FAQs – What is a Death Doula?

1. What is a Death Doula?

A Death Doula, or End of Life Doula, End of Life Coach or Death Midwife is a non-medical and holistic practitioner who steer people and their families through the dying process by way of presence, support, advocacy, edification, and companionship. Just as birth doulas support mothers birthing a new life, a death doula help individuals leave-taking this life into the next.

A coach is decisive on your potential vs a counsellor is focused on helping you be at ease and peace with yourself and your life. Coaches are skilled in helping clients move forward in life vs counsellors are as well trained in human development, sexuality, family dynamics, and mental health conditions.

Coaching is action orientated, vs counselling is coping orientated.
Coaches yearn to help you recognise what you reflect vs counsellors also want to help you comprehend how you feel.

Coaching helps you set and achieve goals vs counselling help you out in recognising and unravelling your problems in life.

A coach has the task to challenge you frequently vs a counsellor is readily available to support you with compassion and understanding (although they might gently challenge you).

Coaches’ intent entirely on the present and future vs there are counsellors who focus primarily on the present and the future, others on the past (depending on the type of therapy you choose).

A coach is more determined on your potential vs a counsellor is focused on assisting you be at peace with yourself and your life.

Coaches are trained in helping clients budge forward in life vs counsellors are also trained in human development, sexuality, family unit dynamics, and mental health situation.</p.

Coaches can distinguish if it is old core beliefs impeding you in life vs counsellors can also recognise if it is depression, adult ADHD, or another mental health disorder that is really holding you back.

Coaches can schedule with relatively new, non-regulated membership associations vs counsellors register with long customary and very strict advisory boards.</p.

Coaches, once licensed, are not administered vs counsellors and therapists usually have a superintendent overseeing their work.</p.

Coaching is something you pay for individually vs counselling can be confidential, but you can furthermore have a counselling enclosed by your work insurance or via the NHS and a GP referral.</p.

2. Why would I need a Death Doula/End of Life Coach?

Death Doulas are a calming and reassuring presence with knowledge of the death process, and a compassionate resource for families who may be overwhelmed and grieving at the impending death of their loved one. Death Doulas offer a variety of services to assist in the transition of dying, but are first and foremost a grounding, reliable, knowledgeable and comforting presence during a most emotional time.

3. How you are different from what a hospice offers?

We highly recommend every individual and family facing a terminal illness and end of life to call their local hospice as soon as possible. Though our doula services do not replace hospice’s medical team of nursing and physician care, we complement hospice teams seamlessly. We offer more time, more personalized attention, more continuity at bedside, more advocacies, and more availability beyond what hospice is normally able to provide due to Medicare guidelines. Our extensive training exceeds what hospice volunteer programs provide as each of us have faced in depth our fears and emotions around death. We are trained and practiced to be with intense and difficult emotions. Our full-time presence and companionship at vigil and at death, our advocacy in hospitals or at home, our coaching to customize end-of-life care plans for spiritual, physical, practical and life review needs and most of all, our consistent relationships with our clients are not a service offered anywhere else.

4. When should I contact a Death Doula?

Death Doulas can be contacted at any time during the end of life process. The sooner the doula can enter into the process, the more time can be spent getting to know the individual and family, creating quality care plans, prioritizing end of life needs, and creating sacred space and meaning for the individual and family.

We may commence the affiliation at the time of diagnosis or in the later stages. Sometimes we are with a person for days and weeks; sometimes for months or more than a year. We are there when appealed and stay for as long as is needed.

5. Do Doulas charge for their services?

Some do, some do not. Some operate as donation only, some have a specific pay structure like packages or hourly rates based on the specific services provided, some have a sliding scale. Regardless, this part of the client-doula relationship should be clearly communicated and established from the beginning.

comprehend the physiology of death and the complicatedness of emotions that go along with the diagnosis of a terminal illness

support clients in creating and carrying out their health care treatment decisions

are well-informed about legalities, alternatives, and tools in the UK

endow with emotional, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint

providing information needed to make informed care decisions

facilitate communication amid client, family and other care providershield the client’s dignity and the family’s reminiscence during the death experience.

