Midwives have been assisting women in the birthing process for thousands of years, assisting and providing care to women, not only during birth but also during the stages of pregnancy and postpartum.
But a death midwife, also known as a death doula, is not as common in our society, although these individuals have also been there, assisting the dying for centuries.
Most death midwives are trained in the care of the terminally ill, and include hospice nurses, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals who assist and ease the process of dying. Others are trained with a focus more toward emotional and spiritual needs.
A death doula can help reduce a person’s anxiety about dying, decrease pain, and provide the patience, kindness and compassion needed during this transition, both for the dying, and their family members.
Death midwives say their job is to make the final exit as peaceful and pain-free as possible. Most view their ability to assist someone as a privilege: an honor.
Many times, the dying simply need someone to talk to; someone to share their concerns with about their disease and prognosis, the pain and suffering that might accompany it, or how to get theirs affairs in order.
Others may want family members summoned at a certain time, or a final visit with a devoted pet. Midwives see to all of this – anything to assist in making the death experience more dignified, supportive, and comfortable.
This is not a vocation for every one, but if you feel a calling to this profession, there are several end-of-life doula programs available. Research the offerings and find one that resonates with your beliefs and comfort levels.
If you are searching for a death midwife, check with your local hospitals, funeral homes and hospice centers. They should have suggestions for death doulas in your region so that you, or your loved one, may go in peace.