A doula is a Greek word that means ” a woman who serves.” As an End of Life Doula, I help individuals and families define their goals and vision as they began to transition. Sometimes I consult with families at the time of a terminal diagnosis or a few months, weeks or days before they pass away. As a doula, I see one of my responsibilities is to meet my clients where they are, to provide them with appropriate guidance and insight into their journey. I educate care partners on the end of the life transition process. I teach them what non-verbal cues to look for, so their loved one is not in any pain or discomfort and I empower them about their rights as a hospice patient. Also, I make sure my care partners are aware of the many” gifts of time” that are still available and opportunities to be shared. For example, when my dad was passing away, in an inpatient hospice facility, we all gathered in his room, on a Sunday afternoon, there were about twenty of us. My nephew led us through his upcoming Bar Mitzvah service. It was one of the most moving, spiritual, and emotional experiences I have ever had. My dad participated; we all joined in song and prayer to share this beautiful “gift of time.” There was not a dry eye in the room. Even when I reflect on that moment 7 1/2 years later, my heart fills with warmth, happiness, and love.
In addition to providing comfort and compassion to the care partners, I see my most significant role, is to be a voice and advocate for the individual dying! I want to make sure their needs are voiced and they are pain-free. I believe that death should not be physically painful, if at all possible. When a person is dying, not in the active stage, but slowly declining, what they eat or drink will usually not matter. If my client wants a beer or an alcoholic beverage drink, then go for it! If they wish to chocolate ice cream four times, a day have it! I believe life is meant to be lived, so embrace it!
In closing, I see my role as an End of Life Doula, as an educator, an advocate, and a space holder. If I can provide any more information, please go to my website gracefuljourneyatl.com and send me a message.
Sending hugs and compassion,