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Daily Inspiration: Meet Amy Rush

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Rush.

Hi Amy, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
For over two decades after graduating college, I was a communications professional in-house, agency, and freelance. You name it. I did it; the work was often excellent, but a few times not so great. I mostly remember projects I am intensely proud of, work that touched my heart and other people’s hearts. My favorite work was storytelling, writing about fascinating people from around the globe doing uplifting things for others. For those opportunities, I am forever grateful.

But the last position I held as a communications professional was a nightmare. Sure, I was making excellent money, and the role appeared glamorous from most angles, but the on-the-job cruelty and abuse I experienced and witnessed were repulsive. The role was screaming (figuratively and literally) at me, “Either turn your back to darkness or assume your role in it!” My decision to leave a six-figure salary and what appeared to be a life of luxury was no doubt difficult to make, even in the face of egregious behaviors that did not align with my ethics. My husband and I had many talks, and I shed many tears. But I was at a crossroads that demanded total commitment, one way or the other. I chose to create and follow my path forward at that fork in the road.

I did not know it then, but I was walking away from that particular job and an entire career. I now understand that my career was ending precisely so that I could answer my true calling. I am forever grateful for that struggle, as tough as it was.

And while my decades-long life in communications was coming to a close, so were the human lives of two people very important to me, my dad and my grandmother. They were actively dying at the same time, and they passed within 90 days of one another. I helped both of them die, providing around-the-clock bedside care and learning first-hand more about dying and death than I ever imagined possible.

I am a death doula precisely because I was profoundly influenced by all I witnessed and experienced at my dad’s and grandmother’s bedsides. As they transformed before my eyes into their next life, so too was my life transformed into its next iteration. I was undeniably inspired by the opportunity to “walk them Home,” as I say (with due credit to Ram Dass). Helping them die was one of my life’s greatest blessings. And I realized in those experiences that I saw the light, love, and healing embodied in the dying and death processes that others don’t see but should. We can learn and grow exponentially and truly enhance our shared experience on this planet by engaging with dying and death and helping others do the same.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been smooth?
My work as a death doula and medium has come with ease and blessings, too many to count. This is when you know you are following your highest path of service.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I am Amy, the wife of a mechanical engineer with an MBA, the mom of two hilarious and busy teenage boys (and a dog and a bird, also both male), a sister, an aunt (to all nephews!), and a friend. In my work with the larger world, I am a certified death doula, a medium, and a Reiki Master. My death doula work is most important to me, as I see how necessary it is and how it facilitates healing for everyone involved.

A death doula offers non-medical support in dying and death to the dying human and their loved ones. Our culture provides plenty of medical-based resources along the full spectrum of life, including death; doctors have medicine covered, and we thank them for that. But because dying humans are far more than their diagnosis, their disease process, and even their physical bodies, additional compassion for the dying is required of us. We must truly care for the full human in dying and death in all aspects. Death doulas are here to serve this way, working to bridge all parts of the human experience and all parts of the dying and death experience.

We create and hold space around and for the dying human so that all systems at play (e.g., hospice providers, familial relationships) can function at their highest levels in service to the dying and everyone who loves him/her/them. This strategy enables learning, growth, and healing to happen that perhaps wouldn’t otherwise occur.

The death doula role is different for everyone who claims it based on our personalities, specialties, and goals for our work. And like each birth is wholly different, so too is each death; death doulas understand this inherently, so our service is constantly evolving to meet the unique needs of our clients. As a death doula, my strengths are serving individual clients during the active dying phase and teaching small-group classes. In the last year, I have taught classes about a range of topics, including the death doula role, green(er) burial choices, how to support dying loved ones, deconstructing fear of death (and fear in general), and how to connect with spirit to bridge this life across the end to the next. In my work with individuals, I engage with either the dying human directly or with members of his/her/their family. And that engagement can look like infinite things depending on the needs at hand. In the last six months, for instance, in my work with individual clients, I have done the following:

• Helped a family move their dying loved one from a hospital setting back home, where she died a very peaceful death.

• Helped a family move their dying loved one from their home to an in-patient hospice facility, where he and his family received exceptional medical care and support.

• Managed the demands of in-home hospice care for families who struggled to do this independently.

• Provided coaching throughout the dying process, creating and holding space for clients to understand, process, and integrate the different layers and stages of the journey.

• Provided spiritual counseling and prayer.

• Worked across the veil to connect passed clients with loved ones who remain on this side of life (i.e., mediumship).

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
As a child, I was most alive and at home in Mother Nature. On my dad’s farm along the Big River in Jefferson County, I’d spend countless hours alone in the woods, harvesting what he called “Indian Berries,” which I would then mash into a pigment and use to mark myself with line-and-dot tattoos of my creation. I would also “hunt” for arrowheads, snakeskins, feathers, sunsets, and satellites. I maintained extensive moss and pinecone collections that I was incredibly proud of. I was always searching, always observing, always dreaming. This child is still alive and well; the altar in my home office is decorated with my most recent finds, mostly collected on Chouteau Island along the Mississippi.

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Image Credits
Headshots by Danny Zofness of DTK Studios

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