The Role and Importance of End-of-Life Doulas

April 14, 2021

When most people hear the word “doula” they envision expectant mothers, babies and childbirth. While this traditional vision is accurate, a growing number of healthcare professionals are choosing to focus in a very different area of practice: End-of-life support. Specializing in end-of-life care, death doulas provide invaluable resources and comfort to the dying and their families.

Birth doulas have been providing vital support during childbirth for years, however according to the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA) the official role of “death doulas” did not exist until 2003. This position is also referred to as “end-of-life doulas,” “mourning doulas,” and “death midwives.” HereToday highly recommends INELDA as a respected resource for those seeking additional information on this topic.

An end-of-life doula will connect with an individual to understand what’s most important to them. Based on the person’s requirements, doula services can include:

  • Advanced medical directives
  • Aiding in putting affairs in order
  • Writing an obituary
  • Attendance list of who should be present during hospice stay or active death 
  • Setting the environment. Creating a space of calmness and serenity during death 

Honoring the Life

The end-of-life doula service is a model that honors the dying person’s life. By enabling them to control how they approach their passing, it provides the person and their loved ones with a deeper and more spiritual experience for closure. 

Non-Clinical in Nature

While many doulas are trained as nurses, oftentimes they are non-clinical. A death doula does not provide clinical or nursing care. Their role is solely to provide physical, emotional, and informational support.

Impact of End-of-Life Doulas

The USA Today article “Death doulas provide support, comfort and a new option for the dying and their families” highlights the many ways doulas can ease the dying process. Doulas often provide support in one’s private home, nursing homes, as well as hospice care facilities. As stated in the story “We journey with the person who is dying and their family to help them navigate through the whole end-of-life process,” said Janie Rakow, president of the INELDA.

Hiring an End-of-Life Doula

There are no formal end-of-life doula accrediting agencies or processes at this time. Due to the lack of regulations, experts recommend doing background research before hiring a doula. In addition to meeting with candidates face to face to ensure compatibility, asking the right questions can also produce many useful insights.

A local doctor, hospital, or healthcare team can provide a list of doulas. Keep in mind that fees vary widely depending on the services offered. Many doulas even work in a volunteer capacity.

Coming to terms with death and dying is anything but easy for individuals and their loved ones. End-of-life doulas can play a beautiful role in helping someone live as positive a life as possible until the end. 


Disclaimer. HereToday is not a legal service. This content should not be taken as legal advice. Before drafting any legal document, please consult an attorney.

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