“Die happily and look forward to taking up a new and better form. Like the sun, only when you set in the west can you rise in the east.” ~Rumi
Also known as a death doula or death midwife, an end-of-life (EoL) doula educates and empowers clients to make end-of-life decisions. Furthermore, the death doula works to ease the transition for the dying and their loved ones by offering nonjudgmental, non-medical emotional support while attempting to fulfill the final requests of the dying. Holistic in nature, a death doula provides support that goes beyond the emotional needs of a person but also considers their physical, social, and (if desired) spiritual needs.
EoL doulas refrain from acting as a substitute or replacement for one’s hospice or other professional or familial providers; however, they often advocate regarding medical care and funeral care based on predetermined requests of the dying individual. Ultimately, they work with the terminally ill early on to create a plan of action then set out to carry it out during any of the following times: leading up to one’s final hours, during the final hours (end of life vigil), and immediately afterward, along with burial/funeral, and/or post-funeral or burial
One doesn’t need to be ill to work with an EoL doula. Aside from the terminally ill, death doulas also work with anyone exploring practical end-of-life solutions regardless of their health status. Depending on a client’s plan of action, here are a few services that doulas provide:
- Advance care planning
- Coordination of care
- Help with legacy projects
- Calming the terminally ill
- Respite care for family members
- Vigil planning and/or sitting
EoL services are oftentimes pre-paid, out-of-pocket expenses not typically covered by insurance. In some cases, short-time packages (<20 hours) start as low as $700 but could run upwards of 3,500, especially for end-of-life vigil services.