Birth and Death

During my 20s I read two books by Jessica Mitford that had PROFOUND impacts on my thinking. They tore apart assumptions I had long held based on what I observed in my culture and in media.

Those books were:

The American Way of Birth, and

The American Way of Death.

If you like books, and are even remotely interested in thinking critically about how and why we do births and burials the way we do in North America, then by all means, read these books!

…or I can save you a lot of time and effort and tell you we have fucked things WAY up.

Not everyone can or should give birth in a hospital, or die in a hospital, or be pumped full of prophylactic (yeah, I just used the word prophylactic) antibiotics or formaldehyde, or lie on her back strapped to a fetal monitor or be hermetically sealed in a casket and vault. Clearly I am intermingling two very different events here.

My point is this:

A baby needs movement and gravity to work its way through the birth canal (squatting often helps) and dead bodies are meant to rot in the earth – there are precious few exceptions to these facts.

We have been scared into thinking that birth and death are always painful, dirty, scary and complicated. That they require professionals and experts and that we are incapable of knowing the right course without paying someone else to take care of things for us. These are monumental life events that require active participation and decision making. Nobody is paid enough to care more about your loved ones than you do.

Think critically, explore your options (there are many viable alternatives to the common route), and make your best choices.

Personally, I am all for squatting and rotting.