Death Doulas: A Friend for the End
Death Doula Services
What is a Death Doula?
Alternative or holistic pan-death care can be understood as the care of dying people, their family, and support network. It is a small but steadily growing practice in Canada, the United States, and beyond, rooted in the value that death is an integral and honoured part of life that is healthy to connect with and offers a doorway to meaning-making. This care spans the 7 stages of the pan-death journey, and is distinct from, but often in partnership with members of the medical community and other mortality-related professions. At Persephone Passages, we support Death Doulas whose primary goal is to ensure that someone who is on, or approaching their deathbed - the Death Journeyer - dies with a peaceful mind, and that their community of family and caregivers is supported logistically and emotionally before and after the death of their loved one. This includes ensuring that final affairs are taken care of prior to death, and that the Death Journeyer has the support and resources to die at home, if they so choose. Additionally, if a home funeral (a "wake" or "lying-in") is desired, family and caregivers are guided through the process of bathing, dressing, and preparing the body of their loved one; creating memorial art/altars/spaces for reflection; facilitate grief integration through talking circles, meditation, and somatic experiencing techniques including yoga or mindful movement; act as celebrant for the funeral and/or memorial service; and advise on both traditional and green options for the disposition of remains.
What are the benefits of working with a Death Doula?
Because care providers such as medical doctors, hospice and palliative care workers, grief counsellors, spiritual advisors, and funeral home directors work separately in offering their services to the public, utilizing a Death Doula's skills and knowledge can ensure that the wishes of the Death Journeyer and those who love them are honoured throughout all stages of the pan-death journey. Particularly in complex situations where communication poses a challenge, it is extremely useful to have a Death Doula mediate between individual service providers and the Death Journeyer and their caregivers, to ensure that their needs and wishes are met. In short, a Death Doula is a helping hand, non-judgemental ear, and organized mind who takes responsibility for arranging necessary paperwork and other details required to allow the Death Journeyer and those who love them to fully experience the pan-death journey in the way that feels right for them.