I have never heard of an End-of-life Doula. Where did this all come from?
Historically, women have cared for the dying. Around the time of the Civil War when embalming and the funeral industry began to emerge, women were gradually replaced (Wikipedia). This was followed by the development of nursing homes and other more impersonal ways of caring for the terminally ill.
Adding to these cultural changes, in today’s society both men and women work long hours making it impossible for them to administer the attention and care that a dying family member requires. Thus, the need for an almost-surrogate family member who can step in and share the role on a very personal, yet professional, level emerged.
The profession of EOL doulas began to around the late 1960s, providing both men and women carrying within their souls a “call to serve” the opportunity to do so.
This article from U. S. News Report describes this emergence beautifully:
AARP also provides interesting information:
What services does an EOL doula offer?
An EOL doula is a non-medical person helps the dying and their families navigate that very personal emotional, spiritual and physical experience.
An EOL doula works closely loved ones and other caregivers in supporting your loved one throughout this mystical yet very human experience.
The medical, emotional and spiritual journey from sickness to death has many twists, turns and pressures. Assisting the client in dying on his/her own terms and re-gaining control over a life passage for which there is little control is the doula’s goal.
What is included in EOL doula training?
The EOL doula is trained in many areas. Among them are:
- Gently uncovering the client wishes;
- Sensitively supporting the client in working through fears and anxieties,
- Providing a listening but neutral ear if conflict arises,
- Leading in guided imagery, visualizations and breathing exercises, when appropriate,
- Coordinating care with all involved agencies, if needed,
- Planning and sitting vigil with the family,
- Other needs you may have can be negotiated.
What Training Does an EOL Doula Have?
Quality training for service as an end-of-life includes:
- Deep instruction dying and death;
- Group dynamics;
- Building rapport;
- Guided personal meditation;
- Deep listening;
- Signs and symptoms of the body’s decline.
Holding a certificate from a reputable training program is important for you, the consumer of EOL doula services, to require because it means the doula has more than a good heart but also knowledge and training about the unique and painful stressors dying and death bring into the family.
Doula and Instructor, Deanna Cochran, reminds her students that “we are a companion, a witness, a person who comes into the family during this sacred, but exhausting, painful, confusing time and becomes a grounding force – a witness.”
How are you different from Hospice – or are you?
The end-of-life doulas at Transforming the Journey hope you have called hospice. If not, we’ll present their services to you and encourage – not require – you to enlist their support.
Doulas are a complementary service when Hospice is involved. We work in conjunction with – not in competition with. Except in rare exceptions, an EOL doula has deeper and more intense schooling involving many more training hours than a Hospice volunteer.
Hospice offers valuable medical services paid for by Medicare. EOL doulas are private pay with the fee depending on the doula.
We are each excellent and unique in what we offer. We both work lovingly for the good of the client and his/her family – ALWAYS.
What geographic areas do you service?
In Illinois: Madison, Jersey, Macoupin, Bond, Clinton & St. Clair Counties
In Missouri: St. Louis County
If you live outside of these areas, please contact me. It will be my privilege to help you locate a doula from your area.
What if I still have a question?
I have an answer! And if I don’t, I will find the answer for you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-806-6116 with any questions you may have.