“What is an end of life (death) doula?”
An End of Life (Death) Doula is a non-medical person who helps someone who is dying, as well as their family. They lend a helping hand by assisting with emotional, spiritual and physical aid through the dying process. They offer support to the be bereaved.
Ever since I was a little girl I often wondered why no one talked about death. Even at a young age I knew that people died (and animals).
As I got older I questioned as to why death wasn’t a subject in high school. We were taught many subjects, but never were we offered a class on death. We all know we are going to die one day. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. So why is this inevitable event in our life so ignored? Why is it such a taboo subject to talk about?
Boy, did I need that education when both my dad and mom died! I always felt that their deaths weren’t “as good” as they could have been. I wish I knew then, what I know now, after being enrolled in an online End Of Life (Death) Doula Certification Course.
My dad died in 1995 from lung cancer. The only thing that was mentioned is that he wanted to be buried with his mom and dad. A few months before his death my siblings and I went through a time of chaos because of a DNR order, or lack of one, depending on what side you were on.
My two brothers were set on our dad wanting a DNR order, my sister and I were just as adamant that he didn’t want one. One day we were all at the hospital visiting my dad who had been admitted due to fluid around his heart. A nurse came in and mentioned that my dad kept changing the DNR order and wanted to know what should be written in his chart. This started a real loud argument between the four of us. Right in front of our dad! Not our finest moment, that’s for sure!
Come to find out our dad had been telling us conflicting stories. This probably would have never happened had someone, like an End Of Life (Death) Doula been involved.
My mom died in 2011 from CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia). Boy do I wish I could have a do over with her end of life journey. Don’t get me wrong, she died at home as she wanted. She had children and grandchildren around her. The morphine helped the pain. But what I have learned from just the few weeks I have been in the end of life (death) doula course is that there were things that could have helped in giving her a more peaceful transition.
So many things, many little things, that would matter at the end, were never talked about. So we were left to make decisions I think my mom should have made. None of us ever thought about using music, candles or aroma therapy to help ease her stress and anxiety. We’d never experienced being with someone who was dying before.
I recently read in the book, Caring for the Dying (The Approach to a Meaningful Death) by Henry Fersko-Weiss, a really great idea. He mentions cooking or baking something so that the aroma would create a calming effect for the dying person and bring about wonderful memories.
End Of Life (Death) Doulas do not eliminate the need for Hospice. The difference between the two is that Hospice provides medical care. End of Life (Death) Doulas work in conjunction with the Hospice program.
Many may think that becoming an End of Life (Death) Doula is morbid. I don’t see it like that. I see it as helping to ease the most devastating, overwhelming and inevitable part of the cycle of life.
I am a few weeks away from obtaining my certificate as an End Of Life (Death) Doula. After, I have other educational goals, such as classes to become a Pet End Of Life (Death) Doula and obtaining some hands on training by volunteering for Hospice, before I start my business.
Would really love to connect with other End Of Life (Death) Doulas or anyone who may be interested in this field. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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