April 26 – May 30, 2024

FOOD, HEALTH & LIFESTYLE Clonakilty Friends of Asylum Seekers looking for volunteers


C lonakilty Friends of Asylum Seekers (CFOAS) is asking members of the public inter- ested in volunteering with the group to get in touch. CFOAS provides practical support to families seeking International Protection who are resident at The Clonakilty Lodge Direct Provision Centre. Currently there are 98 residents, including 46 children under the age of 18, resident at the Centre in Clonakilty. CFOAS strives to improve the quality of life and health of families living in Direct Provision in the Clonakilty area who are seeking asylum, with a particular focus on supporting families with children and those experiencing the most poverty and disadvantage. Supporting the educational needs of asylum seekers is also a priority. In

various community groups. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with CFOAS please email hello@ clonakiltyfriendsofasylumseek- The Clonakilty Friends of

it challenged me deeply before landing as an enduring truth. Although the thought of death may shake us to the core, the dying process itself is natural and our body’s intelligence that carries us throughout our lives knows how to do it. These moments are about asking our person what they want or need, leaning in and deeply listening then letting them know they’re heard. Perhaps communication is no longer available and that’s ok too. If ever there was a time that silence is golden, this liminal space is it. However I understand this isn’t so easy at times. This week a question came of what could be said to comfort someone who was unresponsive. A number of research studies have shown that the dying brain responds to sounds and tones even during unconscious states; in other words, hearing is the last sense to go. Be moved by what’s in your heart – it may be express- ing gratitude for your person. One consideration is the ‘Hoʻo - ponopono Prayer’, a simple healing prompt; essentially “I’m sorry, forgive me, thank you, I love you.” If you feel reassur- ance is needed, let them know you’re there, that it’s ok to go. A friend and teacher suggests we imagine being in their place of dying with no choice but to leave – how would we want people to say goodbye and what would be most helpful now? Sometimes holding their hand or gently massaging the feet can be soothing – sometimes addition, the body aims to support those who are making the transition into living in the community. Currently the CFOAS pro- vides a homework club facility for the primary school children, a parent toddler and baby group, family, and individual support to all, out of school activities, linking the asylum seekers to the community through educa- tion, projects, sports, activities, our community garden and

In early March, a group of seven art and textiles students from Cork College of Further Education Training Centre, Clonakilty (Cork ETB), undertook a five-day trip to Vigo in Northern Spain. The group were warmly hosted by their Spanish peers and enjoyed Spanish lessons, learning about Galician music and dance traditions, as well as the regional language ‘Galega’, art lessons in sand-art of Celtic designs (also common to Galicia), crochet and fabric lattice work. They were introduced to people who worked on costumes for theatre and dance and designers who used hand-dyed wool from nettle, bamboo and re-cycled fibres. The trip was part of the Erasmus + programme which facilitates adults to undertake a learning experience in another country. This initiative is funded by the European Commission. For more information on adult education opportunities in Clonakilty visit the Facebook page @ClonakiltyFET

Asylum Seekers Annual Gen- eral Meeting will take place at O’Donovans Hotel, Clonakilty, on May 22, at 6.30pm. All welcome to attend. Grace and love are enough

touch is not wanted. Know your person and when in doubt – just be. A concern that often arises is that your person may die when you step out of the room. This is not uncommon as sometimes it makes it easier to let go. Gently remind yourself that this is a transition they must take and sometimes people choose to die on their own.

