Death Doulas are people who support people in the end of life process, much like a midwife or doula with the birthing process. It is “a new non-medical profession” that recognizes death as a natural, accepted, and honored part of life. One might say that death midwifery is to hospice palliative care as birth midwifery is to obstetrics.
Death Doulas can:
What is medical aid in dying?
A trusted and time-tested medical practice that allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with a prognosis of six months or less to live to request from their doctor a prescription for medication they can decide to self-ingest to die peacefully in their sleep. I offer this service in Oregon and California.
Legacy: We are all born and we all die; it’s what we do in the middle that creates our legacy. What we leave behind is far more than simply wealth and possessions. We can share our story or give wisdom, advice, love, and support even after we have passed. And in doing so, give the future a glimpse of your essence – who you were, how you saw the world, and what gave your life. Death Doulas can help patients with the powerful, uplifting process of developing a legacy plan.
Presence: The last phase of our life can stir fear and anxiety as we each face our end-of-life. This is simply because we have not walked this path before. Having someone present with the experience and training in such a time can bring a sense of comfort and familiarity to the otherwise unfamiliar. Death Doulas provide holistic support as they accompany individuals and their families before, during, and after death.
Dignity: Everyone wants to have a positive passing where they maintain dignity and honor as they exit life. We all have our own values, traditions, and belief systems that will influence our vision and expectation of what that would look like. Creating an environment that represents that vision is important. This along with developing a legacy and presence work, is what an End-of-Life Doula brings to you and your family.
People are readily embracing this new area of end-of-life planning, and the field is rapidly gaining momentum. In 2014, the National Institutes of Health released a report Dying in America in which they discussed the future of end of life care. This report declared that there is need for professionals such as Death Doulas and to move towards:
Many end of life care experts agree that over the course of the next decade, there will be a great rise in demand for alternative care services in order to accommodate the aging Baby Boomer generation and keep people at home during end of life (rather than residential care facilities).
There has never been a more important time than now to support both patients and families with specialized, non-medical alternative healthcare. Death Doulas are an an intricate and integral part of reshaping end of life care for the future.
“As long as they go through a training process, I think [Death Doulas] can complement the work of the Hospice team really well. The more people there to help a patient and family, the better.” –John Mastrojohn III, Executive Vice President of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
I certified in June of 2021 with Patty Brennan, founder of Lifespan Doulas. Patty has over 20 years as an EOL doula and over 40 as a birth Doula. “End-of-life doulas can come in and help people in a real practical way,” she said. “They can help keep the person comfortable, make sure they’re not left alone, provide respite care for overworked family members and give them time for self-care, to go for a walk or get a nice sleep without being interrupted.” Brennan said she’s honored to help people through such difficult times, helping guide decisions and a sense of peace.
“It’s an incredibly emotional, fragile time,” she said. “It’s very overwhelming. We’re focused on the quality of that rather than just the quantity of that end-of-life experience. We’re there to provide support.” My training included:
I am so grateful to mentor under this Rock-Star Death Doula through her internship program which I started in July 2021.
Jill Schock is the owner of DDLA. She is a Los Angeles native with over a decade of experience in end-of-life care. Her core values are to honor and advocate for options and choice for ALL humans at end-of-life. She believes in empowering her clients to step away from the imposed traditions and negative stigma around death, and embrace personal choice and style as the chapter of life comes to an end.
A “death doula” is someone who serves as a navigator, advocate, and experienced professional for the dying and their loved ones. Death Doula services range from pre-planning to after-death body care and home viewing celebrations.
Jill received a Master’s Degree in Ethics and Theology from Vanderbilt University Divinity School and was trained and certified as a Clinical Chaplain, or Spiritual Counselor. She has been featured in Wired, Goop, PureWOW, Mind Body and Soul, and more.
With a benevolent work ethic and years of bedside experience, Jill is an exceptional guide to those facing end of life.
Darcy Feinstein, Life Coach & Death Doula
Copyright © 2022 Darcy Feinstein, M.L.C. - All Rights Reserved.
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