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  • Karen Midlo

What is an End-of-Life Doula?

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

Conversations around death and dying can be difficult to have. The experiences of the last few years have brought death and dying closer to home for many. The number of End-of-Life (EOL) Doulas have been growing to provide a safe and comfortable space with compassionate professionals to have these conversations.


The word doula comes from the Greek word doule, which translates to helper or maidservant. You may have heard about birthing doulas- a trained professional that assists someone before, during and after childbirth. Similarly, an EOL doula is a trained professional who assists a dying person and their loved ones before, during and after death.


End-of-Life doulas provide non-medical support, companionship, guidance, education and comfort to people who are dealing with a terminal illness or death. Doulas normalize deathcare by creating space to hold conversation and to increase communication, emotional and/or spiritual well-being for patients and their loved ones. They assist the dying person plan for their death and give them the ability to clearly define their end-of-life wishes. EOL doulas will advocate the dying person's wishes and needs while working together with health-care providers, family and friends.


So, what exactly does an EOL doula do? Each dying person's needs are unique and an EOL doula's services can include any one of the following:


  • Providing the opportunity to speak openly and honestly about the dying process.

  • Exploring the meaning of the dying person's life and legacy.

  • Discussing and supporting end-of-life care planning.

  • Developing a plan for how the room looks, feels, sounds and smells.

  • Assisting with physical and practical care to ease the burden on caregivers.

  • Explaining signs and symptoms of the dying process.

  • Sitting vigil with a person as they near their final moments.

  • Help with identifying and advocating for other professional services.

  • Assisting with obituaries and planning funeral or ceremonial services.

  • Guidance for loved ones during the initial stages of grieving.


Conversations about end-of-life desires and legacies can be difficult to discuss with family members. An EOL doula can be present and listen to the needs of the person who is dying and the needs of those around them who are grieving.



Submitted by Karen Midlo, Life Transitions Doula & Care Manager

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