You may be familiar with a birth doula – women whose job it is to provide support and reassurance to expectant mothers.
Birth doulas gets to know their clients during pregnancy and labour and provide assistance after the baby is born.
What’s a death doula?
Death doulas, in contrast, reassure people at the end of their lives. They help clients and their families by being with them in the days and hours until their passing.
While research from Dying Matters Coalition showing that 68% of people would prefer to die at home, about half of us die in hospital.
It’s here that doulas can play a role. Doulas can meet emotional needs that a clinical care environment can’t provide, filling the gap between family and medical professionals.
In doing so, they’re able to help people cope better with death, dying and loss, whether they’re in a hospital or nursing home.
Doulas will help clients think about their end of life wishes, empower them to engage with everyday life during their last few days, and generally act as a mentor and advocate.
Are doulas medically trained?
And while they’re not medically trained, they will liaise with health professionals and support clients deal with complex emotions. They’ll explain what to expect, advise on available resources, and offer support to family and friends after death.
It can be especially important for those with no friends or family living nearby, as the fear of dying alone is so powerful – something that’s made more likely as life expectancy increases.
According to an article on death doulas in the Guardian, nurse and doula Teresa Letimier said that the most rewarding part of being a doula was being able to assist with final wishes.
“Nobody wants to die – it’s about allowing them to live life the best way they can with an illness,” she told The Guardian.
For more information on end-of-life doulas, see End of Life Doula UK.