Here you will find common questions about the end-of-life process, elder care, and their answers.
"It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth-and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up-that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had."
What’s the difference between Hospice and an End-Of-Life Doula?
Doulas do not take the place of medical personnel rather, collaborate with hospice, palliative team, and other healthcare professionals to create a dynamic support system ensuring the highest quality of life for a patients end-of-life care. The biggest difference is that an End-of-Life Doula does not provide medical care. As a complement to a hospice service, an End-of-Life Doula can offer more time, more personalized attention, more continuity at the bedside, and more availability beyond what hospice is normally able to provide due to Medicare guidelines. End-of-Life Doulas can provide full-time presence and companionship during the vigil and at death, and our advocacy in hospitals or at home, and our end-of-life care plans for practical, spiritual, physical, and emotional needs reflect a scope of service unavailable through most hospice organizations.
Do I have to be dying to work with you?
No, acknowledging and entering the conversation regarding your death while exploring the many nuances of End-of-Life planning are important. Not only will you be better prepared for your death, but your loved ones will also thank you. Getting comfortable with the conversation of death and getting acquainted with our own death builds a strong foundation and readiness for when death arrives. I also work with younger and healthy professionals and their loved ones in getting their end-of-life planning and health care documents explained and organized.
When should I hire an End-of-Life Doula?
The sooner the doula can enter 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.
If I follow a particular religion, how will you work with me?
The journey to death and dying is non-denominational. No matter what your religious or spiritual practice is, death offers the space for you to be met with the support of a tender, loving and kind human being. I respect and honor the religious and/or spiritual practice of the individual. If I don’t know, I ask and research the beliefs and practices that my client resonates with.
Why is an End-of-Life Doula helpful?
For many people who are approaching the end of life, being prepared, and having everything in place for when they do die is a very important thing. They don’t want their families to be scrambling, and they have certain ideas about what they want their end of life to look like, death doulas help facilitate these wishes.
Death doulas generally bridge the gap between efforts to prevent a death from happening and after a death occurs. This allows for a continuity of presence during the transition between life and death. Part of that process is making sure the person who’s dying is aware of what’s happening and, if they’re able or they desire it, to give them the space to confront their own grief and be an active participant in their dying process.
• For the dying individual: Whether in the family's home, hospice, hospital or some other setting, a death doula often provides the profound gift of companionship. Among many things, this might comprise simply holding the dying person's hand; actively listening to his or her comments; conversing and attempting to offer answers/comfort to the individual's questions/concerns/needs; watching television or reading a book aloud; discussing end-of-life wishes; helping the dying individual resolve/find peace about real or imagined wrongs; etc.
• For the family members: Whether in the family's home, hospice, hospital or some other setting, a death doula often provides the gift of continuity across the pan-death spectrum, i.e., before, during and after a death occurs. Among many things, this might comprise performing various basic tasks usually conducted by a home caregiver; staying with the dying individual while family members are away; facilitating supportive communication and/or conversations between all parties; assisting in the creation of meaningful goodbyes during the remaining hours of life; completing advance healthcare directives and selecting a trusted healthcare proxy; Vigil planning and presence during the vigil; serving as a resource for funeral/interment planning and estate settlement; etc.
Who needs Advanced Directives/End of Life Planning?
EVERYONE over the age of 18.
The best time to plan is now. Unfortunately, none of us are guaranteed long lives and we don’t know what the future holds. If you’ve recently started a family, have purchased a home, have started to make a higher salary, or have experienced illness, these are all great moments to begin to plan. Thinking ahead and organizing and planning now can free up energy space to focus on living your best life in the present and worrying less about the future.
Even if you don’t feel you have ‘enough’ to need these documents, it’s still important to start these conversations. If you become sick/ill or have an accident, your advanced directives will allow your loved ones and medical professionals to understand and follow your medical wishes and make your personal values known.
Having your documents completed and organized is the greatest gift you can give your loved ones.
“Bringing grief and death out of the shadow is our spiritual responsibility, our sacred duty.”