In Canada today, the overwhelming majority of us do not know what to do logistically, socially, legally, and emotionally when death knocks on our door. Sometimes unexpected but often seen from far off in the distance, no one is immune to this rite of passage. In grief, we are left watching our lives disintegrate around us, not having been taught the compulsory art of what to do when everything falls apart. When an individual receives a terminal diagnosis, palliative care options can seem overwhelming or incomplete, and the complex emotions that arise for both the Death Journeyer and their family are often not addressed due to the medical community's emphasis on physical health. Similarly, when someone close to us dies, the majority of us will seek out the services of a funeral director, celebrant, and perhaps a counsellor, finding that we don't have the language to articulate what we are feeling or what we need from others to feel supported in our grief process. Navigating these professional services can be stressful because each new professional contact lacks the background context of an individual client's unique situation.
As a Death Doula, my mission is to provide continuous, holistic care for the Death Journeyers and their families who seek me out. I aim to be the reference and access point for professional services; advocate for the needs of those who I am companioning through the process of dying and grieving; and, above all, a friend for the end.
Core Values Gratitude in Service While sitting in meditation early one morning, the words "death" and "doula" floated together in the black field of vision behind my eyelids. I knew immediately that I had received my calling. It is from this unshakable internal knowing, and a deep devotion to service for the greatest good of myself and others, that the core values of my practice arose. They are:
To approach all people with empathy, compassion, equality, and respect
To approach death as a natural and necessary part of the life cycle
To honour the Death Journeyer's cultural and spiritual beliefs, and ensure that they are able to access the services, rites, or activities that they find personally meaningful
To empower the Death Journeyer, their family, and caregivers to directly participate in as much of the pan-death journey as is desired
To maintain well-defined personal boundaries and self-care in order to provide the highest quality of support and guidance possible