What is an End of Life Doula?
The word “Doula” has a long history, going back to Ancient Greece. Most people associate its use with the Natural Birth movement – empowering and supporting a mother to bring her baby into the world in the way wants and was meant to. So what is an End of Life or “Death Doula”?
The simplest explanation is that an End of Life Doula is someone who assists in preparing for and supporting individuals with the Death experience in the way that they desire and choose. This can occur at any stage of life, and in both healthy individuals and those diagnosed with an illness, at any stage.
Hiring an End of Life Doula does not mean you have resigned yourself to dying within a certain time frame, or that death is imminent. You could find yourself with what could be a terminal diagnosis, hire a Doula, and then find yourself in remission and no longer needing their services! An End of Life Doula is simply there to support you where you are at. It’s not “giving up” to ask for support with End of Life needs – it’s self care.
Death has become a sterlized, de-humanizing medical process that is disease centered, rather than person centered. It’s time that we empower ourselves to #normalizedeath, and create the legacy, experience, and transition that our soul desires. That’s what Death Doulas are here to help you with, in a nutshell!
My goal is to make death a natural, safe part of life, and the beautiful transition it can be when given the space to do so. As and End of Life Doula, I offer various supports to individuals in preparing for and accessing the palliative care they need during their end of life, experiencing their death in the way that they would like, and ensuring their post-humous wishes are met in the best way possible.
My services can include, but are not limited to:
- holding space and deeply listening*
- assisting in the development of Advance Care Plans (formerly called “Living Wills”)**
- brainstorming and action planning the legacy that clients would like left in their honour & memory (if you are interested in recording a musical legacy piece, see my project: “A Song to Remember“)
- helping clients in their planning and achievement of bucket list goals
- supporting clients during the initial stages of a terminal diagnosis
- facilitating family meetings
- informing clients on what they can expect from the medical system, and how to advocate for themselves***
- educating on what death may look and feel like, and what to expect when you or a loved one is dying
- assisting families who have experienced a sudden / unexpected death navigate this trauma in the gentlest way possible
- referring to helpful community resources when needed
I have various areas of additional special interest and expertise, including:
- Helping clients with Autism, sensory issues and developmental disabilities achieve the same comfort in their dying days that any other individual should, taking into account complex needs.
- Using music and sound to help reduce anxiety and achieve feelings of peace, including creating legacy musical pieces through A Song to Remember.
- Assisting clients in connecting with spiritual practitioners who may be able to provide support during End of Life. Ritual and tradition can be a powerful way of navigating Death, and I would love to help connect you to something that is meaningful to you. I am open to all beliefs and spiritualities, and would love to connect you with the supports and rituals you need to experience your Death in a spiritual way, should you so choose, and in whatever way you choose it.
I offer both an hourly rate and package services:
Advance Care Planning
A two hour session where I explain how to complete your forms, and we discuss how best to have your individual needs and wishes met for your medical care.**
You can book my services at an hourly rate without commitment, for a variety of services including family meetings, phone or video support, home visits & meet-ups, vigiling, and accompanying to appointments.
A one time fee for my consistent care through the time you hire me until time of passing, including regular meetings, telephone support, and postmortem bereavement support for family. Packages are tailored to meet your individual needs and timeline.
With every potential client, I like to sit down in person if possible, free of charge, and talk about what you are looking for in a Doula, and how I can meet those needs. This way, you can get a good feel for my personality and style, and your intuition can give you a good sense of whether I’m the right Doula for you. If we don’t end up feeling it’s a good fit for you at this time, I am more than happy to refer you to someone who can better meet your needs.
Contact me to book your free consult!
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* I am not a certified Counsellor. I am able to deeply listen, hold space and reflect your thoughts and feelings throughout our professional relationship, and have a rich background in holding space for those who need it. Ideally, if preparations are made and support is in place, natural Death includes a healthy period of grieving and a disruption of life as we know it – which is 100% normal and valid. However, not all Deaths occur in this way, and their may at times be unusual or extensive trauma involved. In these cases, I may suggest a Counsellor, Psychologist, Support Group, or other community resource if you are in need of more expansive mental wellness services (as we ALL at some point may be in need of, with absolutely zero shame).
** I do not write Wills / Advanced Care Plans or prepare legal documents for you, however I will assist you to the best of my ability in understanding and undertaking that process for yourself. I am not qualified to give specific legal advice, only to provide reasonable guidelines for completing certain documents within my breadth of knowledge. Final completion of a Will or an Enduring Power of Attorney requires either a notary or lawyer.
*** I do not provide medical advice, administer medicines or treatments, or advise on which types of medical care you should pursue, or the decisions you should make. I merely provide you all of the information I have, and allow you to undertake any medical decisions yourself. I am not a nurse or medical practitioner, and can not be a substitute for their services!