End-of-life doulas work with those with serious illnesses who are facing death—and also for those who are healthy and just want to prepare for death. An end-of-life doula is a nonmedical professional trained to care for a terminally ill person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs during the death process. One of the biggest advantages of having an end-of-life doula is the continuity of care and consistent support. Doulas don’t get involved in medical issues.
On practical matters, doulas can advise on advance care directives, vigil planning and post-death options, and assist with life review and legacy projects. On more emotional matters, doulas can facilitate conversations about unresolved issues or complex family dynamics and offer space for the fears and uncertainties around death and dying.
End-of-life doulas advocate for the wishes and needs of the dying person. They work with the health care team in ongoing care and coordinate with the support network of family and friends in place or help to establish a needed support system. Doulas fill gaps in care and tackle tasks that are difficult to do or face. All the while, EOL Doulas can be a calming presence for loved ones and the dying person, especially for those who are facing death all alone.
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