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End-of-Life Doulas to support a good death

Doulas often support women during childbirth but they can also support individuals and families facing the end of life.

Photo of Erica Gibson
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Similar to hospital or hospice volunteers who sit vigils with patients in the twilight hours of people's lives, end-of-life doulas can help individuals and families embrace their final hours through preparation and presence.  An article last year in the New York Times covers some of the work that end-of-life doulas may do.  There are also several organizations that provide training and mentorship, such as INELDA and Accompanying the Dying.  For many health systems, doulas are already recognized care providers.  Expanding their role to end-of-life care could help patients have a smoother transition during this liminal time by understanding their wishes for a good death.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

In American culture we often don't talk about death, even though it is an inevitability for everyone. Doulas could create a cultural space through the medical system to make talking about a good death an approachable topic for patients and their families. I'm also a trained birth doula and can see the parallels between the beginning and end of life.

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm the Medical Ethnographer (trained as an anthropologist) for an innovation center under Palo Alto Medical Foundation and Sutter Health. Our team's mission is focused on successful aging.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tee Clare

Thank you for bringing this to light. I am a Death Doula in the Bay Area and find it to be incredibly rewarding work and much needed. Tee Clare

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