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What's a Death Doula and why hire one?
A death doula is a person who assists with the dying process, much like a birth doula but on the opposite spectrum. They help individuals and families identify life and care priorities while aiming to normalize death by helping families cope with and recognize its important and natural process in our lives. The roles of a death doula can supplement and work alongside hospice by filling in gaps of care and supporting the wishes of family while honoring and respecting medical personnel. Psycho-social-spiritual support before and after death, creating death plans, and legacy work are some examples of what death doulas can provide. Logistical avenues of help can be provided, such as advanced directives, funerals and memorials planning, as well as guiding and advocating for individuals/families about the rights they have for death care before, during and after.
Despite how nuanced and commercialized the death movement becomes, death doulas have been around since human beings have existed, only fading out with the rise of embalming practices that took place around the civil war era and the booming funeral industries that moved in to capitalize them. Because of this, death customs and practices within the immediate family soon vanished. Nowadays most people have very little, if any experience in interacting with death and dying.
My intention as a death doula is to reawaken the empowerment of families through promoting family-led, home-based care. By reconnecting people with the historical, ancestral, and sacred death practices of caring for their own, we align that much more with the very truth of what it means to authentically live as deeply as we can while recognizing that we are not separate from the seasons of existence.
How a Doula Can Help
The presence of an End of Life Doula offers support in many ways:
~80% of people do not want to die alone. Hiring a doula increases the possibility of that wish being fulfilled. This often eases guilt if a loved one is absent during active dying.
~Relieve stress and the pressures of burdensome tasks
~Provides information about what to expect with active dying
~Gives caregivers space to feel, grieve, love, and rest
~Increase options for family who do not know what to do or say in the presence of suffering and dying
~Assist families and loved ones to focus on what is most important to them. Doulas can assist in working with grief, forgiveness, creating ceremony or ritual, and bringing healing practices to the sacred process of dying before, during, and after death.
~Honor and help carry out the beliefs, cultures, practices and values of all involved.
~Advocates for rights and wishes of the dying when philosophical and systemic medical hurdles appear
What a death doula is not: a hospice nurse, licensed doctor of any sort or registered medical presence. Therefore, I do not diagnose or assist with medical issues.
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