6. Are End of Life Doulas permitted into the hospital or palliative care setting?

End of Life Doulas go into hospital or analgesic care settings only when their clients are admitted into care and prolong to want their doula’s support. The doula provides support to their client and client’s family, and does not form division of the recognized health care team under the current Ministry of Health guidelines. However, clients and their families may invite the doula in the room as they wish.

7. Is End of Life Doulas covered under medical?

At this time, End of Life Doulas is not roofed under medical or private insurance. It is a goal of the association to make End of Life Doulas available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. Consequently one of our goals is to reach funding so that everyone has equal access to quality end of life care.

8. In what ways is an End of Life Doula different from a hospice/palliative care nurse?

End of Life Doulas are corresponding to, but do not seek to substitute, support provided by hospice palliative care workers.

End of Life Doulas are neither trained nor able to manage medication and all medication must be administered by the trained and licensed nurse during the medical home care appointment. The End of Life Doula/client relationship may commence at the point of diagnosis or as early in the journey following diagnosis, and persist throughout the progression of the illness.

The Doula may provide support through the vigiling time, and continue with the family for a period following the death – it actually depends on the needs and requirements of the family and the types and level of support the individual End of Life Doula is able to provide.

9. Do End of Life Doulas attend the death?

I believe that educating individuals to act in the role of an End of Life Doula has impactful benefits on a clients end life. We believe End of Life Doulas will:

augment autonomy

teach individuals and families to handle their own health care decisions

amplify the use of advanced care planning

lessen or aid deal with the family burden

support access to palliative care programs and seamless continuity of care across health care settings and teams

enhance the use of culturally and spiritually sensitive care

boost communication through the end of life journey

I believe that End of Life Doulas can facilitate bridging the needs of continuing and end-of-life care by providing continuity of care through the journey from diagnosis to end of life – for family and friends as well as the individual who has received the diagnosis. In some cases, we are called to vigil or be present at the time of death, however after the death has occurred our contract with the client ends. At this time, the family may decide to continue with a contract for grief support.

10. Do you do home funerals or burials?

End of Life Doulas work closely with funeral directors to create the most memorable experience for the loved ones of our clients. It is not in the scope of practice to prepare or direct care of the deceased, however end of life doulas are aware of the legalities and requirements for care of a body, transportation and burial, or cremation. In some cases a doula will attend a ceremony or funeral; however it is not a requirement.

11. How much time do you want with the person?

I will be up with what is needed. Firstly it may be that we are on the end of a telephone or are with you saying once a week or less. In other circumstances a more continuous presence is needed for example sleep over. We will work as part of a small team if that is what is required to give assurance and provide cover.

12. Do you support the individuals close to the person with a life limiting illness too?

We do. We work in a holistic way to include both the person at the centre and those they love. We are available to loved ones too after the person has died – both practically and emotionally.

13. Can you help me with my living will/advance plan for End of life?

I can. If this is something you are concerned about, please complete our Contact Form and we will be in touch with you.

14. What else can you help with?

In my set of connections I can draw on the know-how of other Doulas who work as Funeral Celebrants, Funeral Directors, Therapists, Healers, and Grief Counsellors.

I don’t want anyone who has strong spiritual and religious beliefs/ I want someone who will respect my spiritual and religious beliefs.

I truly respect, acknowledge and am alongside the individual’s values and beliefs.

15. How do you work with others involved in my care?

I collaborate with and work alongside other health and social care professionals and informal Carers. Over and over again, we are called upon to co-ordinate appointments and to fill in the gaps.

16. Do you support people who are not at home- for example in a hospice or a hospital or a care home?

I do.

I want someone who will speak up for me/ speak on my behalf

I am often the point of contact to work in this way.