Nora Batiz

The Introduction to NORA – Comfort Care: the book
that is changing the way we talk
about dying and death:

The moment of birth is a grand show!  Whether we are the star, leads, or supporting cast this is The Moment - the beginning of life on earth.  If we are the star, this moment will be celebrated every year for the rest of our lives as our first day.  If we are the leads, the parents, it will live in our memories as the day when our world changed.  If we are the supporting cast or anyone, from grandparents to midwife (with a good one-liner), it is an opportunity to see life at work.

With birth we have bright expectations while preparing for the new arrival.  We bury ourselves in preparations, but we often hide our fear of the change its arrival will make in our lives.  Then the big day arrives.  We are overcome with The Moment.  As the little one bursts forth and grasps life with her first breath, we relax.  The transition has been successfully completed.  Now we can get on with life.

Birth is more than noble sounding rhetoric.  There are contractions, water breaking, rushes to the hospital, fear, anxiety, PAIN!  This is the process of birth that ceases in that awesome moment.  It's messy and painful. Few want to talk about it.  But all of the fear and pain is as much a part of coming into this world as is joyously counting the fingers and toes of the new arrival.

Birth and all that leads up to it are parts of a process called transition.  We make transitions all the time.  The transition from sleep to waking and its opposite the transition from waking to sleep are daily occurrences.  The seasons of the year, summer and winter, are marked by hot and cold with the transition seasons of spring and autumn in between.

Birth is in essence the culmination of the first transition of our lives.  As with all transitions, it is the progress from one state of being into another; from hot to cold, from winter to summer, from sleeping to waking.  While in the transition place of the womb, everything is taken care of for us.  We are fed and kept warm. All we have to do is produce the physical body that will contain all we need to sustain life.  After we are born we have to survive on our own.  Mother feeds us and father protects us at first but at some point we are expected to do these things for ourselves.  We are expected to initiate the transitions of our lives by ourselves.

Death is similar to birth.  It is the end of a transition called dying just as birth is the ending of the transition called pregnancy.  Dying is very similar to pregnancy and we need to be nurtured and protected while we complete the transition.  It is messy and can be painful and very few people want to talk about it.  Yet death has the same significance in human life as birth does.  The only real difference is that it is the end not the beginning.

Death is the letting go of the life we grasped at birth.  Unfortunately when the purpose of an action is to end life, it brings out all our survival instincts.  Our fears are heightened because we are facing the unknown, the future.  If I am not here what will there be like?  Where do we go at the end of our transition of dying?  How will it feel?  Is there really a white light? A god?  These are the questions that become paramount at the end of life.

Back when we first grasped at life, it is possible that we had no more knowledge of where we were going at birth than we have about where we are going at death.  Perhaps it's part of a universal plot or maybe life on earth is just a vacation from another place even better.  The point is that with all we have learned about our bodies and how they function, death and what happens after is still as much a mystery as where we came from in the first place before birth.

To Nora Batiz, though, death is no mystery.  She has experienced it often in her twenty-two years as a certified nurse's aid caring for the elderly.  She makes three basic statements about death and dying:

  1. Death is reality.
  2. Dying is an opportunity.
  3. Death is beautiful.

If these do not seem to be the type of statements we'd expect from someone about death and dying it might be because Nora has a very different view of life and death.  She was raised on a small island off Honduras.  There were no doctors, hospitals or even drugstores.  Death was a part of life because the dying were a part of the on-going saga of life.  They were cared for in their homes by their families.  There was no one else to do it.

Nora's statements call into question our concepts of death here in the US.  They reveal our fears and illuminate our lack of faith.  Yet if we accept death as the reality it is, then by taking advantage of the opportunity dying presents, death will be beautiful for us and our loved ones.  We don't need to change our religion.  We don't need to change our health or life insurance.  We only need to be open enough to begin talking about dying and death.

Nora, Comfort Care is about how to accept death by understanding the process of its transition period, dying.  In his book, How We Die, Reflections on Life's Final Chapter, Sherman B. Nuland states that each person's death is unique.  Just like birth.  This is an opportunity to create a peaceful dying and death for a loved one or even for ourselves.  Nora can help.

Now, a decade into the twenty-first century, we are facing a crisis in our health care system.  Our fears of dying and death are driving us to make unreasonable demands on our medical professionals.  An ICU bed costs upwards of $2000 per day.

We need a new vocabulary on life that includes death.  The attitudes Nora presents here and the suggestions for taking advantage of the transition of dying show us how we can face our fears, and create a beautiful death for our loved ones.

Copyright © 2010 Kali Creation