I was sitting with a family early this morning waiting for the funeral home to arrive. The hospital was quiet and it was just the wife and daughter (of a much loved man who had just died) and I at his bedside.
In providing emotional support, we are helping to create a peaceful environment. Emotional support is the essence of our presence. During our entire walk with the dying and their family our presence is one of the most stabilizing gifts we can offer.
This article is for those people called to be a doula for the dying.
After someone has died, I encourage the family to take as long as they need to be with their loved one. I encourage them to wait before they call hospice and have as much private time as they can now because once you call hospice, action begins to remove the body.
I understand why many of us feel lost when we are in the hospital trying to find out what is wrong; we are trying to make sense of how extensive the disease process is, surgeries that are being discussed, and conflicting information we may be receiving. I know that sometimes we have great to mediocre guidance, and sometimes we have none.
My mom didn’t want to talk about dying. She was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma the Thursday after Mother’s Day 2005 and was dead the Wednesday before Father’s Day. I was in a whirlwind - just focused on caring for her. We didn’t have the conversations of missing each other, or sharing the sadness of what was happening. I longed to talk with her, but I couldn’t. She didn’t want to. She had always been a very private person with her emotions.
I appreciate what this particular death midwife is saying: "It is not mysterious or grandiose - bottom line, you're just visiting someone...at a very scary time in life."
We never know how someone feels about something until we do.
I belong to Hospice Community Forum and just had a discussion with an “11th hour volunteer”. An 11th hour volunteer is a person who sits at the bedside of the dying, usually when death is imminent or within 24 hours or so. They are very much akin to a death doula.
Most of us have heard this term. It is the noisy rattling sound a dying person makes that can be very disturbing to hear.
As a person nears the end of life, there are some very basic similarities that may be seen which cross the type of illness or 'reason' for dying.