Life’s final moments are often filled with heightened emotions, confusion and sometimes fear. Not only for the person transitioning into death, but perhaps as much for the family and other loved ones.
For the last few decades, there has been significant growth in the practice of using an end-of-life “doula,” or Transitioning Guide, to assist the individual and/or family and friends through the final months, weeks and days. (“Doula” is the Greek term for “woman who serves,” and has typically been in service during the birthing process.)
Like birth doulas, end-of-life doulas don’t play a medical role. They work in concert with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, but don’t replace them.
End-of-life doulas provide emotional and spiritual support at an intensely personal and crucial time. They assist people in finding meaning, creating a legacy project, and planning for how their last days will unfold. Doulas also guide and support loved ones through the last days of their loved one’s life, and ease the suffering of grief in its early stages.
While during the end-of-life process is when a doula is most often called in, the doula’s role has also been especially helpful in trauma where a life-altering situation has occurred and the affected individual as well as family and friends are struggling to regain their footing.
“Being free has nothing to do with leaving the body or earth. Being free means letting go of what isn’t true.”