What is a Death Midwife?
A Death Midwife is a trained professional with expertise and skills in supporting the dying person and their support network of family, loved ones and friends, to maintain the highest quality of life during the end-of-life process. Death Midwives are often called Home Funeral Guides in some areas. Death Midwives provide the dying person with individualized care uniquely suited to their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs. They are a non-medical supportive companion and guide to assist the dying person toward a more conscious dying experience. A Death Midwife usually offers a variety of options and seeks to minimize unnecessary interventions at the end of life. This philosophy is represented by the Death Midwives Model of Care.
“A Death Midwife is a person who is trained and experienced in death who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the dying person and their support network before, during and just after death.”
A Death Midwife:
- Believes that death and dying are a normal life process.
- Recognizes death as a key life experience that the support network of the dying person 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 person’s experience.
- They often help the dying to leave the body in the most graceful, supported manner possible.
- Can offer spiritual support as appropriate for the dying person and supports.
- Empowers families to reclaim the healing ritual of a home vigil or wake and the possibility of a funeral at home.
- Assists family with planning and carrying out after-death ceremonies or rituals (possibly laying out the deceased and home visitation of the body or wake).
- Preparing the body for burial or cremation.
- Filling out the death-related paperwork such as death certificate or transportation permit.
- Can help facilitate the transportation of the body.
- Can help facilitate the final disposition.
The acceptance of Death Midwifes 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.