In this episode of “Lives With a Mission” we connected with Thanatologist Gaby Godoy. A Thanatologist is an academic student of dying, death, grief, and their effects on people and society. She shared some of her beautiful knowledge with us and a powerful message for us all.
About thanatology, tell us more about this practice.
We are holistic. Our biological, mental, spiritual, emotional, and social parts; we are all of that. And when there is a significant loss, all of that is altered. There is an imbalance, confusion, a lot of implications in our being. We accompany individuals, families, health personnel in these processes. We team up with social workers, doctors, nurses, patients, and family members in clinical settings and with people who want us to accompany them in this process.
What can you teach us to better contribute as a community and raise awareness of the right way to support others, what to say without being hurtful?
More than talking, listening is more important. Listening in a loving, empathetic way lets us know what this person needs.
How could we handle fear? What would be the tools that thanatology provides?
Fear is natural. When we face a threat, it activates our most primitive brain, the reptile brain. Alarms go off, and either I attack, run, or freeze. With news like these, that brain is now active as a natural response of fear towards a threat.
But it’s not our only brain. Then comes our most advanced brain, our prefrontal cortex, that tells me, okay, what’s my real threat? What can I do? I like a prayer that helps to lower the fear levels:
In the face of a threat like this, there are things that I can control and others I cannot; this is when we turn to hope and faith. What is not in my control I leave; what is, I act.
What inspired you, what took you, or how was that road getting here? What gave you the power to have this blessing in your life and help people that were teachers to you?
It’s been a beautiful road that came later in my life. It came at the right time. When I arrived in Mexico, I studied for a Diploma in Logotherapy. One of the courses was about death, suffering, and blame. It was the first time I learned the word “thanatology”. It was the missing piece!
I later discovered the Mexican Association of Tanatología and studied there while I volunteered at children’s hospitals. Every time I was more and more convinced that this is what I love and want to do. Those were beautiful moments. I’m very grateful for my teachers and let them know every moment I can.
What advice would you give these women going through this critical time where their hair falls out? How could you accompany them through this window that is our community?
Look for support networks. It’s easy to feel like we are alone against the world in a process like that. Create networks; it doesn’t have to be the person closest to you. Some people are far away who support more than those next to us. Expect the unexpected.
Be open to receiving support and love. We don’t always know what can heal us, but we need to be open to receiving that support. There will be those who do not know how to support, simply say to those people, with much love "this thing that you’re telling me isn’t right for me right now."
It has a lot to do with building a wall and the risk we take with that wall on our emotions. We risk being in a constant battle against everything and not enjoying life.
Cultivating gratitude is fundamental. When we go through difficult times we naturally focus on what we lack. When I give thanks, I put in perspective everything that reminds me of how blessed I am, and I can find a balance, that’s why gratitude is fundamental. I also recommend having a gratitude diary to write 3 to 5 little things I was grateful for today.
If you want to learn more and hear the full interview, check out the link below.