“We are all just walking each other home.”

~Ram Dass

As a society, we are beginning to reconsider our understanding of death and dying. We are seeking a meaningful, personal and community based involvement with the dying, death and after-death care of our loved ones. This is where a death doula can help.

The reality is, we are dying slowly, with chronic illness, living with advanced illness for many years before death.

For instance, in a perfect world we would empower each other to die well. How can we do this, you may ask? There are a number of ways, including providing companionship, presenting and supporting various end of life options and choices. Working with a death doula to help navigate the death process, including loss and transformation and loss reoccurrence.

What is a Death Doula?

The word “doula” is Greek for servant or helper. Like a birth doula supports women during the labor process, a death doula supports a person during the dying process. This support is specific to that person’s needs, beliefs, and desires. Death is a process that can span over months or even years rather than an event and doulas can help with supporting and planning for the future, regardless of diagnosis or illness. Having a conversation or making a plan when you are healthy, is encouraged by doulas so that the care received at the end of life is appropriate and aligned with your wishes.

“Grief is a delicate dance. A dance that reminds you of your capacity to love.  I hope when grief comes over to dance you honour it by opening your arms to the dance.” 

~Author Unknown

A Death Doula serves as a guide and advocate for the dying and the community around them as they are facing death. The role of an end-of-life Doula can be to:

  • Provide a steady and solid person to guide through transitions
  • Provide space for their client to go inward
  • Advocate when things get overwhelming
  • Help make death meaningful and easy
  • Help to humanize death
  • Use their personal experience with death and dying
  • Help navigate systems

The types of services a Death Doula can provide include, but are not limited to:

  • Planning based on your current situation and anticipation of future support needed
  • Preparation of advance care plans to ensure your medical wishes are carefully considered and legally respected
  • Engaging both your loved ones and outside help to allow you to live comfortably at home for as long as you wish
  • Vigil support as the person approaches end of life and bereavement care for your loved ones after your passing
  • Preparation of advance care plans to ensure your medical wishes are carefully considered and legally respected
  • Emotional care
  • Planning and preparation (logistic support)
  • Connection to resources (right to die with dignity)
  • Family facilitation (therapeutic support)
  • Home organization
  • Pre-death, post-death support

Véronique’s approach is holistic, offering individual and person-centric quality care. She sees death as a process, rather than an event, that takes place over time. at Art de Vivre, we see building relationships with the person as the key to supporting them in their journey.

Meet Véronique

Véronique Brideau, MSW, RSW, PhD (candidate), is an assistant professor and Social Work program coordinator at Universite Sainte-Anne . She holds a degree in Social Work from St. Thomas University, a Masters degree from Dalhousie University and is currently pursuing a PhD of Social Work in the area of complex grief from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Véronique’s passion for death and dying began after experiencing the loss of a loved one by suicide as a 13 year old. Véronique has dedicated herself to expanding education and services surrounding mental health, addiction, suicide prevention and grief and loss.

A Journey through life and death

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