As EOL Doulas we are advocates for
people who may not know about
palliative care prior to hospice and
would love to know their options for
relief of their suffering without
having to sign up for hospice. The
reality is that so many people will
never come to hospice and they need
more support as they die in the
healthcare system (outside of
Your practice needs to address this aspect as well. Supporting people who are dying is not just about doing vigil the last days of life when the person is on hospice. It is about serving the dying who may not want to die, who may not have adequate palliative care.
and who are suffering with no idea how to change that. We need to have a certain awareness as we structure our role as an end-of-life doula so that people understand where we fit in and how to use us. We need to educate our healthcare institutions about how we help THEM, not replace them. Your practice needs to have these components as part of your marketing.
This new role, that of end-of-life doula, is the amazing 'bridge' role that we need. A holistic, non-medical role of someone who is expert in end of life support and who can accompany and guide a family alongside the medical care they are receiving now. We are an extra set of eyes, hands, and loving presence. We are guides to supportive and palliative care before hospice entry. We are extra hands and presence at the bedside and with a family during final hours. We can do all of that.
This role also has its very own set of rules and subtleties about it. It is not like any other role. There are unique barriers to the field that are more than just that “people don’t know you are here yet.” Don't be hard on yourself when you can't figure all of this out in one weekend doula training. It truly is not possible to learn the art and skill and practical aspects in that way, in such a short time. It really takes time to be comfortable and confident coming into your community as an end-of-life doula in private practice.
Once you know the art of serving the dying, and are comfortable with THAT, then a whole new issue arises: Developing your practice.
Having been there myself, these questions make perfect sense. I had the same barriers when I began over 15 years ago. I have learned so much in the process, mostly from all the mistakes—mistakes that:
I learned more from my mistakes than I did from my successes, and thankfully there were many of those too!
Trust me when I say to you: As you read through the 3 Keys to Starting Your EOL Doula Practice, you may feel awkward right now, but over time, as you learn more about these principles and practice them, you will feel better. I promise!
Key #1: You must get comfortable with promoting yourself. Period. Otherwise you will be shy about it and that shyness looks like insecurity, even if it's not. People want confident care providers. You must face the fact that you must publicly tell people why you are a person they should invite into their home and family at a vulnerable time. Why are you worthy to take a chance on?
Key #2: You must know how to work with people who are dealing with heavy emotions one-on-one, in couples and in groups. You must continue to better your skills in this area. People are sometimes very afraid and often there can be chaos and misinformation between people and differing views.
Key #3: To be a guide, educator, and someone that people look to help them at the end of life, you actually need to have experience at the end of life. You can't just have one or two family members you have journeyed with. To serve strangers as a professional end-of-life doula, you must have in depth knowledge and experience. How else will you guide them? How else can you state in promotional material that you can actually guide them through this time?
As you build the structure of your practice, you must build that structure on the foundation of those three key concepts. By moving through this learning curve and implementing these concepts, you’ll begin to build your practice with a strong base.
Be kind to yourself. We were not born knowing how to do this. If it does not come naturally to you, you are in very good company. Most ventures such as this require you to study with a mentor, someone who knows how to guide you through unfamiliar territory.
Love to you on your journey as you lay the foundation to the framework of your private practice. I am so happy to share with you what I have learned from hard won experience and it is my honor to help you get to where YOU want to be.
We are all in this together. We are changing the geography of dying, one person at a time. If we build strong supports for ourselves, the doula in private practice, we will be able to sustain this beautiful service for years to come.
Join us for our "2019 Master Class LIVE! Practice Development for End of Life Doulas/Coaches/Guides/Specialists." Its our 3rd annual and sells out (we like to keep it small :) Learn more HERE
Free Workshop Series: What is Holding You Back From Serving At the End of Life?
If You KNOW You Are Ready Now to Join Us and Become a
Certified End of Life Doula:
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