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What is an End of Life Doula?

The word “doulé” is an ancient Greek word meaning “Woman’s servant”.

An “End-of-Life Doula” or “Death Midwife” provides emotional, social and spiritual support to the dying, and to those around them. They help open up the conversation about death and loss – a topic that is often deemed too uncomfortable yet can offer great relief to all. Or on a more practical level, they will provide company if/when the family needs to take breaks, or help set up a community support system.

An End-of-Life Doula is a non-clinical care role that bridges the gap between medical practitioners and the dying person. You can engage a doula early in an end-of-life journey, to prepare the end-of-life plan and support documents like an Advance Care Directive. Picaluna doula’s can also set up a pre-arranged funeral and pre-paid funeral plans.

An End-of-Life Doula is there to carry out the dying person’s end of life wishes, as well as to preserve the quality of life, well-being and integrity, up to and beyond the physical death, with gentleness, kindness and respect.

Should you need an End-of-Life Doula, Picaluna offer the following people:

North Shore – Sarah Foster

Sarah is a qualified oncology and palliative care social worker. She works as an end of life doula as well as a funeral director and funeral celebrant. Sarah has a passion for talking to people about all things ‘end of life’ and believes deeply in the notion that knowledge is power.

In her role as an end of life doula she can guide a family through the use of a cooling bed at home. Her personal and professional experience allows her to provide a more wholistic service and a continuity of care in the end of life space.

Northern Beaches – Kathryn Breusch

Kathryn Breusch – End of Life Care & Death Doula – Funeral Director and Celebrant

In days gone by, we used to care for our loved ones at home after death. We washed and dressed them, contacted the local carpenter to make the coffin or made it ourselves, held a vigil where neighbours, family and friends gathered at the family home. It was a time when community came together in support of the family.

With these values in mind, it is still possible for you or your loved one to be cared for at home (or brought home from hospital) after death. Sure, it’s not for everyone but if it feels right for your family, let’s discuss the practical, emotional and spiritual aspects to ensure these final acts of love are managed with dignity, respect and grace.

Central Coast – Sarah Tolmie

Sarah Tolmie – End-of-Life Consulting (Death Doula – Vigils – Grief Care & Chaplaincy)

Picaluna Funeral Director and Celebrant Sarah Tolmie can also offer a full end-of-life consulting and care practice. Sarah is an end-of-life consultant and trained in death doula practices and basic body care mortuary assisting. Sarah is also a grief and bereavement specialist therapist and hospital trained in spiritual & clinical chaplaincy.

Sarah can often work with families well before a death occurs, helping individuals and families navigate the practical, emotional, relational and spiritual challenges when faced with life limiting illness and terminal diagnoses. Her broad suite of services provides support for individuals and their families as they navigate through the practical, emotional and spiritual journey of illness, dying, death and grief.

Summary of Sarah’s Consulting, Funeral and Doula Services

  • Emotional, relational and spiritual ‘pastoral’ care and personal coaching through illness, dying and death (as well as grief & bereavement specialist counselling);
  • Development of support plans and facilitating the conversations at difficult times of treatment/or end of treatment, palliative care and final living pathways;
  • Presence and guidance for the family during the active phase of death (end-of-life vigils);
  • After death care (including first body care rituals such as washing/dressing, anointing, shrouding) and at home Vigils and funeral rites;

Sarah has also put together a FREE VIDEO RESOURCE