While there are plenty of healthcare professions who deal with the process of birth, there are fewer professionals who deal with the process of dying and death. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there is a growing need for such professional. Keep reading to find out more information the duties of a death doula as well as training and certification information.
What Does an End of Life Doula Do?
End of life doulas provide guidance and support to families and their dying loved ones through the process of dying. This includes spiritual or religious support, through prayer or other religious practices, according to the preference of the family. She also eases the anxiety of the family members through communication of what to expect as well as through reassurance, companionship, and attending vigils with the dying. Easing the transition between the dying and death for the family is another major role of an end of life doula. Helping family members through the grieving process is one of the final roles of a death doula.
How to Become an Death Doula
While there is no requirement for formal training, there are training programs available for doulas who are interested in becoming an end of life doula. Such programs provide mentorship from experienced death doulas. The curriculum focuses on active listening and engagement with your clients as well as educational topics on the process of dying and grieving. A significant part of the training deals with providing vigils to dying patients in their final days.
There are other ways to become an end of life doula if you choose not to enroll in a training program. One popular alternative is to volunteer at a hospice and attend vigils with the families of terminally ill patients. This relies on the trust and relationship you have built with the members of the hospice and may take some time.
End of Life Doula Certification
Some end of life doula training programs grant a certification if you complete the program. The benefits of certification include being taught by certified instructors, being able to network with established death doulas, and showing potential clients that you have passed a standard of education set forth by a certification organization. However, it is not a requirement and many end of life doulas work without a certification.
Currently, there are several certification programs that offer an end of life doula certification (listed below). Additionally, DONA and CAPPA do not offer a certification at this time. Please consider that there is no formally accreditation that is conferred to these programs, however, they are useful for receiving structured training.
International End of Life Doula Association - INELDA offers end of life doula certification that focuses on attending vigils in order to gain experience. The classes are taught by a certified INELDA instructor.
Accompanying the Dying - A 16 week certification program that offers 1-on-1 mentorship with the program's founder.