Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Body, Soul, Spirit Healing for Those Approaching Death: Narrative Research into a Sacred Feminine Perspective on End-of-Life Care, a Healing Deathbed via a Body-Soul-Spirit Positionality Paradigm
by Zimmermann, Denise Marie, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2018, 301; 13421924
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation considers the characteristics of a sacred feminine perspective toward death and dying in today’s United States. A sacred feminine perspective as brought to the deathbed by women healers respects the sanctity of life; intuitively adopts a holistic perspective; and witnesses, not observes, the dying through active engagement on physical, psychological, and spiritual levels. A sacred feminine perspective affirms the dying person’s journey as one of self-acceptance and release. To explore this perspective’s healing power, I pose the following question: How can end-of-life caregiving and religious perspectives on dying be integrated toward a spiritual feminist perspective to create a new paradigm of care for the dying person?

To answer this inquiry, I explored from a phenomenological perspective the stories from end-of-life caregivers, primarily in the United States, as well as literature from other healing modalities to develop a framework that may be used by those assisting the dying. The methodologies I utilized for this study are women’s spiritual ways of knowing, including spiritual feminist hermeneutics. In my research, I applied narrative analysis—integrating organic and intuitive inquiry methods—to relevant literature, including stories from end-of-life caregivers about the types of care used in their work, as well as their interpretations of the dying persons’ experiences. This methodological integration allowed me to achieve a more nuanced understanding of the human experience of dying, and to develop and enhance skillful means for the sacred work of midwifing death.

In this theoretical study, I propose a model called the Body-Soul-Spirit Positionality Paradigm, which holds that each person lives as well as dies primarily through one of three dimensions of self: the body, the soul (defined here as feelings and thoughts), or the spirit. A major objective of this dissertation is the development and illustration of the Body-Soul-Spirit Positionality Paradigm as a practical/theoretical framework for addressing the specific physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual needs of the dying person to help them truly rest in peace.

By understanding the dying person’s positionality, the end-of-life doula will be able to provide personalized access to effective healing modalities such as the implementation of positionality blessing cards.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Keller, Mara L.
Commitee: Anderson, Megory, Christie, Lisa M.
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Philosophy and Religion with a Concentration on Women's Spirituality
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 80/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Philosophy, Womens studies, Spirituality
Keywords: Dying, Healing, Holistic, Hospice, Perspective, Spirituality
Publication Number: 13421924
ISBN: 9780438762176
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