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Kim Poer
INELDA Trained End-of-Life Doula


An Introduction to End-of-Life Doulas

You might think of a doula as someone who aids a woman during childbirth. But did you know that another form of doula exists to assist folks who are nearing the end of their lives?

Everything you need to know about end-of-life doulas is right here.

What is an End-of-Life Doula?


End-of-life doulas, also known as End-of-life Consultants or End-of-life companions, provide care and support to persons and their families going through the dying process. We may provide emotional, physical, and spiritual support to the dying patient, as well as assist in addressing the patient's goals and needs in their final days. We can also help with practical duties such as making a death plan, preparing a memorial ceremony, and putting together a legacy project for future generations.

An end-of-life doula can also help family members cope with the death of a loved one and provide grief support thereafter. While conventional doulas and midwives have been around for generations, death doulas are a newer phenomenon. End-of-life doulas are becoming increasingly common as our culture recognizes the necessity of talking about death and dying. The international "Death Positive" movement has called for death doulas to assist dying people in living out their final days with dignity and openness.

What Isn't a Doula for End-of-Life Care?

End-of-life doulas are not intended to take the place of other professionals such as doctors, hospice nurses or home health aides. I love and respect hospice / palliative care and all of their hard work… We work alongside these experts, filling in any care gaps that may occur. Doulas may have medical expertise, but it is not essential because their position is completely non-clinical. Doulas provide spiritual, emotional, educational, and logistical support and consolation to the dying and their loved ones, rather than medical care.

Focusing on What Matters Most (I will provide you with a blank copy) of the 'Five Wishes' document. 

A conversation. Someone’s peace of mind. The assurance that when it matters most, your wishes about what matters most will be known.

Advance care planning is for everyone – grandparents celebrating their 80th birthdays; new parents holding their newborn son; people living with illness; employees setting up benefits to take care of their families.

So, what is Advance Care Planning? It's discussing and documenting our wishes and preferences for the kind of care and treatment we want or do not want in advance, so that if we are unable to communicate our choices, what we want is understood. Five Wishes takes the guessing out of caring. It is a comprehensive program that helps guide you, your loved ones, your trusted advisors, and your healthcare team through conversations before a health crisis.
More people have used the Five Wishes document for their living will or advance directive than any other document.

Five Wishes allows you to express:

  • The person you trust to make decisions for you

  • What types of medical treatment you would want – or not want

  • What is most important for your comfort and dignity

  • What important spiritual or faith traditions should be remembered

  • What you want your loved ones and healthcare providers to know about you


Though we don’t like to think about it, a change in health or an accident can happen to any of us. That’s why it’s important for all of us, regardless of age or health, to have a plan that documents our health care wishes in case we become unable to make important treatment decisions, or communicate choices.

Five Wishes is changing the way we talk about advance care planning by focusing on what matters most to you. We offer Five Wishes resources to individuals and families, and customized programs for healthcare providers, faith communities, attorneys, financial advisors, and any business or employer.


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