Traditionally a doula is someone who offers care and support to a woman in labor to make the birth process easier. However, a new type of doula helps those at the other end of the life cycle.
Passing away is not as easy as it might seem. Patients in the dying process are sometimes confused, in pain or in need of comfort. Their loved ones are often just as confused and unsure about what they should say or even if they should say anything at all. Increasing awareness of these difficulties has led to an understanding that having a professional to assist dying patients and their families can be beneficial as the Washington Post reports in “Dying is hard. Death doulas want to help make it easier.”
Death doulas are trained professionals whose job is to assist the dying and their families. They attempt to make the transition from one world to the next easier. Sometimes that means that the doula just sits with a dying person and holds his or her hand so the individual knows he or she is not alone. Doulas will often help loved ones overcome their own emotions so they can say their final goodbyes. They have even been known to run errands for family members to make sure that families do not miss the final moments of a loved one’s life.
Anything that makes the end of life easier for the elderly and their families is welcome. Disputes that begin in sick rooms have often been known to linger for years between family members and can lead to family fights and even estate litigation.
To the extent that death doulas can make those disputes less likely, they offer a valuable service to the elderly and estate planners.
Reference: Washington Post (July 22, 2016) “Dying is hard. Death doulas want to help make it easier”
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