End of Life Care
The Role of a Death Doula
When someone learns they are pregnant, they find themselves in need of guidance, comfort, compassion and support, and so they invite birth professionals to journey with them; to monitor them, educate them on their options and help create and facilitate their birth plan. The very same support is needed when someone learns they are dying. Just as a Birth Doula supports a life coming into this world, a Death Doula supports a life going out of this world. Being born and dying, transitioning from one state to the next, are two things our bodies intuitively know how to do, but having knowledgeable, compassionate support can help to make both experiences more meaningful. A Death Doula is a professional trained in end of life care, who provides emotional, physical and educational support to someone who is living with a terminal illness, preparing for death or actively dying, and their loved ones. The Death Doulas purpose is to help a dying person and their loved ones have a meaningful, memorable and empowering dying experience.
Planning and Creating Your Sacred Dying Space
~ The Vigil
Being given a terminal diagnosis can be shocking, overwhelming and terrifying, not only for the individual, but for their families and loved ones. Most people don't want to live their last days in a hospital, but would prefer to be in the familiar surroundings and comfort of their own home. Often, it is fear that prevents that from happening; fear of not knowing what to expect, what kind of care is available and how to care for the dying person. As a Death Doula, I am able to provide knowledge of the dying process, and support and empower caregivers to help create and facilitate a good death. A very special piece of this is creating the Vigil; the vision of what that a good death looks like to the dying person. This can include rituals, music, shared silence, poetry or scripture readings, healing touch, any last wishes and who is present. As a Death Doula, I would help to create and then facilitate the pre-planned Vigil in the last few days of life. I would be present to hold space and provide spiritual support and basic care to the dying person and their caregivers. As part of my repertoire, I offer Reiki treatments to the dying person for comfort and relaxation and to alleviate anxiety and pain, and incorporate them into their Vigil at no additional cost.
How You Want to be Remembered
~ The Importance of Legacy
Being forgotten is a very real fear for people facing death, just as a fear of forgetting even the smallest detail about a loved one plagues those left behind. Creating your personal legacy can not only prevent that from happening, but also allows you to capture and create how you want to be remembered - not only by your loved ones, but generations from now. Legacy is about reflecting back on your life, about capturing stories and memories, about recalling adventures and lessons learned. Working on a Legacy project can be very therapeutic as it can give you something beautiful and positive to focus on, and it gives you control over something when you feel you've lost control of most things. You get to decide what you want to include, you get to decide how you want to be remembered. Legacy can also be very powerful in making meaning of the life you have lived and how you have impacted the lives of others, as well as creating an opportunity explore beliefs and spirituality as you face death. Legacy projects can be something you work on independently or with loved ones, and can include anything you wish them to, such as interviews, photos, letters, videos, poetry and art and can be created in the form of Memory Boxes and Memory Books. These projects can also be a way of bringing families closer together through meaningful conversations, expressions of forgiveness and shared laughter. Legacy projects preserve your memory, however you want to be remembered, and can provide comfort and joy for those who love you for many years to come.
~ A Healing Touch
There are a myriad of benefits of massage therapy in end of life care, not the least of which are the healing power of touch and connection. It can also help with pain relief, relaxation, and eliminating toxins. Perhaps most important though, is the prevention of tissue damage or skin breakdown (also known as bedsores), which as people become more incapacitated or bed ridden, can be a life-threatening problem. With focus on those particular areas to ensure adequate blood flow and circulation, this massage can be either 30 minutes or 60 minutes in length, and can also include Reiki for additional healing and wellness, at no extra cost. For the 2 years I have been providing palliative massage and Reiki to end of life clients, I have both witnessed and been praised for how it has contributed to their comfort and quality of life.
Empowering and Supporting Your Loved Ones
~ Continued Care
An important piece of what I offer as a Death Doula is to provide information and support to the loved ones of the dying person, so they can focus on caring for them and making the most of what time is left. Aside from providing insight and knowledge about what to expect during the dying process, I can also provide information and support on practical pieces that need attention such as the importance of creating and implementing advance care directives, grief & bereavement support for the dying and their loved ones, the importance and practice of self care for caregivers, and the ability to organize and facilitate a home funeral, should that be the wish of the dying person. As a Death Doula, a Reiki Practitioner and a Bereavement Specialist, I am able to provide support before, during and after the death, helping to promote and facilitate a more beautiful, and less painful journey.