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Death Doulas and End of Life Care

Posted by Memory Cremation Urns on

Illustrated by Natalia Bzdak. (Source:

You may be wondering what a death doula is—also referred to as an end-of-life coach, soul midwife, or transition guide. Much like a midwife assisting the birthing process, a death doula helps in the dying process. Death Doulas are called into care when a patient or family receives a terminal diagnosis. Typically they are a non-medical person trained to care for someone holistically at the end of their lives, while also helping families cope with death by recognizing it as a natural and essential part of life.

While doulas have existed since ancient times, death doulas are a relatively new and emerging movement. One of the first modern movements started in New York City in 2000, a volunteer program, later named “Doula to Accompany and Comfort,” began pairing doulas with terminally ill people. The program was funded by the Shira Ruskay Center of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services and NYU Medical Center. Today, there is a growing number of organizations that offer end-of-life doula services and certification programs. The movement largely remains unregulated, meaning there's no certifying body or overarching job description.

Death Doulas offer a wide range of spiritual, psychological, social, and logistical support, including memorializing, funeral preparations, memorial services, and guiding mourners in their rights and responsibilities. They often have extensive backgrounds in social work, hospice management, nursing, legal, and business administration. "There is a lot of medical support in dying, and there's some emotional support, as well, but I find that death doulas do a great job of tying it all together and having knowledge of a vast array of subjects," says Alua Arthur. Alua is the founder of Going with Grace, a death doula service that offers training and end-of-life planning. Ultimately, the type of care and support a death doula can provide is uniquely fit to each person based on their goals and needs.

To find a death doula near you or learn more, check out the resources listed below.

INELDA, the International End of Life Doula Association, offers an expansive list of resources, including end of life tool kits and starting guides, legacy resources, medical advanced care planning tools, and support, caregiver support, palliative care, and hospice, funeral, burial, and after death care, grief and bereavement, books, and podcasts.

Going with Grace offers death doula services, end-of-life planning, financial planning, and compassionate completions.

Lifespan Doulas an organization that trains and certifies end-of-life doulas.

NEDA, the National End of Life Doula Alliance, is a non-profit membership organization leading the rapidly growing end-of-life doula movement in the USA and beyond.

reimagine community resources is an online hub for all things end-of-life so people worldwide can find the essential resources they need, when (and even before) they need them.

Doulagivers certified end-of-life doulas are thoroughly trained in all three phases of end-of-life care.

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