What is a Death Doula?
The word ‘doula’ comes from ancient Greek and is now often used to refer to a woman who helps other women. It has been applied to childbirth to refer to “a woman experienced in childbirth who provided continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.” The meaning is easily transferred for use in death and dying.
“A Death Doula is a person who is experienced in death who provided continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the dying person before, during and just after death.”
A Death Doula :
- Recognizes death as a key life experience that the dying person and their support network will remember all their lives.
- Understands the physiology of death and the emotional needs of the dying.
- Assists the dying person and their support network in preparing for and carrying out the death plan.
- Stays by the side of the dying person throughout the dying process.
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint and assistance to the dying person in getting the information they need to make good decisions.
- Facilitates communication between the dying person, their support network and the medical providers.
- Perceives their role as one who nurtures and protects the dying persons experience.
The acceptance of Death Doulas in end-of-life care is growing rapidly with the recognition of their important contribution to the improved outcomes and emotional well-being of the dying person and their support network.