The word doula means a woman who helps or guides (though a man can be a doula, too!). My guess is that most people who have heard this word reference it with a birth doula. Death Doula's are similar but they help guide a loved one's transition out of this life. There are many different titles used by End-of-Life Doulas such as Soul Midwifery, end-of-life coach/guides, or death midwife. They all mean the same thing.
Before training as an End-of-Life Doula, I did not know one's death could be so many things. I never thought about orchestrating the space to the desires of the person dying. The role of a death doula will be what the family wants it to be. It could start many months before a person passes, helping create journals or legacy books and planning out, to the best ability, how one would like to pass. In other words, what does the space look like, is there music and what kind, do you want to be read to, is everyone welcome to visit, would you like candles or scents.... So many ideas! A doula may be hired only to sit vigil with a person who is alone or whose family cannot be present. A doula can also help the family with the grieving process after the death and/or can help plan the service or funeral. A doula works alongside hospice, not to be confused with the role hospice plays. A doula cannot administer medications, unless licensed to do so, and speaks up on behalf of the client.
So, death doulas offer support in various ways during the death process. Every doula offers different services and do not be afraid to ask for something you do not see posted on their website. We are here to help and try to accommodate.
Please look at my Death Cafe Meetings (under More tab) because this certainly could be a topic to discuss! Death Cafe meetings are free without agenda. More information can also be found on www.inspiredbyearth.com.