Death Doulas

The AnamCara Volunteer Death Doulas are a group of experienced hospice volunteers who have had additional training to become doulas. The Celtic word AnamCara means Soul Friend.  The range of services is tailored to the individual and is described in detail below.  This service is provided FREE OF CHARGE to members of the greater Santa Barbara community. 

Please use the CONTACT form on this website to contact us about providing doula services

WHAT IS A DEATH DOULA/Death MIDWIFE?

A Death Doula/Midwife supports the dying person and the support network of family, loved ones, and friends, during the end-of-life process. Death Doula/Midwives provide the dying person with individualized care suited to physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs. We are a non-medical supportive companion and guide to assist the dying person toward a more comfortable/conscious dying experience.  A Death Doula/Midwife offers a variety of options for the end of life. 

AnamCara Volunteer Death Doulas provide the practical, emotional, and spiritual support and guidance to the dying and their families during the three stages of the dying process:

BEFORE – life threatening illness and terminal diagnosis, DURING – active dying and death, and AFTER – care of the body and funeral.

AnamCara Volunteer Death Doulas care plan includes:

Before

  1. Advanced Care Planning of End of Life Education and Preparation
    1. Complete advanced care directives
    2. Create a Death File
    3. Discuss end of life wishes with family
    4. Discuss funeral or after death wishes
    5. Plan for caregiving
    6. Create a legacy Project
  2. Support after the life-limiting/terminal diagnosis
    1. Come to terms with the diagnosis and dealing with anticipatory grief
    2. Decide what treatment is reasonable for further “quality of life”
    3. Register with hospice/palliative care provider
    4. Create a Vigil Plan
    5. Display POLST
    6. Heal relationships/putting affairs in order
    7. If desired, arrange for body to be at home, return to home if death is in hospital, hospice, residential facility and stay at home for viewing and/or home funeral.

During

  1. Active dying stage
    1. Arrange visitations for “final-farewells” and /or death vigil or living “celebration of life”
    2. Guided visualizations, spiritual counseling, referrals to clergy, counselors, etc., for both individuals and family/friends
    3. Create planned vigil space
    4. Staff vigil with hospice/family/friends
    5. Support the “comfort care” provided by hospice or palliative team

     After

  1. Immediate post-death
    1. Contact family/hospice/funeral home
    2. If desired, support family at home with body preparation: laying the body in honor for viewing/creating beautiful space/alters/cool body for one to three days/ decorate casket.
  2. One or two follow-visits with family to discuss vigil and death and complete legacy, if needed.
  3. If needed, connect family with follow-up grief counseling available in community.