Way back in the day, before the human race settled down to the work of agriculture, we were nomads co-existing in small tribes. For as long as anyone can remember, women have supported women to give birth. If you watch almost every old movie there are not one but two women who assist in this act. One is the midwife, the other is a doula. The doula is running around getting towels, holding glasses of water, holding hands and offering words of support. Before men were pacing around outside the room, they were standing guard or out gathering food to ensure their new family’s survival.
“It takes a village to raise a child” The greater part of this story is that is takes a community to care for and protect their vulnerable.
In recent years the role of a doula has transitioned to include care for the dying. A Death Doula engages the terminally ill in conversations about their own mortality, which can be difficult for close family or friends to accept. These conversations allow the dying to make positive choices about their approaching death and consider ideas of how they might want to die. These interactions may include planning their own funeral, or instead a celebratory party where they choose to invite people to witness and accept the ending of a client’s life.
A Life Doula is a new thing completely. As humans there are many circumstances beyond birth and death where anybody and even everybody may need additional support beyond that of family, friends or even traditional medical professionals. Sometimes we need someone to chat to that can provide some practical support along the way. These are usually times of major upheaval from dealing with the death of a loved one and the subsequent ending of a relationship, to moving continent or just finally settling down to figuring out what all this life stuff is about. The aim, as I see it, is to provide a long standing connection that you can turn to in times of stress, always, without having to forge new relationships or rapport for each new season the years will bring.