Death used to be revered as a sacred part of our life's journey. It is only within the last 100 years that we've absolutely removed the end-of-life from being a natural component of our lives. The removal of end-of-life has caused death to become so much more difficult for both patients and their families.
End of life can be a positive and sacred experience - even beautiful, when it is embraced with grace. It is with the right education, kindness, and support that we can have the end of life go well, or at least better when it is our time. And everyone will have that time.
Due to current reimbursement structures, mainstream medical is only able to supply a certain amount of time and support for patients and families at end of life, but end of life is 24/7 and the need for more support in this area of care is extremely great. Not having been through hospice with a loved one before, I was surprised at the lack of support we had from the hospice agency during my dad's end of life. While most of it was during the time of COVID, I expected more than the nurse popping by a couple of times a week and being handed pamphlets to read. I didn't know what I was missing, but I knew I needed more.
"The minute we put a dollar amount and a time limit on dying, we're doing something wrong." - Suzanne B. O'Brien RN.
Don't get me wrong, most hospice agencies are wonderful and ours was running on all cylinders and doing the best they could too. Unfortunately, due to the demand, and a demand that will only grow as baby boomers age -- there just isn't enough people to go around. That's where Death Doulas come in - or as I prefer to call them, End of Life Doulas or Caregiver Doulas.
Death Doulas are non-medical holistic practitioners that care for somebody who is dying physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The Doula is filling in the gaps in mainstream medical and can support not only the patient and family but the Hospice Care Team as well. It's a win/win/win addition to end of life care.
As I continued to research and prepare services for Engage Care Partners, I started realizing that there was a name to what I was wanting to achieve in the services that could be provided - taking me to the Death Doula Certification. But in my studies, I also began realizing that so much of the services that are provided by Doulas at end of life could be done well before hospice, and actually upon diagnosis of a chronic or terminal illness, or even throughout a normal aging process. The Doula services that we provide at Engage Care Partners involves Advanced Planning and Care Navigation well before end of life stages.
"To love one another as Christ has loved us requires that we view one another as God sees us: cherished, forgiven, wonderfully made, and unique with no precise equal on earth," says Brooklyn White, owner of Engage Care Partners and Certified Death Doula. "We all have great purpose and a life story. By practicing life reviews, we choose to live abundantly in the days we are living now. By building our legacies, we are making our mark for future generations to come. That doesn't have to wait until we are on our death beds. It can also happen now!"
"End of Life is a human experience - not a medical one. With the right education, kindness, and support, end of life can be the sacred, positive experience it was meant to be." - Suzanne B. O'Brien, RN
"I believe God intends for us to live our lives abundantly each day. But because my faith runs deep that we have eternal life beyond the grave - I can be joyful about the end too," says White. "It is important to give ourselves permission to own our wishes and values we hold dear to us now and through the end of life."
Engage Care Partners' Caregiver and End of Life Doula Services helps to fill the gaps between medical and nonmedical services provided by home care and hospice to ensure a gentle and more peaceful path. By outsourcing the complicated paperwork, cumbersome coordination of care, and streamlining a network of providers - The Doula approach brings deeper meaning and greater comfort to those needing care, their families, and their caregivers. It transforms the experience from one that is fraught with anxiety, fear, and suffering into one that is filled with confidence, a sense of sacred space, and opens opportunities for tender moments of life.
Accept that birth, death, and grief are normal, expected parts of life
Provide non-medical, nonjudgmental, emotional/spiritual support and soothing comfort measures
Cultivate inner calm and peacefulness
Promote informed consent for each client
Gather relevant information and connect clients to beneficial resources
Assist each client with having personally meaningful experiences - together developing wishes for care and encouraging the preservation of energy for what's important
Trust the inherent wisdom of each client to discover their own best path
Companion rather than treat; Serve rather than fix
Empower and encourage a client's loved ones to operate within their comfort zones, and fill in support gaps as they arise
Promote self-care as vital to preserving and sustaining energy levels and enhancing holistic health
Some services provided, include:
Hosting a Time for Reflection and Conversation
Providing Opportunities for Life Reviews
Building Legacies: Videos, Letters, Books, Photos and Slide Shows
Establishing Sacred Places of Comfort
Documenting and Advocating for Honoring Wishes
Providing Comfort Measures and Solutions
Assisting with Logistics for Arrangements
Providing Family Grief Support
If you would like to learn more about Caregiving and End of Life Doula Services from Engage Care Partners, contact us at 1.205.743.1908 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.