Alternative or holistic pan death care - care of the dying, their family, and support network - is a small but steadily growing practice in Canada, the United States, and beyond. This care spans the 7 stages of the pan-death journey, and operates distinctly from (but often in partnership with) the medical and alternative wellness communities. As a Death Doula, my primary goal is to ensure that someone who is on, or approaching their deathbed - the Death Journeyer - dies with a peaceful mind, and that their community of family and caregivers is supported logistically and emotionally before, during, and after the death of their loved one. This includes ensuring that final affairs are taken care of prior to death, and that the Death Journeyer has the support and resources to die at home, if they so choose. Additionally, if a home funeral (a "wake" or "lying-in") is desired, I guide family and caregivers through the process of bathing, dressing, and preparing the body of their loved one; create memorial art/altars; facilitate grief integration through talking circles, meditation, and somatic experiencing techniques including yoga; act as celebrant for the funeral and/or memorial service; and advise on both traditional and green options for the disposition of remains.
What are the benefits of working with a Death Doula?
Because care providers such as medical doctors, hospice and palliative care workers, grief counselors, spiritual advisers, and funeral home directors work separately in offering their services to the public, utilizing a Death Doula's skills and knowledge can ensure that the wishes of the Death Journeyer and those who love them are honoured throughout all stages of the pan-death journey. Particularly in complicated situations, it is extremely useful to have a Death Doula mediate between individual service providers and the Death Journeyer and their caregivers, to ensure that their needs and wishes are met. In short, a Death Doula is a helping hand, non-judgmental ear, and organized mind who takes responsibility for arranging necessary paperwork and other details required to allow the Death Journeyer and those who love them to fully experience the pan-death journey in an unhurried and sacred way.
I am grateful and humbled in acknowledging my mentors Stephen Jenkinson andPashta Marymoon for their brave, compassionate, and groundbreaking work in the fields of Grief Education and Alternative Pan-Death Care.