I thought I may share some of the things that I maybe asked to engage in with an individual and/ or their family/friends when nearing the end of life.
(Can I mention that none of us get out of here alive…many of the things that follow could be considered and acted on at anytime by anyone. Talking about sex doesn’t make you pregnant….talking about death won’t make you die but there’s a real risk it could make you live your life to its full potential!)
An End of Life Doula cares for the ENTIRE person/ family. Doctors, nurses, and a variety of carers address the disease, the medicine and the physical needs but there are the practical, emotional and spiritual needs of the dying person and their loved ones to consider and support, this is what a Doula would do. The previously mentioned professionals are of course amazing yet many are overstretched, Doulas want to contribute and collaborate with all those involved so the best is given to all aspects of the individual and their family/friends. Many Doulas, including myself, volunteer at hospices alongside this work.
I thought I may also mention my role is qualified, regulated and insured. I hold myself accountable to the internationally recognised code of ethics and values by NEDA.
So what might I do?
ADVANCED CARE PLANNING – this is to help get affairs in order, to personalise how the active stage of dying may look like, funeral wishes and much more.
ADVOCACY – between other professionals and the individual or perhaps within the family
SPIRITUAL CARE – this area is often neglected in life up until this point. It may just be wanting the chance to explore thoughts or indeed see a spiritual leader either can be taboo or shied away from in families or just be too much for them to hear.
LEGACY PROJECTS – often when a parent of young children die they want their children to have something to remember them by. There are lots of beautiful ways of doing this and is often a cathartic process for the dying person.
VIGILLING – organising rotas, doing night shifts so loved ones can gain much needed rest.
RESPITE CARE – the carers of people dying at home have SO much to learn, do and emotionally cope with. Breaks and rest is essential for all concerned.
ANIMAL CARE AND REHOMING – as you can imagine my ACP makes it clear that I would like my pets with me for as long as possible! But they need excercise, feeding, mucking out, perhaps vet visits and eventually perhaps rehoming. Animals are also often great providers of love and sanity to the family or friends supporting someone dying at home and therefore need to be able to go off and do those things or have me do them whilst they stay at home.
ERRANDS AND LIFTS
LOVED ONES AFTER CARE – it maybe of great comfort to someone to know that there loved ones will have help with practical issues after death, help with funeral arrangements and being there for them in the initial stage of grief.
So for those of you still reading! I love this work. I feel honoured to be present at such a special part of life. I feel honoured to get to know so many amazing people. I feel honoured to be on the frontline of helping people have as graceful and dignified death as possible and helping family and friends feel less traumatised.
I would like to thank all those that have shared their experiences with me so that I may shape my service appropriately.
Please can I ask you to share this so I may reach more people. I can be contacted on 07554420950 or firstname.lastname@example.org to answer any questions that you may want to ask. 🙏