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What Does a Death Doula Do?

Death doulas are death educators, guides and companions for the dying. They provide emotional support to death's family members during this difficult time. They also help with practical needs such as helping the dying person make their final wishes known, informing them of end-of-life options and managing pain. Find out more about this profession and what death doulas do.

What does a death doula do?

A death doula, also known as an end of life midwife, provides support to the dying and their families during the death process. They offer emotional support, guidance and practical assistance with issues such as making final wishes known, informing about end-of-life options and pain management. Death doulas may also provide death education to the dying and their family members.

A death doula can help the dying person make decisions about what they want before death. They also offer support to friends or family who are having trouble coping with death. Death doulas provide information on how to handle different stages of death, such as when someone is in hospice care or at home near death.

What's the difference between a death midwife and a death doula?

A death midwife and a death doula are the same thing, death midwife is just another name for a death doula. Death doulas are also referred to as an end-of-life midwife.

What are the responsibilities of a death doula?

A death doula’s responsibilities can vary depending on their experience, but typically they include things like helping the person who is dying to make important decisions, providing physical and emotional support, helping with end of life planning, and acting as a liaison between the person who is dying and their family. A death doula's responsibilities also include:

  • Helping the patient understand the process of dying, providing them with emotional (and sometimes spiritual) guidance.
  • Helping the family with end of life practical tasks such as paperwork, gathering online information and passwords to close accounts, advising them on contacting creditors and handling debt, helping them with funeral arrangements, wills, etc.
  • Helping the patient create a legacy to leave behind, which can be in the form of scrapbooking, journaling, writing, video diaries, and other forms of expression.
  • Helping the patient create and communicate an end-of-life care plan. This includes locating healthcare directives and advising the family about the patient’s wishes.
  • Working with both the patient, caregivers, and family to offer emotional and logistical support when needed.

Offering additional insight and resources regarding end of life care, death, and post-death logistics.

Do death doulas have to undergo death doula training?

Most death doulas do have to undergo some form of death doula training in order to get started in the industry. Though there is no formal national exam or licensure required to practice as a death doula, many do go for training and some do receive death doula certification. Training can include online classes and in-person classes. Some education for death doulas is free, while other programs can cost money, it depends on the program chosen by the death doula trainee.

How much do death doulas cost?

A death doula typically charges families anywhere from $25-$100+, depending on their skills, services provided, experience, and location. Those who are newer to the field or who are just starting out will typically charge families less than those who are established and have been working with families for longer.

Why should I hire a death doula?

There are many reasons death doulas should be hired, all of which typically amount to creating a compassionate and caring experience for both the individual who is dying and the family experiencing the loss. It's important to remember that a death doula is generally experienced in handling death and the connected events that take place after someone passes away. Even if you feel like you can handle every single logistical item on the checklist, having additional support during such a difficult time is going to be helpful. Here are some reasons why you may want to consider hiring a death doula:

  • They can help you, your family, and the patient navigate the dying process.
  • Death doulas help clarify the patient's end-of-life plan and ensure that they feel they are dying well, with their requests and end-of-life demands being voiced properly.
  • They help both the patient and the family deal with the process of grief, know what to expect, and can help those who are struggling more than others to deal with the loss.
  • They can connect you and your loved ones with resources you may not have had the opportunity to look at.
  • They help with the logistical side of dying, including closing accounts, gathering passwords, finding healthcare directives, handling arrangements, and other tasks that need to be taken care of when someone dies.
  • They provide emotional and spiritual (depending on the death doula) support to the patient and the family through an incredibly difficult time.
  • They have knowledge that you may find extremely helpful during your time of need.
  • They act as a go-between for the person who is dying and the family members.

Where can I find a death doula?

If you're looking for a death doula, you can try contacting one of the national organizations for death doulas:

You can also try getting in touch with local hospices to see if they have any recommendations for death doulas near you.

There are many death doulas across the country, and not all of them work with families in person. Many death doulas choose to do their services online or over the phone because they may be located out-of-state, travel a lot for work, etc. There are some death doula organizations that can help you find someone near your area who can help you with your death doula needs.

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Last updated September 12, 2022
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