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.”-