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National Death Doula Day – April 20, 2023

National Death Doula Day is observed on April 20 every year. The day aims to engage their communities, bringing awareness to the profession and benefits for patients and families. A Death Doula is a non-medical person trained to care for someone, not only holistically, but also physically, emotionally, and spiritually at the end of life. Death Doulas are non-medical professionals that provide holistic support for the dying and their loved ones before, during, and after death. A Doula is trained in the various end-of-life stages to assist the family with understanding the natural processes while providing comfort and support.

History of National Death Doula Day

If you are wondering what a Doula is, “Doula” is a Greek word used to refer to a woman of service in ancient times. Doula came into use in the 1980s again. Referring to a person who guided a woman — and others she chose to be with her — through the birthing process. The current end-of-life doula approach models the birth doula model. A doula can also be a death doula, death midwife, death coach, or end-of-life coach — they essentially refer to the same approach.

Soon after a terminal diagnosis, doulas might get involved. They also might be involved later when the person declines more, at the point where the patient’s body begins its final breakdown. They might even get involved after a death to help loved ones start their time of grieving. The primary purpose of the doula is to provide emotional, spiritual, and physical support to everyone involved by listening deeply to the concerns, fears, hopes, and life stories of the dying person and their loved ones. In summary, the doulas’ main job is to bring them peace at the end of life. The doula holds the space for the dying experience that honors who the ill person is and used to be and helps them live with purpose up to the final breath.

This model of care is about open-hearted service. The doula meets with the dying person and their loved ones where they are emotionally and spiritually. The doula assists all involved with living their dying in the best way possible for them. At the same time, the doula will utilize their experience and expertise to offer an expanded view of dying that can bring greater meaning and comfort to this intense process.

National Death Doula Day timeline

1980
Doula Comes into Use Again

It is first used to refer to a person who guides a woman through the birthing process.

2003
The First End-of-life Program is Created

Henry Fersko-Weiss creates the first end-of-life doula program at a hospice where he serves as a social worker.

2015
International End-of-life Association is Created

Henry´s passion for serving dying patients and their loved ones as a doula lead him to co-found INELDA as a non-profit organization.

2019
National Death Doula Day is Created

This day is created by Doula givers.

National Death Doula Day FAQs

How long have death doulas been around in the United States?

In 2000, one of the first movements started in New York — a volunteer program focused on pairing so-called “doulas” with terminally ill people.

What do end-of-life doulas charge?

Death doulas are independent contractors, so some may charge an hourly rate, ranging from $25 to $100+ an hour, while others prefer to set a flat fee.

What does transitioning mean in death?

Transitioning (a very specific term in hospice care) refers to the final stages of a person’s life.

How to Observe National Death Doula Day

  1. Listen to a podcast

    There is a podcast called “Ask a Death Doula,” a weekly show hosted by Hospice and Oncology nurse Suzanne B. O’Brien. This podcast will chronicle the Death Doula movement with interviews of leaders in this progressive movement from around the world, patients, families, and Death Doulas.

  2. Encourage conversation about this profession

    On this day, the conversation about the profession of Death Doulas is encouraged. Do this anywhere in any way. Share a post on Twitter or Instagram, have a discussion panel, give training, etc.

  3. Watch a documentary

    This day may be a chance to watch a documentary about this profession. “End of Life” may be a good option.

5 Interesting Facts About Death Doulas

  1. Doulas train

    Although there is no federally mandated certification to become an end-of-life doula in the United States, many private organizations offer education or certification programs.

  2. They volunteer

    Doulas obtain volunteer experience at a hospice.

  3. They do not compete with funeral directors

    While funeral directors interact with families post-death, end-of-life doulas are present with families before, during, and after death occurs.

  4. Every doula is different

    Some doulas assist only the healthy, and some aid only the dying, so it is best to interview doula to see where they specialize.

  5. They are experts at listening

    Doulas listen to each other with an open heart guide.

Why National Death Doula Day is Important

  1. Doulas help families at difficult times

    Death doulas help families at difficult and sad times. They help people reduce confusion and mistrust when interacting with death care professionals.

  2. Doulas help people to make choices

    Before someone becomes unable to speak and make decisions, a doula works with them to figure out every detail of what they would consider their ideal passing and what they want to listen to at the end. This brings a great deal of comfort to the afflicted.

  3. Doulas help to reduce stress

    Doulas´services increase satisfaction which leads to more referrals and reduced intake stress. A doula burdens some tasks from the family to provide care for the individual going through the dying process but also gives the individual psychological and emotional support.

National Death Doula Day dates

YearDateDay
2023April 20Thursday
2024April 20Saturday
2025April 20Sunday
2026April 20Monday
2027April 20Tuesday

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