The world "doula” comes from a Greek word which means “woman who serves.” Traditionally doulas are present at the birth of a child bringing knowledge, emotional and spiritual support. We believe the way we leave this world is as important as the way we enter it.
An End-of-Life Doula is not a new concept. Indigenous cultures for thousands of years have supported the practice of people staying in their homes to die, looked after by family and community. However, in the western world there is a trend towards nursing homes and hospitalization which can lead to isolation, lack of choice and opportunity for all concerned. Death, which is inevitable, can become a lonely and sombre ‘medicalised’ experience. (Australian Doula College)
Death is the natural and sacred end of life – one certainty that every human being will experience, yet something we are often unfamiliar with. A Deathwalker is someone who can accompany the dying person and the bereaved through their journey. (Natural Death Care Centre)
A Deathwalker is a person who:-
• walks their own journey towards their death as openly, courageously and as best they can.
• walks with, or accompanies someone else in their death journey, ie the dying person, family or friends.
Interesting links about understanding and talking about the dying process:
- Being Mortal (PBS, America) - video
- Death Cafes - web site linking to international meetups where people gather to discuss death and dying