An end-of-life doula is a trained volunteer who provides companionship and comfort for those who are actively dying and support for their families and loved ones.
Doulas are often associated with childbirth – an assistant who helps usher in new life. An end-of-life doula is similar – an assistant who helps in the transition at the end of life.
The purpose of an end-of-life doula is to protect the sacred space of dying through the gift of intentional presence. To accomplish this, the end-of-life doula may:
- Provide companionship to the patient and loved ones
- Offer a listening ear
- Provide comfort measures
- Sit vigil
- Be a calming presence
- Provide respite for caregivers
- Encourage reminiscing and family rituals such as prayer, singing and reading
The goal of an end-of-life doula is “to be like water and flow to the place where there’s a need.”
The end-of-life doulas at Good Samaritan Hospice have been Family Support Volunteers for at least a year and have completed additional training on what to expect at the final hours of a person’s life.
"You matter because you are you; you matter to the last moment of your life, and we will do all we can, not only to help you die peacefully, but also to help you live until you die."
- Cicely Saunders, MD, Founder of St. Christopher's Hospice