All About Estates

A New Way to Plan for Death

Today’s blog is being brought to you by guest blogger, Jennifer Campbell, a law clerk in the Private Client Services group of Fasken LLP.

I recently came across an article talking about death doulas. Yes, you read right, death doulas.

While I’ve heard of doulas helping pregnant women come up with and execute a birthing plan, a death doula was something I had not heard of before.

“Doula” is the Greek word for servant or helper. A death doula can help a person plan for a peaceful death taking into consideration the person’s beliefs, needs and wishes.  Apparently they’ve been around for years but only recently have I come to learn more about them.

The End-of-Life Doula Association of Canada employs doulas who have been specifically trained in end of life programs and are mandated to provide quality of care.  The training is provided based upon the recommendations made by the Ministry of Health and other agencies such as the Canadian Hospice and Palliative Care Associations.

While they do not facilitate death, a death doula can help to prepare the family for the sights and sounds they may witness during the passing process. They can help a dying individual arrange for their ultimate passing by including specific smells, sights and sounds in the process.

For people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, a death doula can help to make the final days of an individual’s life peaceful and provide comfort to the family during a difficult time of coming to terms with the impending death of a loved one. A death doula can help a patient and their family by sitting vigil and providing support.

Some of the other services that death doulas provide include:

  • grief and bereavement support;
  • respite, errands, light housework and driving to appointments;
  • providing light hand and foot massages;
  • providing guided breathing techniques; and
  • collaboration with the hospice team and nursing staff.

With an aging population and overcrowded hospitals, we may see an increase in the use of death doulas by clients who want to die with dignity at home.

About Corina Weigl
Corina Weigl is a partner in the Trusts, Wills, Estates and Charities group at Fasken, a leading international law firm with over 650 lawyers and 9 offices worldwide that offers comprehensive estate planning, estate administration, personal tax planning, charitable giving and estate litigation services. Email: cweigl@fasken.com

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