is where I am right now with this. I think that it's really good to like, if you do get into this work and I do think going through training programs is a good idea also, or finding an elder, like finding someone to study under.

[00:24:49] I think that's a good idea. I think it's good to go through some type of training. And then I think to like hang out in the sphere for like six months to a year. Like if you really put the pedal to the metal, it could be six months. If you kind of take a little more time to flow, maybe a year and spend that time seeing what resonates through social media.

[00:25:08] Seeing what does work you see out there that does resonate or like doing qualitative research interviews with your community and putting it on social media. Hey, I would love to interview everybody. Anybody that wants to talk about grief, I'd love to interview anybody that wants to talk about suicide, or I'd love to anybody interview me.

[00:25:25] That's let's talk about caregiving and start kind of pulling it and you'll find through those conversations. Things that really interest you, and you'll feel that thing in your heart that's like, Ooh, I really want to stick up for these people. Right? And so after you've spent some time moving the watercolors around, right?

[00:25:44] Then it will start to take some form and take some shape. And that's when you come back in, you scrap your website. And you start all over, right? And that's when you get really specific about the type of people you want to work for. If you want to help caregivers, oh my gosh, the world is your oyster. The world is your oyster.

[00:26:04] There are so many caregivers. that needs support. How about a caregiver that has a loved one who's dying from breast cancer? That's going to be different than someone who has a loved one who's dying from ALS. And when you say, I'm really passionate about helping caregivers who are taking care of someone who's dying from breast cancer, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.

[00:26:26] Here they come because that's them and they can relate. And it's not like, Oh my gosh, it's so like, it's so beautiful to me. This idea of getting really specific about. Who we're taking care of. Yeah. 

[00:26:38] Jill: And then again, there's that thought in my head though, of like caregivers are already under so much stress.

[00:26:43] And then I feel guilty charging them. I just want to do it for 

[00:26:46] Narinder: free. And that's no issue. That's your issue because I'll tell you what, Oh my gosh. I learned real quick that my clients would say, Norinda, I'd like to pay you for today. We're going to pay you. Or I'd give a free consultation and they would go, this is free.

[00:27:01] How do I pay you? You know what I mean? And I feel like that's an act of codependency. If I am giving things for free, I'm asking them, or if I'm doing it for a donation, I'm asking them to tell me what I'm worth. And I don't want to put that added stress on my caregiver. I want to make it very clear. This is my fee.

[00:27:20] And they go, thank you. And I send them a link. Bing bong. It's so easy. They don't have to think about it. 

[00:27:24] Jill: Yeah, that idea too, because I have added into my website, like I have my fees and I have them listed on there, but then I do say that I have a sliding scale, because I want to make it accessible to everybody.

[00:27:37] But you're right, that kind of puts pressure on people then to say, Well, I think you're worth 10. And then they have 

[00:27:45] Narinder: to deal with it. They gave you 10 

[00:27:46] Jill: bucks. Yeah. And then will I really show up for them long term fully if they're giving me 10 when I really feel like my time is worth 75. So yes, 

[00:27:59] Narinder: there's all of it.

[00:28:00] Exactly. Yeah. And like, I was thinking about, I had a conversation with a death worker recently that really stuck with me because they were calling me. It was a death worker who paid me. For my time to support them, their work with the family that they were working with, it had some really complicated family dynamics.

[00:28:19] And then I said to this deaf worker who paid me for my time, how much are you charging these people? And they weren't charging them. And I said, so you paid me for my time, but you're doing all of that for free and you have kids. So you're bringing all of that energy home with you. You're walking around with that in your mind, in your body, in your cells, in your spirit.

[00:28:39] For free, it's like looking at emotional labor as labor. That is work. And emotional labor, spiritual labor is work. And we've just been programmed to give it completely freely. And also, the more a death worker is financially set, the more work they can do for free. Mm 

[00:29:00] Jill: hmm. Yeah, totally. 

[00:29:01] Narinder: You got to build the foundation first.

[00:29:04] You got to build the house first. You can't say, these people need houses, these people need houses, I'm going to give all my time away for free. No, you build the house with the finances that you've met. You build the thing so that they can have a place to go 

[00:29:17] Jill: to. Yes. And I think we're going to get there, right?

[00:29:21] I think as a whole, we are moving that direction. There is a lot of things that I think need to kind of change and shift. in society that are starting to happen, whether society wants it to or not, we're kind of all going to be going in this wave right along with society. But it's just, it's so complicated, right?

[00:29:42] Being a human's complicated, trying to work with people in this super complicated time in their life. Trying to figure out how to charge for it, the whole thing. But I, I'm confident that we're gonna all get there. I did a training that was through like one of these online colleges, right? And it was just all reading and learning and then taking a test.

[00:30:03] And then I did like a mentorship with somebody that was still online, but it was face to face and there's a lot of support and everything. And it is important to have. that person, right? Not just reading it, not just taking it in educationally, but to have the person that you can talk to and ask questions and get guidance.

