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death doulas

Death Doulas and Role in End-of-Life Care

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The passing of a loved one often leads to costly family conflicts. Leaving a clear advance directive using death doulas can help.

Death doulas, or end-of-life doulas, also known as death midwives, provide holistic care to the terminally ill. They offer compassionate guidance and comfort and create an open and supportive environment. A death always involves hard conversations, but a death doula can help make it easier. Involving a death doula in end-of-life care can help ensure your wishes for your family persist when you’re gone.

What Do Death Doulas Do for End-of-Life Care?

Death doulas provide emotional, spiritual, and practical support for terminally ill people. Fortune shares the story of Erin Collins, an end-of-life doula from Oregon. She helped a 91-year-old man find peace during his final days by providing honest answers to questions he was afraid to ask. This compassionate, informed support is invaluable to those facing end-of-life care decisions.

Death doulas are similar to hospice care in that they offer counseling and other nonmedical services, but they are not licensed to provide medical assistance. They can be brought in at any time in a person’s life, including after a life-changing illness, a terminal diagnosis, or when death is imminent.

Why are Advance Directives So Important?

Advance directives provide written instructions that outline a person’s end-of-life care preferences. Families can more easily agree on the best course of action with an advance directive. Susanne Leigh, for instance, believed she knew what her mother wanted after she died. However, Susanne had no written instructions to prove it. Family members had conflicting opinions, and this resulted in the hospital keeping her mother alive for months. She was unconscious for the duration and had no quality of life.

Death doulas recognize the importance of advance directives and assist families in creating them. They accurately record the dying person’s values and beliefs, and they act to protect these values. This spares loved ones from tough decisions, family conflict, and avoidable strife.

How Do Advance Care Plans Create Peace of Mind?

For National Advance Care Planning Day (April 16), Island Health shared the story of Maggie Schulz. Maggie is a patient partner with Island Health, and she stresses the peace of mind that advanced care plans brought her husband. He had clearly documented and communicated his wishes, and he could pass knowing his wishes would persist.

What Steps Should You Take to Create an Advance Care Plan?

End-of-life care is always daunting, and formulating an advanced care plan isn’t easy. However, it can be a little easier with these five steps:

  • Think: Reflect on your values, beliefs, and wishes for end-of-life care.
  • Learn: Understand various medical procedures and their implications.
  • Decide: Identify a substitute decision-maker to advocate for you.
  • Talk: Share your wishes with loved ones and healthcare providers.
  • Record: Write down your wishes or create an audio/video message.

If you need further help, contact our law firm for an initial consultation to create a medical directive and advanced care plan.

Plan for Peace of Mind in End of Life Care

Don’t leave your final wishes up to chance. Instead, work with an estate planning attorney to incorporate advance directives into your end-of-life care. If you’d like, that can involve a death doula who’ll work to understand you, your values, and your priorities. Reach out to our law firm today and develop the right end-of-life care strategy for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Death doulas: Holistic, impartial support during end-of-life care makes all the difference.
  • Advance directives: Documenting your preferences is essential to avoid family conflicts.
  • Plan ahead: Use the five steps to ponder and document your end-of-life preferences.

References: Fortune (May 8, 2024) “Meet the death doulas who bring comfort to people at the end of their lives”

Islandhealth (April. 16, 2024) “April 16 is National Advance Care Planning Day – It’s about conversations and sharing your wishes | Island Health”