2020: Reflections, Transitions, and Intentions
We began this journey in May of 2018 with an unconventional idea and a leap of faith. Our community of friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues in end of life care rallied behind us, encouraging us forward.
Our trajectory changed, however, in March of 2019, when Yvette and Eve came to us seeking support in Yvette’s recent terminal diagnosis. In order to accommodate their needs ahead of our organization’s formation, and our house’s readiness, we were forced to look at alternative ways to make a comfortable home death a reality with limited resources. That’s when we realized that the answer was in front of us the whole time: cohousing. We already had housemates who were helping to cover the expenses of daily living. Eve was already taking on the responsibility of caregiving for her wife, Yvette. They just lacked a physical space suitable for her changing needs. And so, for eight months, we shared space with Eve and Yvette, assisting with occasional physical needs, shared meals, and leisure activities, as you would with a family member.
Following Yvette’s death in late October, our role as housemates shifted to holding space for Eve in her loss, grief, and identifying a new path forward. As of this writing, she continues to live with us. Unlike the traditional profit-centered medical model, there is no urgency to turn over her room, as nothing has changed financially for the house in Yvette’s death — the room is still being rented, just as it was in March, June, October. This allows for grieving within the support of community until it’s no longer needed, a process that will likely be different for everyone.
In late December, we were granted 501c3 Non-Profit status for Holding Space for Living and Dying. The culmination of the aforementioned experience and achieving this milestone sets us on a fresh path for 2020. In addition, we are asking for contemplation from our current housemates regarding their commitment to our next chapter. This model of end of life care works best when responsibilities are shared, interpersonal dynamics are cohesive, and ideals are aligned.