End-of-life can be a stressful and frightening time – both for the individual, and their family and loved ones. As a Death Doula, I provide support for the dying and their family. It is my goal to bring peace, compassion, and comfort to those going through their end-of-life journey.
Death Doulas provide emotional, physical, and psychological support from diagnosis to death, and afterward
While medical staff focus on pain management, a Death Doula’s role is to offer comfort, knowledge and ease to the individual who is passing, and to the family and loved ones. And this is not for just a single moment or day in time. I am with individuals and families from diagnosis to death and beyond – it is truly an end-of-life process.
Mostly, I see my role as helping to ease anxiety and fear, and to infuse a sense of calm. I work with individuals and their families to plan for what is coming, and to provide education and awareness so that they understand what is happening at every stage of the dying process.
I also facilitate conversations about death and the dying process – these are topics that are often considered off-limits or taboo. Having these conversations can be uncomfortable for the person dying, and their families. But I am here to make it easier, and to share my experience and knowledge. I believe we must talk about death, and be prepared for it, because it’s by talking it through, and understanding it, that we can ease anxiety and fear.
In addition to planning, and building awareness of what’s to come, creating a meaningful legacy project – something that can be left behind such as words, images, video – is a great point of focus for the individual and their loved ones. And the creation is something that can then be shared with, and cherished by, current family members and future generations.
Dying is a spiritual journey
Death isn’t just a medical event; it’s a spiritual event as well. As a Death Doula, I speak openly with individuals to plan out what they want at the time of their death: we discuss their wishes, and how they would like to spend their final days and moments. Do they want to be in the hospital, a hospice, or at home during their final days? We also discuss the sensory experience: be it the music they want to hear, the images they want to see, or the people they want to have around them.
As death approaches, I aim to maintain a sense of calm for the one dying, and those around them, while creating the environment and rituals desired by the individual.
What happens after death?
When a loved one has passed, there can be a flurry of activity and tasks. Family and friends visit in the days and weeks after death, bringing food and condolences. Funeral, memorial or celebration of life services are planned. And when that comes to an end, a host of other emotions and tasks may present themselves – family and loved ones may find themselves experiencing a deeper sense of loss and sadness, and can be overwhelmed at the thought of managing the tasks before them.
This can be especially true when it comes to managing a loved one’s possessions – like clothing and household items – or the staging and selling of their home. These activities are suddenly on the to-do list at a time when feelings of sadness might be heightened. I work with families after death – by providing or sourcing emotional support and grief counselling, or helping to sort, organize, donate, or dispose of personal items, or preparing a house for sale.
At One Thread, we support individuals and families through all phases of the end-of-life journey. If you or someone you love has received a terminal diagnosis, we are here to support you. Contact us to learn more.