People don’t know what they don’t know. Most people have never spent any time thinking about their last days or those of a loved one. When that time comes, it is a time that can be filled with love, peace and healing — doulas can help people and loved ones achieve this. End-of-life doulas offer emotional, spiritual non-medical support to people diagnosed with a life-limiting illness through to the end of life. Hospice teams are beginning to recognize opportunities to collaborate with doulas.
Doulas are trained to listen deeply, empower, educate, and offer end-of-life resources. They can help provide information on the benefits of hospice and dispel any myths people and caregivers may have.
Other ways doulas support people and their loved ones can include:
- Facilitating conversations regarding the dying process
- Discussing advance care planning and getting your affairs in order
- Assisting with end-of-life plans and comfort care plans including vigil planning, legacy projects
- Creating a sacred environment for end of life
- Advocating for a person’s last wishes
- Supporting caregivers by listening to their concerns, providing respite care and grief support
Since doulas are trained to recognize the signs of imminent death, they can assist the hospice and health care teams by alerting them to changes in the person’s condition.
Together, doulas and hospice can collaborate to create the most positive end-of-life experience for everyone.
Michele King is an end-of-life doula with The Last Gift End-of-life Doula Services