My name is Mikayla (she/they) and I am a death doula born and raised in Atlanta, GA.
When I was a small child, I never really pictured myself actually being a death worker. It was something that always interested me and something I was drawn to, but I never thought I had what it took to be something like a funeral director, mortician, or grief therapist. It was one of those things I'd chalked up to my morbid curiosity as the only goth kid in miles wherever I went.
Even though I've watched it from afar, I’ve been flirting with death my whole life. My mom was in great danger of miscarrying me. I had a heart condition when I was 4 that could have killed me, and nearly did. I was suicidal as a teen. I got COVID-19 and was left disabled by it.
At some point, any fear I had of death waned, and I almost view it as a co-worker I see around the office -- one that I consider a great mentor.
It was the summer of 2021 when I discovered what death doulas were.
There was a video of this community of First Nations people that came across my timeline that I have never forgotten. This was around the time hundreds of kids’ bodies were being recovered from the Marieval Indian Residential School. The number had gotten up to 600 by the time I came across a video of the Cowessess First Nations community — along with other indigenous people and allies — traveling to that school and taking a month-long trip on foot to walk their spirits back home.
Something shifted inside of me.
Shortly after seeing that video I saw something else on TikTok about death doulas and was absolutely bewildered. But I also felt it: my calling.
My practice gives a safe space for anyone wanting to transform their views on death, dying, and grief in an effort to lessen the fear surrounding it.
Being able to have a non-judgmental space where people are able to talk about their grief, their fears, and their curiosity surrounding death is important because we live in a world that actively ignores all of that.
In a society that only cares about working, productivity, and money, where does that leave us to process our humanness? Our grief? Our mortality? Even though we’ve seen so much of it over the past two years, it’s still frowned upon to be in touch with ourselves. Part of the reason that I wanted to be a death doula in the first place was because I wanted to help my community deal with the constant grief and trauma around us in a way that wasn’t clinical or impersonal.
Death is already such a taboo topic and while I can’t change the west’s anti-death nature by myself, I can help people on an individual level come to terms with what they’re going through. There’s no need to make it scary or sensational; death just is. That’s what I guide people into understanding and accepting.
I hope that by you being here to read this, that means you're ready.