University of Vermont
Lerner School of Medicine
End-of Life Doula Professional Certificate
EOL Doulas bring a dying person and their family the kind of compassionate and personal care they deserve during the end of a life. They provide the added care to make the last days and hours comfortable, peaceful, and richly meaningful.
Doulas work in harmony with palliative care and hospice services, but are not medical practitioners- i.e., they do not administer medication or medical care.
Why a doula?
Although death is both natural and universal, the end of life is something we tend to fear and avoid discussing. Because of this avoidance, the experiences of death and dying often bring unnecessary shock and suffering, which can intensify and prolong grief.
By discussing and planning for death
- we honor life by identifying ways to best take care of ourselves and our loved ones.
- we prevent and alleviate suffering by ensuring that our last days are as we would like them to be.
- we provide a way for loved ones to know how to best care for us during this time.
Role of a death doula for the client
- Discovering a client’s wishes
- Providing emotional support
- Overseeing the broad picture of client care, coordinating with the team
- Working through a client’s fears
- Honoring and holding sacred space
- Leaded guided imagery, breathing exercises as requested or desired.
- Touch such as hand massage, holding hands, hugs as requested or desired.
- Promoting informed consent
- Help with household tasks
- Assisting with legacy and completion projects, creating a lasting treasure
- Assisting with advanced directives
- Conducting life review
- Providing referral sources
- Coordinating care
- Vigil planning and sitting according to clients’ wishes
Role of a death doula for the client’s family, loved ones or caregiver
- Provide respite for family or caregiver.
- Provide comfort in knowing their loved one is being emotionally supported.
- Provide a continued presence, when requested, during the initial grief and bereavement phase.