What is an End of Life or Death Doula?
When you hear the word, doula, it is commonly associated with birth as in — birth doula. But a doula, generally speaking, is a trained non-medical professional companion who supports an individual through a significant health-related experience. A birth doula helps the mom-to-be deliver a baby into the world through the birthing process, whereas a death doula or end of life doula, helps transition a person into death through the dying process. The same care, attention, and loving support is given to the individual going through the process, as well as their loved ones to assist them in making death an easy and graceful transition.
An end of life doula or death doula takes a calming and comforting approach to their work, focusing on the emotional, spiritual, mental, physical, and psychological needs of the dying. This focus also allows for education and clarifying their wishes, plan of care, and overall support.
The death doula can work with the dying on forms such Advanced Directives (written support for end of life), POLST forms (legal medical form informing healthcare team wishes such as CPR, Tube Feeding, etc.), and Plan of Care. The doula can also facilitate programs such as Best Three Months, an educational class that focuses on the five domains that were mentioned earlier for life review, wishes, and forgiveness.
A doula can be there to support the dying by comforting them and using rituals such as lighting candles, reading meaningful poems or books, using anointing oils and praying with the dying and their loved ones. A doula can help guide those around the person dying in understanding how to better connect to one another during the dying process including preparing for the inevitability of death. The doula’s compassion during this time can provide the necessary approach to help ease this grief surrounding this life event.
During the last few weeks to days of death, the end of life doula can help provide companionship to the dying while the family, friends, and other caregivers can take a break, run errands, and provide the needed self care during this time. Vigiling is also a service the end of life doula can provide — where the doula can sit quietly at the bedside also incorporating some rituals as mentioned above or work on legacy work, life review questions, and or letters to family members and loved ones. This can be educating them and empowering these relationships to say goodbye, “I’m sorry” and “I love you.”
A death doula, can offer support during the sacred moments after death. This work may include caring for the body, including rituals, such as washing the body with oils, wrapping the body in shrouds, and/or singing songs, lighting candles, and arranging a certain vehicle to carry the body to the next destination.
An end of life doula can be part of the dying process at any stage of death as well as a great educator to the family and empower the dying to advocate to the medical teams. By building a relationship with the dying individual and their loved ones, the End of Life Doula is aware of the individual’s needs and wishes thereby creating an end of life journey that can be filled with love, joy, beauty, and grace.
Gentle Passage Doula Collective has End of Life/Death Doulas for you to work with at any stage of the dying process. Connect with us to start your journey for a positive end of life experience.
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Gentle Passage Doula Collective
The tools, resources and information does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only, not advice or guarantee of outcome. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the Gentle Passage Doula Collective Website, downloaded resources and/or educational material, or misinterpreted the information/context/educational sessions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911. Gentle Passage Doula Collective and its members are not responsible for errors and omissions in reporting or explanation. No individuals, including those under our active care, should use the information, resources or tools contained within to self-diagnosis or self-treat any health-related condition. Gentle Passage Doula Collective gives no assurance or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness or applicability or the content.