in the community recently transitioned and her nearest and dearest shared that in the months prior, they organised a whats app group with collective prayers and healing thoughts at certain times every day and also sang at her bedside on several occasions. The Irish Hospice Foundation and Poetry Ireland created the book ‘Poems for When You Can’t Find the Words’ (2022) and there are other such compilations that offer comfort in death and grief. I also want to mention that, when the dying person takes their last breath, to consider pausing and doing nothing – (again death is not an emergen- cy). Hospice nurse and end of life doula Gabby Jimenez puts it beautifully “when the last breath is taken and the room gets quiet, sit with it. Pause, breathe and just be with it. That moment is sacred, there is no need to rush anything after that.” I also recommend reading or listening to the three minute talk called ‘The first thing to do when someone dies’ by Sarah Kerr, PHD. It’s too long to share here, but the first few lines are ‘when someone dies the first thing to do is nothing. Don’t run out and call the nurse. Don’t pick up the phone. Take a deep breath and be present to the magnitude of the moment..’ Become familiar with the natural dying process Being with dying and death are more than medical events, however having some context

for what’s happening biolog- ically can support us. It’s ok not to know such information – even healthcare professionals may not be aware of what to expect if they haven’t been with someone as they transition. Like birth, dying is a process; there is labouring involved. Author and educator David Kessler writes “dying is like shutting down a large factory filled with engines, assembly lines, and giant boilers. Everything does not suddenly go quiet.” It’s helpful to have some famil- iarity, otherwise it can feel frightening for some. When I have offered general education about the signs/symptoms of dying, I’ve received feedback that it was reassuring. Medical staff may be busy or feel you don’t want more information now – whereas it can also be empowering so don’t hesitate to ask. One excellent resource is ‘What to expect when someone dies’ with Dr Kathryn Mannix, a death educator and retired palliative care physician in conversation with Annalisa Barbieri. It is 45 minutes of tender, clarifying language that all can understand and is found on many websites/platforms for podcasts. And while there are many, a few books that come to mind include ‘Sacred Dying’ by Megory Anderson, ‘Present through the End’ by Kirsten De- Leo and ‘The Five Invitations’ by Frank Ostaseski. I think they touch on the heart of being with the dying, offering practical wisdom.

Take exquisite care of you Please mind/be kind to yourself – take deep breaths, drink water and give yourself space to grieve. Even when we are well supported, it can also be helpful to connect with someone outside the immediate circle around the dying person. End of life doulas acknowledge, accompany and hold space for you along the way – before, during and after a death occurs. Despite the profundity of loss, may you also feel the sacred space you’ve been part of while bearing witness to per- haps the greatest of mysteries. ‘Can you be with me in the cold morning of dying? / When the fire in me is out and nothing warms my blood / Can you watch with the eye of a mother? / When the candle is burnt and the friends have gone? / Can you just be, not wishing one more breath in me? / And when my eyes are closed shut / Glad of the long quiet rest / Will you then still travel with me? / As I close this door behind / And open into the open heart of death / Sweet love call that brought me birth / Now calls me safely back in earth’ Taken from ‘A Celtic Book of Dying’ by Phyllida Anam-Aire To learn more or to connect with Melissa, email her at stars- or visit www.starsbeyondourskin. com. She also welcomes your questions or ideas for future columns.

S ometimes I’m asked what to do when someone we love is actively dying and the message ‘there’s nothing more that can be done’ has been received. As an end of life doula, I’m led moment to mo- ment by individuals and those who are part of their circle of care. So while the suggestions here are non-exhaustive, may they serve as inspiration and a reminder of what I believe we inherently know. Being versus doing Now is the time for presence around what’s happening, to be attentive to the dying person; perhaps to sit vigil. Someone once told me that dying is not an emergency and for a moment END OF LIFE MATTERS Melissa Murphy End of life Doula Melissa Murphy, a companion, guide and resource supporting our community in end of life matters.

Tending to the space When I did my first end of life doula training, we were present- ed with an inquiry to visualise our deathbed and imagine how we’d like the space to be; considering all the senses. Mine included minimal visitors, my dogs close by, a few personal objects – such as a photo and earthy candle, as I love the smell of pine, soft music with- out lyrics, or perhaps a chant/ prayer/or the sound of cello, the natural sounds made present by an open window, abundant silence. This might shift over time and, depending on where I am. With this in mind, what if anything might help to enhance the space or clear it? A friend

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