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  • janetgoncalves

“Everyone eventually walks this path; no one need walk it alone.”

I recently had to update my bio for the End of Life Doula Association of Canada, of which I am a member. There are 5 of us serving the Maritimes.

"As a Death Doula, I have a unique place among the many compassionate people who offer end-of-life care in the South Shore and Halifax regions of Nova Scotia. I am the companion who walks with the dying and their families towards the distant light, empowering, educating, and supporting families in their experience of the dying process. Whether holding vigil by a bedside, or offering public workshops and presentations, I seek to bring the stability and peace of mind that facilitate a dignified death. Drawing on my experience as a teacher of 32 years, I offer educational programmes and Death Cafés which promote the Death Positive Movement.

My approach is authentic, holistic, and person-centred. The support I offer is specific to each client’s needs, beliefs, and wishes. Consider me to be your guide, companion, sounding board and reality checker. I work with clients of all ages and backgrounds. I offer my services to those families who are dealing with grief, including the loss of pets. In any of situation, diagnosis, or illness, at any time I look forward to working with you, either on-line or in-person.”

The process of updating my bio allowed me to reflect on precisely what information someone who is looking into working with a death doula would need to know. This blog highlights some of that information briefly.

In modern times, the word "doula" refers to a non-medical person. Its Greek origins refer to “servant”. Most people are more familiar with the term of birth doula rather than a death doula. Also called death midwives, end-of-life coaches, or even transition guides, Death Doulas are a movement. One could say that "death is having a rebirth".

A death doula, quite simply is a person who supports a dying or terminally ill person, and/or their family in:

• A non-funeral

• A non-legal

• A non-medical way

We act as their advocate. We allow them to die with dignity. This refers to supporting their choices to be included in conversations about one's death and the decision-making practices.

Our scope of practice is varied. Some Death Doulas specialize in one area, but the following are the major categories of our services:

1. Educational presentations and facilitation

2. Death paperwork preparation (e.g., Advanced Life Care Directive, MAID, wills) (*non-legal aspects)

3. Death support (e.g., vigil) (*non-medical aspects)

4. After death support (*non-funeral aspects)

Who are our clients?

• People of all ages who are terminal or not

• Pet owners

What approach do we take?

We take a holistic approach. We are trained to focus on the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of death, leaving medical aspects to healthcare professionals.

Our overall goal is to normalize the experience of death for everyone involved, taking it from an uncomfortable experience to one filled with rich, sweet memories.

What is the value in using a death doula?

• Reduce stress and burden

• Reduce hidden costs

• Increase choices and quality of life

• Enhance coping skills

• Optimize health care resources

• Normalize the death process

• Assist with the grieving process

In summary,

• We are person/family centered.

• We offer emotional and informational support.

• We encourage, advocate, and empower.

• We are aware of the signs of death.

• We provide post-death care information.

• We help and enhance the palliative team.

• We educate, mediate, advocate and support.

• We empathically listen and pay attention.

I offer one-on-one Zoom sessions and monthly Death Cafes (limited to 10 participants). More information about each will be found on my website.

Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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