CBC Radio · Apr 24, 2015

A Death Midwife helps navigate end of life

Gloria Christianson remembers vividly the moment her son Scott passed away.

“Somebody came out and called me back into the room and said, ‘It’s time.’ I sat down, they passed him into my arms and he took his last breath and he died,” said Christianson.

Scott was blind, had a hearing impairment and other disabilities.

“Medicalizing him was the story of his life,” said Christianson, adding that emergency care could be very confusing and upsetting for him. “He’d had enough of that during his fragile life.”

Despite his complex needs, as Scott’s death grew imminent, many of the fears Christianson felt were universal. She worried that he would be alone, or that he would be interfered with by a medical crisis. She worried that people would restart his heart or try to resuscitate him.

To help navigate all this Christianson turned to Judith McGill who became the family’s death midwife. She helped them develop a plan around Scott’s death, and aided them in confronting tough questions along the way.