Birth, Death and Doulas

Over the past few months I have had a couple experiences that prompted this blog post.  Initially I wanted to write about it in August, but life happened.  And we all know, when life happens, there’s not much we can do but grab the bull by the horns and hold on for dear life.  And that is what I did, until now.  I am finally stepping off the bull and ready to walk my path.

In July my Grandmother died.  She had expressed that she wanted a home death but was unable to have it.  It was during that whole experience that I started looking in to the correlation between the birth process and the death process.  I realized that both processes are so similar that it’s amazing, and I also realized that both processes need support.  And a plan.  And of course I realize that plans don’t always work out, but it helps to have one.  You see, my Grandma wanted a home death, but did not make any sort of plans so it did not happen.  It didn’t happen because the people who were with her were not equiped to handle a home death, nor could they have been expected to be.  She would have had to look in to home health care workers, or discuss the options with my Grandpa before she was on her last week of life.  This is where a doula could help (discussing options, helping with arrangements, support etc.,).

So, while my Grandma was in hospice, we drove out to see her.  She never could talk to me, so I just sat by her.  I started reading a book called “A Caregiver’s Guide: A Handbook About End-of Life Care”, and was blown away by the similar needs of a dying person, to that of someone giving birth.  It all came down to support, and specifically, support from someone who is knowledgeable of the process.  Wow… a light went off!  Of course!  Why wouldn’t someone who is dying need support and reassurance from a knowledgeable person, just like during birth!

 – click book if you’d like to download the electronic version (will take you to another site)

When I came back home to Alberta I did a quick google search and realized that people indeed are death doulas.  Yes, that is the name and here is what it is described as:

“It is commonly known that a Birthing Doula is someone who assists the birthing process.  A Death Doula is someone who can assist and facilitate the dying process; someone who has knowledge of various dying practices; someone skilled at helping people go into the depths of themselves to heal from various life-experiences, thereby, fostering wholeness even in this final transition.” – taken from   http://www.deathdoula.ca/whatis.html

From DONA.org – The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves”. 

A woman who serves…  say it again, “A WOMAN WHO SERVES”.  So there is definitely a need for more doulas, all kinds of doulas.  Birth Doulas, Death Doulas, Postpartum Doulas, Antepartum Doulas…. and something a little off topic but still necessary, TATTOO DOULAS!   And yes, I do know how to take a fairly serious blog post and turn it in to a comical script by the end.  Thank you very much.

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