Life is Good. Death is Not Bad.
Today is National Death Doula Day. “OK, what the heck is a Death Doula?” you may well ask. If you’ve heard of Doulas at all, you probably think of them as companions who support women through the birthing experience and care for new babies. But increasingly, Doulas are there to care for us at the other end of life, and the movement has really taken off during the pandemic.
A Death Doula is a trained non-medical companion who supports others through the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual experiences involved with leaving this life. They’re trained in end-of-life stages and help families understand the natural processes, while providing comfort and practical support, 24/7. They are sometimes called Soul Midwives, Transition Guides, or End-of-Life Coaches. Whatever you call them, they can fill the gaps in mainstream medical and hospice care.
Death used to be revered as a sacred part of the life journey. It’s only within the last century that we’ve stopped accepting the end of life as a natural component of our lives. Western culture doesn’t like to talk about it or hear about it, so when death visits our lives, we are often completely unprepared. Denial and avoidance make death and grief far more difficult for patients and family members.
I’ve taken some training in this field and am considering doing more. It takes a deep commitment, as you can imagine, but it seems to be a place I am naturally gifted and called. I’m pondering and praying about it. These words from Suzanne O’Brien, who trains Death Doulas, really resonate with me:
“End of life is a human experience — not a medical one. With the right education, kindness, and support, end of life can be the sacred, positive experience it was meant to be.”
Today is a day set aside to bring awareness to the field and to the benefits it offers patients and families. So I thought I’d share. Here are a few articles and a podcast that give some history and an overview of the movement: