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What does a death doula do?

Marjorie Lewis-Jones via South Sydney Herald

10 Oct 2023

Renee spoke with Marjorie on all things end of life doula.

RENEE Adair is a “womb to tomb” doula. She’s also the founder and director of the Australian Doula College based in Marrickville. Some of us might know what a birth doula does – providing non-medical support and information to parents in pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. But what does a death doula do?

Renee: Being an end-of-life doula is about filling the gaps, offering resources, information, kindness and compassion, but most importantly, providing continuity of care. Continuity of care is missing today in our systems, and most people will die in hospital not knowing that they have other options. Research has proven time and again that when we’re going through major life transitions, continuity of care is key for how we experience that transition and how we carry that forward, whether that’s positively or negatively, into the rest of our lives.

In Australia, we do death and birth pretty badly. There’s little to no emotional support within the systems we’re birthing and dying in. We’ve lost the experience of caring for our dying person and, as individuals, we are frightened of death. Death was handed over to funeral directors about 100 years ago. I think a medium like a doula has a really unique opportunity to bring back that compassionate community that was lost, and to give families the power and the dying person the power to die in the way that they want to, surrounded by loved ones – because that’s what we deserve, to have a better experience of dying and, for those left behind, not to walk away feeling traumatised.


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