I am an End of Life Doula, Registered Nurse, and have worked in end of life care environments, in various capacities, in and outside of hospice since 2000. I have wonderful things in store for future doulas!
One of my earliest memories of death was when I was about 7 years old and someone close to our family died. I heard people in my family talking about the death and when I asked to go to the funeral, I was told "no", and a hush fell over the room. Years later, when I was 13 and living in Laredo, Texas, my grandmother said to me one day "C'mon, get your shoes and come with me." She didn't say where we were going or what we were about to do.
We walked down the rocky, unpaved streets of our neighborhood to her friend's home. Her friend was dying. When we walked into the room there were several other women, all sitting quietly with their veils on praying. There was a majestic reverence in the room that is hard to describe. I was profoundly affected by this experience and felt so honored that my grandmother included me in this vigil. Years later, before I became a nurse, I learned to care for the dying in a very personal way during the year of my grandmother's own dying (thanks to my aunts who showed me how to take tender loving care of her at home).
Fast forward to 1999. It became clear in my second semester of nursing school that my work would be with those of us who are dying. I was supported and encouraged by my professors to follow my heart and within three months of receiving my RN license in 2000, I was training at a local hospice.
Throughout the last several years I have worked in oncology, long term acute care, and skilled nursing facilities, but mostly within hospice in various roles. In each setting, what became overwhelmingly clear to me was that there was so much needless suffering going on and that I wanted to be part of changing that. During this time, two additional family members died from lengthy illnesses that were very precious to me.
After the sudden, rapid decline and death of my mother from cholangiocarcinoma on June 15, 2005, I decided to start my private practice as a doula to the dying and their families. As I went to various places to let people know I was available for this, people had so many questions on how to deal with life-limiting illness in general. My talks then began to be about pre-hospice palliative care.
One thing led to another and I found myself consulting with families regarding palliative issues and created Quality of Life Care, LLC (QLC). Being a nurse is the way that I have been able to serve the dying and I feel very blessed and fortunate to have been able to do so. We each have our unique gifts and special callings. You too will find your own way to reach the dying, express your passion, and serve. If you would like help getting there, I'd love to to be there for you.
Peace to you.