What an important time in the history for the end of life doula movement!
Our national trade organization, The Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is creating an End of Life Doula Council to educate both consumers and hospices and palliative care clinics about end of life doulas, how everyone can use doulas and how doulas can serve the hospice and palliative care industry.
Leading end of life doula trainers will meet in Washington DC in April during the NHPCO's Management and Leadership Conference, to discuss the details of the council and our role within it. Celebration!!!!
So many people have contributed to this day, not just the individuals in the so-called "end of life doula" movement. There have been many individuals and groups within the death empowerment movement who have worked just as hard: home funeral guides, advance directives platforms, talk about death platforms, ie; Death Cafes, etc, Thanatology studies (ADEC), Palliative Care Leaders and more. So many people's work has led to this day, which together is proving to be quite the momentum.
And even though it feels like it took us forever to get here, it happened very quickly--everything was in perfect alignment.
Last year during this time, I phoned the NHPCO and spoke with them and asked for their guidance and opinion. We spoke about the end of life doula movement and its evolution and that even though we were new on the scene, from what I was experiencing in my own School and what I was hearing from other trainers, there was a huge swell of people being trained as end of life doulas and wanting to serve and bridge the gaps that are present in health and death care. They aren't social workers, nurses, chaplains and CNAs (some are) for the most part. They want to serve the dying more than they can do as a volunteer. How could we bring them in the fold?
End of Life Doula trainers were all individually spinning their own webs and making a dent, but I couldn't help but think how more powerful we could be together. And, to have a home within our national trade organization was definitely in my heart as something that would be so nourishing for everyone but it seemed so out of reach at the time, it wasn't even on my mind at the time.
We agreed that a meeting of leaders would be the appropriate next step.
They invited all the leading trainers and several showed up in San Diego last year (September 2017) at the Management and Leadership Conference. Those of us who went wanted to continue to talk and work together. One thing led to another quickly and we formed an alliance, The National End of Life Doula Alliance. We invited all the trainers who had been invited to San Diego as well as the ones who couldn't attend as well. Those that said "yes!" (besides me) were Patty Burgess (Teaching Transitions), Suzanne Obrien (Doulagivers), Merrilynn Rush (Lifespan Doula), Tarron Estes (Conscious Dying Institute) and Lee Webster (former ED of the National Home Funeral Alliance).
2 huge historic collaborations in one year!
The End of Life Doula Council within the NHPCO, will enable us to educate and inform how end of life doulas may be helpful to people at the end of life and hospices and palliative care organizations. The National End of Life Doula Alliance is the first and only organization devoted to all end of life doulas and end of life doula trainers, not just one training program. I am honored to be serving as founding member and Vice President of NEDA and to be a founding member of the End of Life Doula Council.
When my mother died in 2005, my main focus was alerting everyone that the medicine and care we use in hospice is appropriate long before hospice entry. I was thrilled to be a part of the non-hospice palliative care movement during that time. My biggest pain was seeing all the suffering people went through before they were labeled "terminal." It did not make sense to me that you had to be labeled "terminal" to get the best care possible during serious illness.
Also, I was serving families as an end of life doula in private practice (my own VBAC home birth experience with midwives gave me the idea to be the "death midwife" and channel all my hospice nursing to families privately after my mom's death). As I blogged about all of this, people came to me in droves wanting to serve as I was as an end of life doula. In the process of sharing how to do this, I teach all about palliative care and its use outside of hospice. Its a perfect combination. So much dying happens outside of hospice and people need us there too.
It is an honor to be in the flow of helping lay people and professionals bring peace and dignity to the end of life. It is my honor to serve others who want to marry their passion, wisdom and skills with the fullness of end of life education and training to accompany others in the best way possible. I am eternally grateful to be a part of this.
It is not about me for sure, but it is my birthday season and part of what I do is reflect on the prior year and make decisions on what outcomes I want for the coming year. This is the best birthday gift ever to be a part of something so beautiful and so powerful and watch it blossom and be valued and respected. That is what is happening. And because I took a chance, a big dive in the deep end when I was terrified, I had something to do with it.
I encourage you to do the same. What are you waiting for? If you have something to say, something to share, a way to help, come on! We need you. ♥
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