What is an End-of-Life Doula?

An End-of-life Doula provides a dying individual and their family support and resources during the sacred process around the time of transition.  They are guides and witnesses who offer comfort, warmth, and direction during an emotional and possibly frightening time. They promote “a good dying experience as is defined by the dying person and those most intimately involved in the process” -International End Of Life Doula Association. They “recognize death as a natural, accepted, and honored part of life” (Doulagivers).

A professional doula can:

  • Make suggestions to optimize comfort

  • Help identify an answer to “What matters to me at the end of life is…”

  • Advocate for a good death encouraging the days be faced with dignity, clarity, and intentionality

  • Help identify patient’s wishes and goals throughout the experience

  • Explain the signs of death to loved ones

  • Help develop empowering end of life plans

  • Assist with planning a home vigil

  • Assist with completion of advanced directives and other paperwork

 

** An EOL doula does not provide any medical services, advice, or information

 

 

A beautiful website, Farewelling, describes the work of EOLDs as:

“They are guides and assistants.  Death doulas (also known as end of life doulas) are helpers who assist people while they are actively going through the dying process.  Doulas are generally not medically trained, so they don’t provide healthcare services.  Rather, they are there to offer comfort and warmth, to explain what’s happening, and to support the person who is dying, as well as their family.  Many would call them a calming, even uplifting presence in a chaotic, emotional, and often frightening time.

Doulas elevate and improve the experience of dying. Some have a focused process but every situation is unique, so they often tailor their work to suit the needs and preferences of the individual and the family.  They might offer companionship and reassurance through reading or ritual.  They might shift the light or furniture in a room or add candles or scent to create a sacred space.  They might cite poetry or philosophy or help create legacy gifts or notes for loved ones.  They might lead guided visuals or meditations to help with stress and anxiety. “

https://www.myfarewelling.com/lately/what-is-a-death-doula

 

Doulagivers provides additional information and clarity on the role:

“Death Doulas can:

  • Help create positive, empowering end of life plans;

  • Provide spiritual care, psychological and social support;

  • Suggest ideas for optimal physical comfort;

  • Help plan home vigils; and

  • Educate patients and families on the new and progressive options of home wakes and natural burials.  –https://doulagivers.com/positive-passings/death-doula/

  • Death Doulas care for the whole person, taking into account patients’ emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical factors. They provide invaluable assistance in three notable areas of holistic support:

  • Legacy: We are all born and we all die; it’s what we do in the middle that creates our legacy. What we leave behind is far more than simply wealth and possessions. We can share our story or give wisdom, advice, love, and support even after we have passed. And in doing so, give the future a glimpse of your essence – who you were, how you saw the world, and what gave your life. Death Doulas can help patients with the powerful, uplifting process of developing a legacy plan.

  • Presence: The last phase of our life can stir fear and anxiety as we each face our end-of-life. This is simply because we have not walked this path before. Having someone present with the experience and training in such a time can bring a sense of comfort and familiarity to the otherwise unfamiliar. Death Doulas provide holistic support as they accompany individuals and their families before, during, and after death.

  • Dignity: Everyone wants to have a positive passing where they maintain dignity and honor as they exit life. We all have our own values, traditions, and belief systems that will influence our vision and expectation of what that would look like. Creating an environment that represents that vision is important. This along with developing a legacy and presence work, is what an End-of-Life Doula brings to you and your family”

https://doulagivers.com/positive-passings/death-doula/

 

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