When a human begins life, there are many helpers. First and foremost there is Mom. Would you imagine though, that Mom might be in favor of more help? In these modern times, most of us will begin life in the company of a doctor and many other healthcare professionals. These folks know what a good beginning looks like and more important, they know what to do if something is not going as planned. Also available to many Moms these days is what is called a birthing doula. This person is there for the sole purpose of assisting with the beginning of life. And of course, many family members want to be there to greet the little one as well. What a meaningful event! This medical model is a great way to assure the success of life!
What about when human life ends? Is there a need for a medical team similar to birth? That all depends on the goal. If life is the goal, there can be an even larger medical team!
But what about the case of an expected ending of life (terminal condition)? How much help will we need to assure better odds of a good dying experience? Unfortunately, Mom may not be there. If hospice is chosen–and in most cases it should be–there will be medical professionals and other helpers. But the odds of any of them being there at the moment life ends is small. As troubling as this sounds, hospice is a medical model. And dying–contrary to popular belief–is not a medical condition. What most of us will need–more than anything else–is holistic (humane) care. Not only for ourself, but for those who will be there with us in our dying place.
Like a birthing doula–which also is not a medical model–an end of life doula (guide) is present for the purpose of supporting a good life event. Because after all, dying remains “life” until the moment of death as we know it.
An end of life guide (EOLG) is there for the dying person and loved ones of the dying person. As a thanatologist (specialist in death and dying), she or he will be a source of knowledge, resources, assistance and support for everyone involved. And as an extra set of experienced eyes, she can be valuable help to the hospice service, keeping them abreast of any changes of condition or areas where there is a need for medical intervention, as well as advise for the family regarding comfort measures. If the family is in need of caregivers, the EOLG will know where to find them as well.
So now you know how to have a better ending of life! As your end of life guide, it will be my honor to accompany you and those who love you until the very last moment….and beyond.