As a death doula, you can call on me to be by your side when you, or someone you love, is dying. You can think of me as the mountain you can lean on, the ocean you can cry into, and the sun that warms you during the most challenging time of your life. My job is to go above and beyond to help the dying to surrender into death with ease, comfort, peace, and a sense of completion, while ensuring that every witness and bystander feels supported through the emotions of their loss and grief.
What is a Death Doula?
A death doula is an individual that offers non-medical support to the dying and their loved ones. A death doula is a person that offers a deeper understanding and broader perspective of death. Of course none of us can avoid death, and still most would rather avoid the subject altogether. As a society we have been conditioned to fear death. Images of the grim reaper come to mind. Yet death wasn’t always demonized as the unfortunate counterpart to life. Death used to be revered as a sacred passages. As a death doula, it is my intention to restore death to its rightful place by facilitating meaningful experiences for the dying and their loved ones in the last hours, weeks, months, and sometimes years.
A death doula cannot take away pain or extinguish fear, but she can offer comfort and assurance during a time when there are more questions than answers.
I work with:
- Individuals who have a terminal diagnosis, and their families + loved ones
- Individuals under palliative care, who weren’t given a terminal diagnoses, but have been touched deeply by the “Angel of Death” and feel called to integrate and process the experience, preventing and / or addressing post-traumatic stress symptoms
- Individuals who have died, and loved ones who have been left behind
- Individuals that have experienced the loss of a loved one and require grief support
- Individuals that feel called to lean into their own death, near or far, to learn how to live more truly and fully (find out more about my Dying to Live Program)
Why did I become a Death Doula?
As with all roles carried out by individuals in society, one has to wonder if the calling, or profession, chose us, or we chose it. Both seem equally true in my case.
Life brought death early into my awareness. One of my most vivid childhood memories is the moment I realized that I was going to die. I was about five at the time, and couldn’t quite comprehend what death meant, just that this thing called Life was going to end sooner or later as I knew it to be. At the time, I didn’t have elders who were willing to speak openly about the subject. Something I now understand as a defense mechanism against the memories of a war that wasn’t distant enough to allow to return to its rightful place – as something sacred. I grew up in what was known at the time still as East Germany and was very much shaped by unspoken stories of relatives and neighbours that were taken far too early by this monster called War.
In my early teenage years, I meditated often on my own death, without realizing it at the time. Perhaps it was a type of preparation for what awaited me in my young adulthood year: Cancer.
They say that one can only take another as far as one has been. I have encountered death – personally, intimately, deeply. For many years, I tried to run from it, forget it, negate it, bully it away. And still, death lingered, like a loyal dog, persistent in its duty to win over my love.
Fighting the inevitable is a tiresome endeavour. So eventually, I gave in – surrendered – and leaned into death. “Yes, I see you. What is it you so badly want from me?,” I began the inquiry. First with annoyance, and then slowly, and increasingly, with humbled tenderness. I found myself relaxing into its presence, and that, for me, has been one of the most important decisions I have made in this life.
Death has been one of my most loyal teachers, right next to – or more so woven into – Life itself. I am honoured and deeply grateful to serve as a messenger to Death, encouraging others to find the loving space in their hearts to welcome it too, as part of every day living. If you allow me, I will share with you what I have learned, guide you gently into the darkness that surrounds death, and help you navigate your way through the many faces and phases of it.