Death doulas

Funeral candles

Funeral candlesI came across this fascinating article the other day about a new trend call death doulas or death midwives. Essentially, this is a person who helps families navigate through the many and complex decisions that must be made toward the end of a loved one’s life, up until the point of the funeral, memorial or other service.

I’ve read a lot over the years about mourning and about burial. Until about 100 years ago, something like this would have been entirely unnecessary because death was not medicalized to the extent that it is today. People died at home, surrounded by family, and were not as afraid of death as we have come to be these days. With the increased medicalization of so many aspects of our lives, we have become more and more afraid of death, which is where the death doula steps in.

The story referenced about talks about a woman who lost her son, and who was assisted in making decisions about how to say goodbye, both in the hospital and at the funeral. It’s lovely that she was able to get that support, but at the same time I find it a bit sad that we have become so divorced from the end of life that she didn’t know that she had options.