Death doula – soul doula – end-of-life doula – death midwife – death companion – thanadoula – end of life guide – all of these terms point in the same direction and share a similar meaning. The word ‘doula’ comes from the ancient Greeks, meaning = ‘woman’s servant’ and/or ‘a woman who serves.’ So friends, what is a death doula and what do they do?
Thankfully today death doulas can be men as well! Shortly after completing an intense, but truly inspiring, three-day end-of-life doula training course with The International End-of-Life Doula Association (INELDA), I had friends, family, neighbors and everyone in between ask me between scrunched faces, “A death what?”
‘Wait, what does doula mean again?”
“Is it something like a baby doula?”
I had to giggle because yes, there were many parallels between baby and death doulas. A profound synergy, actually. The dance of birth and the dance of death forever co-existing – they are never apart.
It is important to point out that there is an on-going movement unfolding across the United States (and beyond) where people are re-imagining hwt death can look like for, and be experienced by, themselves and their loved ones. They are searching for a more holistic approach to end-of-life care, and the emergence of death doulas has coincided with this trend. A death doula is just one of the growing number of ‘roles’ one can explore in the end-of-life space. If you are feeling called to work with the dying and their families, becoming a death doula is one pathway leading in.
A death doula…
1. Works in the field of death and dying
2. Can enter the picture before, during, or after death, to help guide the dying and their loved
ones through the process
3. Provides non-medical, emotional, physical, and psychological support
4. Can act as a bridge between the health-care and death-care teams
5. Meets the dying and their families where they are / and never pushes an agenda
6. Provides a calm, loving, authentic presence
7. Creates a safe space for whatever is going to organically happen
8. Can be gifted at opening the conversation up around death and loss, thus helping the dying and their loved ones navigate unfamiliar territory and undressing one of the least understood moments of our lives (the end)
9. May offer a variety of additional services including massage, reiki healing, essential oil therapy, etc etc
10. Can provide resources and share referrals (ie: to funeral directors, green burial practitioners, crematories, cemeteries)
11. Can volunteer or be paid for their services
12. When paid, acts as an independent contractor
I hope this little post has been helpful, Beloveds. Stay tuned for more on death, dying and the joyful, emerging world of end-of-life services, in upcoming posts!