From blogs, videos, podcasts and interviews, here you'll find resources that answer your questions about being an end-of-life doula.
Know that public awareness has grown fast in just the last 3 years alone; trust that; 4) Know our multifaceted role and own your piece of it; and 5) Know what service most people associate with this role and and be able to address it.
Ok, let's dive into these 5 important awarenesses you must have to save time and serve more people with confidence.
Get the Word Out about your Service BEFORE you are 'totally' ready.
Too many doulas are not promoting their services or even talking much about them (or not with confidence) because they do not have every thing in place the way they want it.
Or they don't feel they are good enough as they are which is cloaked in statements like, "I dont have my website up," or "I dont have my business cards." Translation: I don't feel like I am enough right now.
All you need to do is begin to talk to people about what you do. Say you are available, have a figure in mind that you will charge per hour to give them a taste of what you have to offer; be willing even to give it for free in exchange for a testimonial, to get your feet wet.
It is better to get out there and make a bunch of mistakes and learn and grow (yes, even in public), than it is to be frustrated not doing what you want to do, staying home knowing you are needed, especially now.
Know the #1 Tool of the Doula inside and out and take FANTASTIC care of it.
The number one tool is you. You must believe that and feel it and know it with every fiber of your being. It is YOU period. Human, loving, compassionate, curious, quiet, listening you.
Your skill set, your education, your experience, your other roles, your other tools (like legacy, guided visualization, therapy, etc) are not as important as your being, your presence, your listening ear, your loving heart.
You need to know this. If you did, you would be out in the community letting everyone you know you are here to serve. You would want this service for them.
When you know this is true, you invest in your tool, you are kind to it, you rest, you give it a break, you sharpen it, you spend time on it, and with it, you learn more about it, you practice with it. You will invest in it.
Know the shift in public awareness has happened in a big way and trust it and act on it.
When you are confident that the tides have turned, even if your small town is clueless about the movement, you have oodles and oodles of articles now and "proof" that this really is a "thing."
We used to have none of that back in the early 2000s. People used to look at me with a blank look on their face. It was foreign though in many ways and there were no articles, blogs (except mine) or any references about 'end of life doulas' or end of life midwives. There was no momentum and no hope of having any, any time soon. It took almost 10 years from when I began to see what is happening now.
And what is happening now is mind blowing. You are in a much better position now. You can have confidence in your back up now. You can refer to people who have actually experienced end of life doulas.
Hospices even have doulas in their programs. Our national trade organization, NHPCO, has an End of Life Doula Advisory Council. My years being Chair of this Council has brought much awareness of all the gains we have made in 20 years. We have a national membership organization, The National End-of-Life Doula alliance creating standards and helping to bring understanding to the role. As a founder of this organization, I am very honored to be a part of this groundbreaking work. You have all of this behind you.
You can walk with confidence with all of this support to stand upon.
You Must Know our multi-faceted role and really 'own' your specialty within it.
Although it is wise to have all 3 aspects of care in your practice (before, during and after death components), you can specialize in an area. That is just fine as long as you know all the other aspects to the role (which are vast).
The National End-of-Life Doula Alliance's definition of the end of life doula is:
End-of-life doulas provide non-medical, holistic support and comfort to the dying person and their family, which may include education and guidance as well as emotional, spiritual or practical care, from as early as initial diagnosis through bereavement.
As you can easily see, this is a broad role and within each of these aspects of the definition are a myriad of ways a person may provide education, guidance and services.
Work hard wherever you are to know many people in your area that you can call upon. Have referral sources ready to give to the people you are working with if what they need during your time together is not something you do.
Take ownership of your business and your skills and do not try and be all things to all people or you will serve no one well.
Know what service most people associate with this role and be able to address it.
Yes, it's the vigil role. Most doulas feel they must provide this (even when they don't want to). And yes, most doulas really want to provide this.
This is fantastic news to really get because if you are a doula who would rather focus on another area of the dying time, you KNOW there will be plenty of people you can bring in to work with you and serve your family you are assisting.
Knowing and being accepting of what you do and do not want to do empowers your own practice and will enable you to sustain a healthy practice that you enjoy. You do not need to struggle through doing services you think you MUST do or you think are expected of you, regardless of what it is.
Knowing that most doulas love to serve during vigil will make it easy for you to gather a team together. Act on this fact with confidence in your business.
Blessings on your doula journey. Those of you who are embarking on a professional practice must ensure your ducks are in a row up to a point--but don't let that keep you from serving.
Especially during COVID-19 times, we need all of us out here in our circles providing all the support we can. You may not be at the bedside; but phone support is better than no support.
Don't wait for COVID to be over before you begin (if you are waiting for that); it won't be over for a long time coming. We are living in times we have never been in before. No one knows what's coming.
But what we DO know is people are dying in isolation; loved ones are not able to accompany their dying (regardless what they are dying of) and there is much trauma associated with the dying that is happening now due to the pandemic.
If you are imperfectly 'almost there,' come on now! We need you.
Watch the Video Here:
00.00 This right here will ruin it for you.
01:10: The #1 Tool of the trade explained
03:55: The Shift that is Happening Now
06:18: Multi-faceted role - unique bridge explained
07:40: The doula service people love!
(the rest a teaching on certain important points of this aspect).