Frequently Asked Questions

What is Healing Dignity during end of life transitions?

Healing dignity during end-of-life transitions means compassionately and consciously embracing all moments with great respect and attentiveness.  Embracing change, especially end of life transitions, enables the heart to open, heal, and cope with emotions cradled in sacred moments of attentiveness.  This facilitates comfort and peace.

What is an End-of-life Doula (EOLD)?

Doulas comes from the Greek word doúla meaning “servant-woman.” For decades doulas have provided companion services during birth, and in recent years a rapidly growing movement now includes similar services to those approaching end of life transitions and their loved ones.

Doulas establish relationships with clients, gaining trust and developing rapport, clarifying goals, fears, and wishes of the most important person – the individual, and loved ones.  Time becomes elusive and focusing on moments of healing dignity helps to stay present while honoring all emotions, thoughts, and physical realities; and providing information.

Daily activities can be unpredictable. As time disappears, end-of-life doulas remain steady and calm, wholeheartedly believing in the human dignity of the dying person and providing compassionate, conscious support as a companion.  Listening and cultivating serenity in the moment is paramount.

End of life doulas also service as companions simply holding hands, fetching food and drink, practicing breathing techniques, suggesting physical positions, whispering encouragement with great reverence, and guidance for those present to navigate their part in their best interest.

The National End-of-Life Doula Alliance, 2020 states end-of-life doulas provide non-medical, holistic support and comfort to the dying person and their family, which may include education and guidance as well as emotional, spiritual or practical care, from as early as initial diagnosis through bereavement.”-

How can a Doula help me cope with all that I am thinking and feeling?

It is natural to experience difficulties such as intense feelings, shifting dynamics, doubts, and suffering.  Again, end-of-life doulas embrace these moments with reverent compassion and conscious awareness like a ship’s rudder, but only a part of the glory and dignity of the whole vessel of the dying individual’s and loved one’s journey and mystery.

How can Healing Dignity help cope with grief?

Grief experienced by an individual approaching end of life and by all those in relationships with a dying person is natural.  Healing dignity by honoring and holding grief in deep reverence and coping with known best practices helps greatly.  Every journey of mystery is unique and special.  An end-of-life doula companions navigation of uncharted waters while championing the dying person.

My elderly mom just received a terminal diagnosis. I cannot cope with it. How can Healing Dignity help my family?

When a terminal diagnosis is determined, end-of-life doulas provides information about what may come and help with planning to minimize uncertainties and maximize peace. Striving for highly personalized service, questions such as:

  • “Is there anything you would like to do or take care of?”
  • “Do you have an Advanced Health Care Directive?” (and if not, assist completing one.)
  • “What may I do to best support you?”

Sometimes a client or loved one may not be ready to discuss topic(s), so simply a seed is planted for later fruitful benefit.  Open and honest discussion and planning, though difficult, is well worth the effort because it identifies a client’s wishes and improve end of life transitions with healing dignity, and greatly strengthens relationships.

What does a person experience near end of life?

A dying person’s experience may include changes in breathing, ability to communicate, longer periods of sleep, less interest and participation in socializing, physical capabilities, and a disconnect with the mundane world and inner connect to ethereal world.

What is your one best piece of advice for end-of-life transitions?

One practice to enhance end of life transitions is, if possible, establish a group of folks to stop by with meals or to look at pictures together to share companionship.  This helps to increase meaningful, cherished 'in-the-moments' to love and remember.  Of course, flexibility depending on unexpected client circumstances prevails.  This also helps the circle of loved ones because end of life transitions can be very overwhelming and require a lot of time, and self-care of loved ones is also very important.

What is an Advanced Health Care Directive and why is it helpful?

As individuals approach active dying it may be a peaceful and quiet experience, or a painful and relentless time of agitation, with limited communication capabilities. An Advanced Health Care Directive greatly enhances identification and understanding of the dying person’s wishes for themselves and their care team.

It is especially helpful to enable appropriate discussion in advance to cultivate relationships and make decisions without the added complexities introduced during end of life transitions.  The individual’s care team of loved ones, friends, medical, psychological, and other professionals work together with a goal of minimizing suffering.


Accompany individuals with long term illness or approaching end of life, their families, caregivers, and communities by cultivating distinctive paths to well-being; and through publications.


Dignity ❧ Compassion ❧ Respect ❧ Integrity

Healing Dignity

Mary McLaughlin, Owner

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