Category Archives: Death Doula
Many of us will be aware of doulas serving as birth attendant: someone who acts in support of a birthing mother, but a doula– the name comes from the ancient Greek and could be translated as “woman who serves” – can also be of assistance to those leaving the world.
Sometimes called an End of Life Companion or Soul Midwife, a Death Doula sits vigil with dying individuals, providing a continuous and compassionate presence through the final hours. A death doula or soul midwife honours the sacred nature of the dying process as a natural part of the cycle of life and helps individuals achieve a “good death”.
Few of us plan for the moment of our death. For terminally ill patients and their families, this important step can help to ease anxiety as the end draws near.
Too often when a person is actively dying they and the people taking care of them are mostly, if not entirely, alone. The doula meets a need at the most crucial moment. The dying process can take days to unfold, and that can be incredibly difficult and stressful.
Doulas meet with the individual and their families approximately three times beforehand to develop an individualised vigil plan that specifies their wishes for the time of death. It is different for everyone, some people want their hand held while others may want to be left alone. Do they want music, or silence or something read to them? Are there objects they want near, such as a collection of photos? Do they want specific items such as bedding or blankets? These are just a few of the things doulas can take into consideration when writing the plan.
The vigil plan also includes specific relaxation techniques to support both the dying and their caregivers, including guided visualisation and complementary therapies, and rituals to be performed after the individual has passed on. In the planning stages, the doulas also work with the family to help them through the process. Read More…