EP 337: On Death and Dying with Kelly Watkins
Last week, an acquaintance of mine, Kelly Watkins reached out on Instagram to share a post with me about how she’d be diagnosed with incurable blood cancer and asked if I’d be willing to have a conversation about death and dying on the podcast.
She herself has worked on both sides of life as a nurse in labor and delivery, a hospice nurse, and then outside of western medicine as a death doula, so she has a lot of perspectives to share.
Of course, I said yes and this episode is that conversation.
One of the things we both noticed about midway through the conversation was that we could have gone deeper and tapped into more of the things that people prefer not to talk about AND we felt a sensitivity around the current climate around COVID-19 and the Coronavirus and the mortality and death we’re about to be confronted with across the globe – so we trusted that where we did go was perfect.
A few of the threads we pulled in our chat were: being a mother of five under quarantine right now with just one of her babies, what matters most to her right now and why, definitions of grace and the presence of grace in her current experience and experiences she’s had with clients and patients over the years, death as a calling, how life and death are connected, how important it is to talk about death, how we need to find ways to be more comfortable with this and more.
As I’m feeling more compelled to approach interviews this year – we just hit record and went until we felt complete, which was about 90 minutes.
I hope you’ll be transformed and moved by this tender conversation, share it with loved ones and use it to spark your own inquiries and explorations of your relationship to death and dying and any shifts you may want to make around that.
From Kelly Watkins:
I spent 18 years of my life as an RN.
The first half helping women birth and bring babies into the world and the second half in hospice, helping people leave. Death and birth. Beginnings and endings. That has been my calling. That is still what calls me-even more deeply once I found this work.
Over a decade ago I changed the flow of my life to learn a new language of healing. I had outgrown the myopic scope of western medicine and began searching more holistic paths to helping people heal.
The majority of my private practice centers around using polarity and craniosacral therapies with babies, mamas and people facing the end of life/dying.
I truly have such reverence for the place between heaven and earth.
From the first polarity session I received…I was hooked! It was a feeling of coming home to myself in a way I hadn’t experienced.
I didn’t even have words to explain it.
It was that first session that sparked my full devotion to understanding this work and ultimately-teaching it. I’ve been studying under Gary Strauss of Life Energy Institute and completed my R.P.P. at Southwest Institute of Healing Arts.
I’m a mama of 5 and a granny to 2 miraculous humans. They are the fuel to my rocket and the best parts of my experience on the planet.
I became a Yoga instructor in 2000 and consider it one of the secrets to being open, loving and adaptable (and less cranky) as we age.
Although I’ve successfully consulted and opened a handful of multi-million dollar companies in the last decade, the truth is-I love driving a tractor, smooching babies, and welding rusty metal the most.
What You’ll Hear:
11:32 How Kelly is feeling in her body
13:43 The truth that’s having a big impact on Kelly right now
17:52 Learning to have more grace in life
22:41 Losing her own mom in her early 20s and the effect this had on her life
25:23 How Elizabeth’s connection to the divine mother has helped her relationship with her own mom
29:51 Why death has been a calling of Kelly’s and her experience as a hospice nurse
33:58 How our bodies change before we come in and after we leave
35:03 How to start talking to others about death and dying
40:13 Themes that Kelly’s noticed around people dying and working as a death doula
43:52 How we don’t know what’s on the other side of death
51:11 The distance between the awakened world and the dream world
56:50 How our lives are finite and you don’t know how long you’ll be around
01:01:27 What grace means to Elizabeth and Kelly
01:07:01 Dealing with a breast implant eruption and having to get it removed
01:10:50 The form of cancer that Kelly has and how it was brought on my breast implants
01:14:48 How your body is a work in progress AND a work of art
01:20:16 Valuing and appreciating the things you have: your body, heart, people and emotions
01:24:54 Elizabeth’s experiences with death
01:27:03 How Kelly feels about educating your children about death
01:30:16 Kelly’s reflections on what she’ll miss the most
Click here to watch/listen or scroll upward to listen only:
“There is truly nothing besides love that matters to our being.”
“To watch your child be a parent is truly an amazing thing to see.”
“That’s the worst feeling about having a terminal disease is I am more worried about how they’re going to be when I’m gone.”
“That’s the deal when you finally get to the place when you realize you are the mother of you and you can go back in and have the most perfect custom made love through mothering yourself.”
“I think death was a calling of mine, for as long as I can remember actually.”
“It’s important to know that there’s something that we return to.”
“It’s important to talk about death, especially to people who are dying.”
“Across the board, most people wish that they had spent more time with the people they loved.”
“It seems so serious when you’re in the middle of life and it’s really not that serious.”
“We’re all experiencing death.”
“We don’t know what’s on the other side. We can imagine it, read books or have a conversation with each other and try to picture it but we don’t know.”
“You can honor the dark and still walk with the light.”
“Watching your life and being in your life is the most beautiful thing you can have.”
“Why would we have shame around the shape of our breasts? Beautiful, milk-producing, life-giving breasts. Who in the world said something to us that made us think that standing up, fake barbie tits were worth dying for?”
“Humans are just the most incredible things and it’s been such a privilege to know the humans I’ve known.”
How was this episode for you?
Was this episode helpful for you today? I’d love to know what quote or lesson touched your soul. Let me know in the comments below!