I began my professional life as a PT in the UK and worked with inpatients and outpatients. During this time I treated children with Cystic Fibrosis, I realized quickly as a young PT that I did not have the words needed nor the experience to help the fear and anxiety surrounding the families as they lost their precious children at an early age. I felt lacking and unable to offer anything but the physical therapy treatment needed to keep them comfortable.
I came across this feeling as I worked with Geriatric patients in the medical wards, Oncology patients, and ICU. I could see there was a gap between the excellent medical care these patients were receiving and their need for reassurance, a safe space to talk, and a place where they could express themselves fully and free to talk about their fears.
Years later, with more life experience, I struggled to support my father to ease his fear and anxiety around dying and death. I did not know how to bring up a subject that he had avoided strenuously throughout his life.
As a PT, caregiver, aromatherapist, mother, and wife, I have dealt with many scenarios but knew I wanted to find out more about how we can be more prepared for an event that will come to all of us in time, namely death.
I certified as an End of Life Doula and combined that with other skills I had learned, such as Aromatherapy and reflexology, I became an End of Life Doula.
Learning how to be fully present, to deal with the silences, to be the quiet, supportive presence in the room, to sit and hold my client’s hand, to listen to their thoughts and fears. To provide gentle massage and comfort touch. To help to hold space for the client and to be present for such a sacred time awakened a passion inside of me to speak and teach around the sacred and special Role of an End of Life Doula. To bring conscious awareness back to death and dying.
The role of an End of Life Doula is nonmedical, and one that I believe will become more widely known. The Doula is focused on one client at a time and is fully present for that person and their experience.
We are in a time of changing consciousness. There are many wonderful people who are feeling the call to carry out this work.
Palliative care and Hospice offer incredible support during a time of illness and end of life, and a Doula can act as an addition to these services to enrich the time of her client and as an additional and specific type of support.
The Doula guides her client by exploring and uncovering their wishes for their end-of-life experience. They investigate different areas such as physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and legacy. After going through this process many times, I understood these are questions we can consider at any time during our life. The more familiar we become considering our mortality, the deeper we connect with life and the greater our understanding of death.
My path led me to become a coach on End of Life and Life. It is by looking at our end of life and death and accepting the reality of our mortality that we can be fully mindful and aware of our life at this exact moment. We can take the time to realize our wishes and to share these thoughts with our loved ones and significant people in our life. Looking at our death brings us face to face with our life.
The shared world experience of Covid over the past year has highlighted the enormous importance and need for connection, community, and communication. It has also brought our focus on mortality, death, and preparation and the need for discussion, conversation, and thought on this subject.