ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – The death toll from COVID is more than a half a million. Add in car accidents, cancer, suicides, and other causes, more than three million Americans died last year. If so many people are doing it, why do so few people want to talk about it? Even fewer want to prepare for it. But there’s a group of people who are part of a death positive movement, making the prep work for dying more acceptable.
Birth doulas help bring in life, death doulas help you leave it.
“You’re not going to get a second chance at this so make it extraordinary,” Ashley Johnson, a death doula and Founder of Loyal Hands, told Ivanhoe.
Ashley Johnson’s business, Loyal Hands, is to prepare people for death.
“So, who calls me is actually any and everybody,” Johnson shared.
“I work in the hospital. I see death every day. So, I felt like I should prepare myself,” Roseline Nkoronye, a hospitalist, said.
“I want to make sure that if anything was to happen, my business can still be run,” Richard Dupree, owner of Chef Boy RD’s Catering, said.
Death doulas can help with the paperwork of dying: advance directives, wills, and power of attorney, although they don’t provide medical services, they can provide support, comfort, and new options.
“We have things called awakes where people want to have a homecoming celebration while they’re alive and well,” Johnson proclaimed.
Legacy projects are popular—from creating quilts, art projects, scrapbooks, writing letters to leave behind for their relatives, but for most people education comes first.
“They have questions on what is going to happen,” Anna Schwait, a death doula, commented.
Doula Anna Schwait helped 94-year-old Mary say goodbye, something her daughter said was very difficult for her.
“It was a taboo subject,” Joanie Maranzana, Mary’s daughter, said.
Bob Lunar has his exit strategy.
“Who do I want there and what kind of music and maybe who I don’t want there,” Lunar said.
“It is okay for us to take control of our life and of our end of life,” Schwait said.
Living for today, planning for the future, and preparing just in case.
“So just making that experience for them and it’s calm and embracing and empowering is all I need them to have,” said Johnson.
There is no federal mandated certification to become an end-of-life doula, but it is strongly recommended to take end of life training classes and obtain volunteer experience at a hospice.
You can find an end-of-life doula at the National End of Life Alliance website. It’s recommended you interview your doula before hiring them. Prices range from $30 an hour and up, depending on what services you need them to provide.