By Laura Cottingim – Doula

It was the winter of 2006, the day after Christmas. I sat beside my husband, lying in his hospital bed set up in our bedroom. It was a good day. He was alert and engaging. The room was peaceful and warm, candles burned on the mantle and the sun casted rays through the window. We spoke about many things that afternoon. At one point I said to him “when you get to where you’re going will you send me a message”. He agreed, and we decided together what that message would be. 

He let go of life January 2, 2007. The week following was busy with family, friends, phone calls, and final funeral plans. The day of his funeral came, and it was beautiful. Afterwards, a gathering of close friends and family that came to the house slowly dwindled. For the first time since he died I was alone. It was that moment the message we agreed upon came. I was frightened. I fell to my knees asking God for forgiveness for having tested my faith. Then I felt an enormous sense of joy realizing that our spirits do transcend, and they can communicate with us. I lost my fear of dying. It had been validated, our spirit is eternal. 

I received a calling after that day, to help people embrace the end of life experience and provide comfort and support to the dying and their loved ones in the final weeks and days. I later learned the term for this was End of Life Doula. 

An End of Life Doula is a companion to the dying, helping them and their families connect with the spiritual aspects of the dying process. A Doula engages in the relationship of the dying person, seeing them beyond their illness, getting to know them however it unfolds, being present, available and allowing the person to be who they are.

Focusing on the rite of passage and preparing the individual and their loved ones for the transition from the physical to the spiritual world can and should be a sacred, peaceful, uplifting experience for everyone involved. End-of-Life is inevitable. A Doula is there to provide holistic support for the dying on their journey home and for their loved ones before, during, and after death by ensuring the experience is as positive as possible.  

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