What is an 'End of Life Doula'?
An end of life doula is a non-medical professional who is trained to care for the practical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of a person before, during, and after death.
End of life doulas help people to have the death they want and provide holistic support to the person nearing death as well as their loved ones.
However, although end of life doulas are primarily known for the care they provide during the course of a terminal illness, the dying process and the bereavement period, the truth is that we work with anyone, regardless of their state of health and age.
End of life doulas are also known as:
How much time do you normally spend with each person?
As much as the person wants or needs. I will arrive when requested and I will stay for the amount of time that has been agreed in advance, or as long as necessary. This can range from one hour to several hours over a period of days, weeks, or months. For example, at the beginning of an illness, I might be with the person only a couple of hours a week, but as the illness progresses my presence could be required more continuously and then I would be with them for many more hours, even staying overnight if necessary.
How does an end of life doula work with others involved in a person's care?
The end of life doula collaborates and works alongside healthcare professionals, the palliative team, and other caregivers, respecting their roles but at the same time filling the gaps that they cannot fill.
What kind of things are you not able to do?
I do not perform any clinical manoeuvres, administer medications, provide medical advice and make any decisions regarding the care of the person.
Who can benefit from your services?
In addition to terminally ill people and anyone close to death, other examples of those who can benefit from my support include:
Everyone who wants to know more about death and dying.
The caregivers of a person at the end of life.
Those who want examine their wishes and/or wish to make a plan for the final stage of their lives.
Individuals who wish to review their wishes for the end of life.
Anyone who needs help in making their advance papers and communicating their decisions to others.
People who require support after receiving a diagnosis or losing a loved one.
Older adults who need additional assistance because their ageing process has begun to interfere with their ability to live independently.
Anybody who needs guidance on the practicalities and formalities that should be done after death.
Individuals, groups and communities that want to approach death differently.
When should we get in contact with an End of Life Doula?
Generally, the sooner the better. However, this will depend on the specific person and situation. For example, with people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, the help starts during this final phase of their life (from the day of diagnosis, in an intermediate stage or even just before their death); whereas with people who require assistance regarding their advance planning, the support might begin many years before the end of their lives.
Can you still help me or my loved one if we do not live in Chesterfield or the UK?
Yes. I can travel moderate distances and, if you are far away, we can use a digital platform to meet (e.g. Zoom, WhatsApp or FaceTime). Luckily, many of my services can be provided remotely!
Do you offer your services in another language?
Yes, although I studied in English speaking countries and I live in the UK, my native language is Spanish, so I am fluent in both languages.
Now let me ask you some questions:
What do you feel when you think about your own death or the death of your loved ones?
Are you afraid of death?
If so, what is your main fear?
What would a good death experience look like for you? Do you know what it means to have a good death for your loved ones?
Are you and your loved ones prepared for death?
Have you thought about what you would or would not like to experience at the end of your life? Do your loved ones know these details? Do you know their wishes?
What would happen if you were told that you are going to die soon? Is there something you would like to do or are there people you would want to reconcile with?
Do you want to die alone or in company?
If you want company, who would you like to have around while you die?
What would you like to happen in your last moments? Do your loved ones know these things? Do you know those things about them?
Where would you like to die and what do you want to happen to your body after death? Do your loved ones know that? Do you know what they want?
How would you like others to remember you? What are you doing to make it happen?
We do not know when we are going to die or when our loved ones will die,
but we do know that death is inevitable. That is why I invite you to think about it and not to leave for tomorrow what you can do today.