Xanthippi de Vito
My name is Xanthippi de Vito, I’m a health coach, end-of-life doula and grief support specialist. I work with understanding the needs of the dying and supporting families in a time of transition.
The most common thing I experience that’s preventing people from dying peacefully is unresolved relationships. It’s never about things, it’s about people, interactions and connections.
I’ve created a mental health facilitation studio named Post Service where I work to destigmatize discussions around mental health, death and grief. These are topics that everybody struggles with and they’re such a source of judgment in society. Social media has a lot to do with this problem. The way people present themselves is focused on stagnancy and the idea that you have to be an image. We’re rarely presented for people in motion, regarding their energy. And mental health is not like that. Mental health is complex, it’s beautiful and it’s dynamic.
YOU HAVE TO DIE IF YOU WANT TO LIVE
So get used to that and unpack it for yourself. What does it mean for you to live? And what does it mean for you to die? By looking closely at death, you’ll have a more intimate relationship with the quality of your life, and you’ll be better at living. Society is so busy telling people what’s important instead of asking them. But, how do you define success? How do you define quality of life? You know what is best for you, and I’m here to make space for you.
MOST PEOPLE DEAL WITH A PAST THAT HAS NEVER BEEN ADDRESSED
My parents died when I was young. My mum died from breast cancer when I was 13. My dad died when I was 25, two months after I gave birth to my daughter. My mum’s family tried to address her death with me, but they were very religious and it didn’t sit well with me. The whole “be strong, God never gives you more than you can handle”-conversation, I couldn’t handle that. There’s a taboo around these types of discussions, we don’t know how to talk about death. So when someone is grieving and you say “be strong” what you are really saying to them is: “Please fix this, because your pain is making me uncomfortable”.
I ended up spending a lot of time alone as a child trying to understand what it all meant, and I didn’t know what to do with my grief. So my grief became manic. I stole my mom’s car when I was 13. I drove it very fast down a dirt road, the bottom went out, the oil popped and I was stuck in the middle of the highway. I was completely out of sorts. I had no stability, I had no ground, I felt like I was jelly. All because my grief was not addressed.
Most people deal with a past that has never been addressed and there is a lot of pain in that. If only we were better at offering help to people, we would have a different society. People wouldn’t carry their wounds for so long, because they would be heard. There is an incorrect assumption that grief is linear. It is not - you fluctuate throughout your life. You are never healed.
BE CURIOUS ABOUT GRIEF
If someone close to you has lost someone or something they love, you can grieve the loss with them. You can ask permission to see and hear about their grief and be curious. People usually do the opposite; they make grief nice and pretty, wrap it up and put it in the closet. Instead, ask to see what it is like to be in pain. Look at the ugly stuff. And when they answer, do not give advice. Just hold space and let them talk.
Listening is a collective need right now. When you are listening, pay even more attention to the moment when you stop listening. That moment will tell you everything you need to know about why you need to listen.
MEET OTHERS WITH KINDNESS
Carrying kindness means remembering that everybody has a story you know nothing about. If you can carry that awareness with you, you will inherently meet someone with kindness. Because you have no idea what their struggles are, what they have lost in their life.