What is a Death Doula and Should You Hire One?

Posted by: Erin Ward in Funeral Planning Resources, Funeral Advice | July 8, 2021
More and more families are hiring death doulas. Just do a quick Google search for “rise in death doulas” and you can see for yourself all the search results that pop up.

You’re probably wondering, what exactly is a death doula and should I hire one? After reading this article, you’ll be able to answer those questions. Let’s jump right into it.

Defining Death Doula

Doulas are often associated with childbirth, but there are doulas for end-of-life care as well as the beginning of life. Like how you want childbirth to go smoothly, you also want someone’s last moments to be comfortable. That’s where a death doula comes in.

Also known as a death midwife, end-of-life coach, and by many other names, Doulagivers defines a death doula as a “non-medical person trained to care for someone holistically (physically, emotionally and spiritually) at the end of life.” Ultimately, their goal is to help make the dying person as comfortable as possible. They also help their family come to terms with their loved one‘s death and find ways to honor them.

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that funeral directors and death doulas are NOT the same. While they often work together to properly honor the deceased, they have different roles in end-of-life care. Some of a funeral director’s responsibilities may include embalming the body, making the funeral arrangements, and conducting the burial or cremation. While a death doula may help find ways to personalize the service, they aren’t involved in the care of the body or making the arrangements.

Instead, death doulas are more focused on helping the family during someone’s last days. They may ask the dying person how they want to be remembered and help them reflect on their life. Once they pass, a doula helps their family process the death and grieve their loss.

The Benefits of Working with a Death Doula

One major benefit of working with a doula is that you have an outsider’s perspective on how to care for your loved one. With their experience and knowledge, you know that your loved one is in good hands. By having an end-of-life plan and someone to go to for advice, it may help everyone feel less stressed and more at ease.

It always relieves the burden of one of your family members having to organize their loved one’s end-of-life care. By having a doula as the go-to person, a family member isn’t burdened with this on top of processing their grief.

Working with a doula for an end-of-life plan also can help ease your family into the funeral planning process. This way, you’re already in the mindset of end-of-life planning. You can even use what you learned about your loved one during your work with the doula to create a service that’s unique to your loved one.

How to Decide if Hiring a Death Doula Is Right for You

If you want additional support during the end-of-life process, a doula may be right for you. Understandably, some people may be uncomfortable at the thought of a stranger caring for their loved one. However, you may find comfort in knowing that the doula has the training and compassion to give your loved one the best care possible.

According to Cake, the cost of hiring a death doula varies. Some of them charge one-time fees, while others charge hourly or daily rates. There are even doulas that don’t charge anything and provide their services for free, so you may need to do some research on death doulas near you. You also can check with your local funeral home to see if they have any death doulas they frequently work with or recommend.

Only you and your loved ones can decide if a death doula is right for you. After reading this article, I hope the decision is a little bit easier.

Have you ever worked with a death doula? Share your experience with us in the comments!

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