What is a Death Doula
Like a Birth Doula – a non-medical person who is there to help the person who is dying or the family (or both) with Planning and emotional and/or practical support through the process. Not a replacement for a hospice nurse or doctor, not a lawyer either. A person to provide loving care and companionship and general planning assistance to the client or even to be a witness if it that is what someone wants while they are preparing for the end of their life.
When someone has received a terminal diagnosis – often the family has already begun the grieving process and the Doula can be there to listen, to help with planning of things like funeral services, postmortem actions, helping to organize things like personal papers, making lists of what things the client wants to have occur. Such as making a list of who to contact for different things, where lists of email addresses, passwords, bills are so that whoever might be having to take over those things can access the info. A doula can also assist with legacy projects, helping plan who to call, even clearing up household clutter if requested. Lastly, the Doula may only need to be an outside person, sort of a neutral party, to speak to about anything to avoid adding to the grief or stress of the family and friends.
A Death Doula must leave their own personal views on things at the door so that the client, their thoughts, and beliefs are the focus of all interactions. The idea is to help a person be able to experience their best possible death. When they are to the point of active dying, do they want to have any special scents (candles or oils) in the room, or flowers, something else? Would they want some special sounds like recorded music, or maybe someone sings a favorite song, or hums the tune, or says a prayer or a chant? In this situation, what would provide someone the most comfort, allow them to feel peaceful?
I think that a lot of attention is paid to birth and most of anyone’s life, but little thought is often given to the end of life. Everyone will one day die, and it seems like even though it is a universal experience most people are very disconnected from the process of dying. Even afraid to think about it or discuss it. The family and friends must try to come up with funeral plans and figure out how to get all sorts of things worked out while deep in the early stages of the grief from the death of their loved one. I have assisted in the care and even sat vigil in the past for some of own family. I was grateful to be able to do that. I feel like I can help others with this process to hopefully reduce the stress and sadness and even fear. To those affected by the death process to have more peaceful time to prepare themselves, to say goodbye, and then to grieve without the added burdens having to figure all those details out after.
I would be honored to provide any of these services to someone if they needed and/or wanted it.