About Me

life is too short for denials and too damn long for regrets

-unknown

Welcome to Good Mourning!

I’m Bree Crutchfield and from a young age, I’ve been captivated by the concept of death—not in a macabre, horror movie sense, but in a way that seeks peace and understanding. Out of this fascination, the Good Mourning End of Life Doula was born, driven by my personal desire for a good death.

Death with dignity, having a ‘good death,’ if it’s within my grasp, is of the utmost importance to me. Until I am closing the final chapter of my own life, my mission is to extend that desire to others, helping them navigate both a good death and a meaningful…a good mourning process for themselves and their loved ones through communication and education.

The impetus for my journey into end-of-life care came from the profound impact of a beloved friend in the ’90’s. I was unaware at the time but I was doula’g my friend ‘Wanna. I visited ‘Wanna bi-weekly to style her hair and a friendship was established. I remember her being hospitalized with pneumonia, in the summer time. That was unusual to me, but I was eager for her to come home. Shortly after discharge, I came over to do her hair and noticed she looked…different. Her skin had broke out in pustules. I didn’t pry until weeks later, after she looked to have dropped a SIGNIFICANT amount of weight in a short time. I knew she was sick but I assumed it was cancer.

I continued to spend time with ‘Wanna. She had lost so much weight, that I helped carry her upstairs to her room. She continued to lose weight and lost sight in one eye. What kind of cancer was this?! I remember calling to check on her, and she said she was starving. I asked what she wanted to eat and she replied, ‘junk food.’ She was prescribed medicine that was reminiscent of cough syrup to stimulate her appetite and boy did it work! I arrived at her house ladened with 2 bags full of junk food. ‘Wanna devoured one bag and I laughed heartily, until the contents of her stomach began to spew. I remember being confused at what I witnessed and ‘Wanna being embarrassed. I assured her it was ok and I proceed to clean her up, get her in bed and then I cleaned her kitchen. I was HONORED to be in service to her!

About a month later, ‘Wanna was hospitalized once again with pneumonia. This time, I insisted on visiting her. ‘Wanna vehemently declined my offer via her sister. A few days later, she passed away. It was then that I learned, ‘Wanna passed away from complications of AIDS, not cancer I had previously surmised. I was relieved not at her passing but at the fact I was THERE for her! The ’90s was not that much different from the ’80s as far as opinions towards HIV and AIDS diagnoses and the patients who had to live out their lives with these diagnoses

Nothing changed. If I had to do it all over again, I would have. I would have taken care of her, I would have taken her to use the bathroom. I would have cleaned her up again after vomiting and put her in the bed. I would have loved her and been there wholeheartedly. I miss her so much and it’s been 30 years since she’s been gone but what an indelible impression she left upon my heart.

That experience and the experience of losing my aunt, ignited a passion in me to have a good death and a good mourning. That is particularly true for dementia patients and the LGBTQIA community. Watching my grandmother’s struggle with Alzheimer’s disease and my 7-year same sex relations have deepened my commitment to inclusive care for all, especially marginalized communities.

My grandmother, Ms. Marie

In my work, inclusivity is paramount. Whether you identify with a specific religion or none at all, whether you’re part of the LGBTQIA community or not, and no matter where you fall on the spectrum in between, my commitment is unwavering. If your pronouns are important to you, they are important to me. Your pronouns are not just respected; they are honored, as are your unique traditions.

Join me on this journey toward a good death, where compassion, understanding, and inclusivity pave the way for a peaceful transition. I’m located in Washtenaw County, MI and I look forward to walking with you every step of the way.

Warmly,

Bree Crutchfield