[00:30:23] And I know all trainers of doulas or midwives do it a little bit differently, but it's also kind of similar, right? We're all doing similar practices. So what makes your training different than everybody else's? What are your highlights of your training that you're super excited about 

[00:30:41] Narinder: and passionate about?

[00:30:42] Well, I've never done another training except for Beyond House This, which was all online, so I wouldn't know how to compare. But from what I hear, the Nine Keys Deaf Midwifery Apprenticeship is really long. It's really in depth. It creates embodied death workers. It creates spaces for death workers to find sustainability.

[00:31:03] It is really small and intimate. So very small cohorts that like four or five people in a cohort that traveled together through that nine months. And then I work with them a lot. One on one. And so I'm getting to know that person. I'm getting to know where are they from, what are their skills, what are their hang ups, what are the things they need to heal to get out of the way of their death work.

[00:31:26] The Nine Keys Apprenticeship is, it leans into mysticism. There's no belief systems. put on any of the apprentices that they have their own, but they are invited to develop a relationship with the soul calling. And so there's different practices and meditations that we do specifically for death workers in the apprenticeship that help their work to come into form from the abstract thought to form.

[00:31:50] The apprenticeship dots every I and crosses every T. It turns over every single stone. every single stone. So they know every single thing they need to know about death and dying in America or Canada. And I've got an apprentice in Australia. So we're, we're moving in shift in here, but they learn everything they need to know about death and dying as well as All of the things that you would learn in other courses like self care and compassion care and therapeutic touch and alternative therapies and those kinds of things.

[00:32:23] I think that the two hallmarks of the Nine Keys Deaf Midwifery Apprenticeship is that it is so small, is that it is just with me. So after the apprenticeship, my apprentices can still contact me. I do coaching for them. We have a system. I have like a 10 minute coach chat in the event that they are called into a situation and they need my help.

[00:32:42] And then we have other systems set up where I can help them build their websites. Some of them, we are building websites by the time they're done with Nine Keys. And I do teach them marketing. I do teach them how to get the word out. I do help them find sustainability in their work. That's my job, right?

[00:32:57] To like, make this movement actually happen. The other hallmark of Nine Keys, Jill, is that I, I, I staunchly am opposed to, to the narrative. that death workers, death doulas, death midwives, and death companions are just sitting bedside and making snacks for caregivers. And I got a chip on my shoulder about that because of a New York Times article.

[00:33:20] I'm really opposed to that. I have apprentices who are, let's say, I have an apprentice right now who is a, I'm trying to figure out how much I can share and not give information away that I shouldn't give away, is a very experienced researcher. In a very well known university here in the United States who has focused their life's work on research for medicines for a certain type of disease, they have come through my apprenticeship and now their death work is going to be taking shape.

[00:33:50] Where it involves the science right from their background and research and then also like new paradigm death care so that we're like creating a whole new thing. And then I have other apprentices who are really passionate about grief care. Here's a perfect example. They'll come out of nine keys being available to offer grief counseling.

[00:34:10] Like office hours, you work Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 10 until five, you've got these office hours. They'll come out being able to do grief counseling one on one. Also, they're skilled at all of the other things as well. Sitting bedside, home funerals, green burial, like advanced directives, medical aid in dying.

[00:34:31] These said, I mean, name it. They're skilled in those things, but their death work is really focused on grief care. So what I say is. The structure of their desk work would maybe be this, like, this thing that they're building around their one on ones, that very niched thing we talked about. That's the structure of their work.

[00:34:47] That's where they put a lot of their time, their office hours, studio hours, social media marketing. They put a lot of their time, their diligence. in that side of the work. And then that takes all the pressure off of the midwifery part. And so they're still available for those things, but they're not trying to like make a business out of that.

[00:35:06] Right. And those things are still happening, but just more in flow. 

[00:35:11] Jill: Oh, there's so much good stuff. I feel like scratched the surface of so many things. We could do another one. I know. I know. We definitely should. And if anybody listening really wants me to bring Narendra back on, definitely let me know. But at the beginning we kind of touched on this and we never did circle back to it.

[00:35:26] Why do you prefer midwife Versus doula, like what's your reasoning for using one term over the 

[00:35:33] Narinder: other? Yeah, so midwife to me is a verb. It's like midwifing. It's helping something be born, something move over the thresholds, and it is an homage to the shrouding women, to the indigenous elders. Who have been midwifing before the dawn of something called a credential or a certification.

[00:35:56] And so by holding that stance with my name midwife, it's to me, it's my personal homage to, to those women. And I also don't resonate with the word doula. So it's kind of like. a wool sweater to me. It feels scratchy on me. But I have apprentices who call themselves doula. I have apprentices who call themselves staff workers and some who call themselves midwives.

[00:36:18] So I think it's important that we find the name that resonates with us. 

[00:36:23] Jill: Yeah, and I kind of go back and forth. I think I had read an article once, they were saying that like, we shouldn't use midwife because midwife has to go through like a certain medical training or something. So like, I kind of cut that one off my list because I was like, well, I don't care about upsetting people when it's something that I'm super passionate about.

[00:36:42] But when it's something like that, I was like, all right, well, I'm getting rid of that one. And I do use. But yeah, I don't know if I feel that that totally fits either. And so now I'll kind of say I'm like an end of life coach, because in some ways that feels more like what I'm doing. Because you're right, I am sitting bedside with people.

[00:37:04] Right. Especially when I go to the hospital, but I'm a volunteer at the hospital. But when I go to the hospital, I am sitting bedside with people that are actively dying or just facing the fact that they're hitting that face. But a lot of the work that I'm doing, I feel like is coaching people, educating people, helping them work around their fears and their anxieties.

[00:37:24] I'm not a doula that loves. The paperwork, like there is some doulas that are like, no, let's do the five wishes and the advanced directives. I will do them, but it's more because I want people to get really clear so they could have the conversations with their family members. I want to be part of those conversations.

[00:37:40] Like that's definitely the work that I like the most. Is just helping people work through that. So I feel like end of life coach, kind of. But again, yeah, it just doesn't flow. I don't know. I don't know what to call myself. And so I just go all over the place with it. But I am always curious why people choose one over the other.

[00:38:01] And even when I was picking my business name, my doula mentor was like, you could put the word death in there. And I was like, I don't know if people in South Jersey are gonna be okay with that. I just don't know if they are. And yes, we need people to get more comfortable with the word death and dying. I don't want to beat around the bush and like, sugarcoat any of it.

[00:38:23] But so I went with end of life clarity because it just seemed like it still got my point across that I want people to get clear around the end of life and what it really means. And it just seemed like it was a little softer. But I mean, again, who knows? Either way, people still run away from me sometimes when I say that.

[00:38:41] Yeah, it's like the look on the face is like, Oh, no, let's talk about death. I'm gonna run away from her. But yeah, it's interesting why people choose them. And before we close up, I know I will share in the show notes. of the episode, a link to whatever you want to share. I know you have your Instagram because that's where I connected with you and I love your posts.

[00:39:03] You do a really nice job with your reels and just all of your content. I really enjoy it. But what else is there out there for people that want to connect with you more, learn more about what you do? 

[00:39:16] Narinder: I love an invitation. So thank you for that. And I'd love more invitations to talk, more podcasts. I'd love to do these.

[00:39:23] My website's nirndrik. com. And if there are families that want to work with me, it's very clear. I'm available for urgent care and I'm also available for death and dying space. So I'm available for both. And then for death workers, I have the 9 Keys Death Midwifery Apprenticeship. Which is the nine month course with me.

[00:39:42] So it's like super close working with me. And then I have a package right now that I'm really lit up about. It's called re imagine. And it's for deaf workers who are like, I want to turn this into a business. Like, I want to like get this legit. And. It is death worker specific. So I'm helping them find what their death work is.

[00:40:04] And that's four coaching calls with me with a lot of homework. I run a file on them. I'm following them on social media. I'm coaching them through their content. I'm looking at what they're doing on. their websites, like helping them like really get stuff clear, helping them create merch products, services, all types of things to bring in income for their death work.

[00:40:26] So that's called re imagine and that's on my website. And then I also offer one on one, just a one off mentoring coaching call. The better way to work with me would be either nine keys or re imagine. There's 

[00:40:38] Jill: still, I think, that lack mentality of like, sometimes there's that feeling of like, well, if one person's getting work, it's not going to be good for me because they're taking work for me.

[00:40:47] But I really like, exactly. I do believe we need to all lift each other up. And so I'm always happy to share other people's businesses, what they're doing, how they're doing it. Not everybody's going to resonate with one of us. People will find their people. So I do believe that. And again, in the show notes, there'll be the links so people can easily find it and not have to worry about writing down websites and spelling names and whatnot.

[00:41:12] So just go to the show notes if you want links to anything that we talked about. And I just really appreciate you coming on. It's always a pleasure to talk to somebody doing the same work, but just doing it different because we're all 

[00:41:25] Narinder: doing it a little different. That's what they say I'm doing. I'm doing it differently.

[00:41:28] Yeah. 

[00:41:29] Jill: Yeah, you really, I mean, again, from what I could always tell through your Instagram, I really liked that you went out and just kind of did your own thing. You didn't look like the other people, and I don't mean physically look, but like the stuff they were putting out and creating, like you didn't look like the other things that I was seeing.

[00:41:46] So I really appreciate 

[00:41:48] Narinder: it. It's born from boots on the ground. It's really born from like, Oh, oh my God, we need help. We need a lot of helpers. And it needs to look different than that other thing because. That other thing isn't reaching far enough. So there's, there's urgency in my work. Definitely. Thank you, Jill.

[00:42:04] Thank you so much 

[00:42:05] Jill: for coming on today. It was really a pleasure chatting with you. 

[00:42:07] Narinder: You as well. Thank you so much. 

[00:42:10] Jill: Thank you for listening to this episode of Seeing Death Clearly. Next week, I have two guests on for the episode. Kathleen McGee and Chelsea Duckers. I asked them to be guests on the show so I could learn more about the work they do as Elder Care Coordinators at Rothkopf Law Group.

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