End of life as a phrase has become much more common in the last few years, initially attached to the word ‘doulas’, and now there are end of life plan facilitators, or consultants, and even coaches.
So what’s the actual difference?
An end of life doula is someone who is non-medical, and trained to care for a terminally ill person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs during the death process. It’s a term perhaps better known when associated with birth, ie a birth doula.
One significant difference between birth and death doulas is that we usually know more or less when a baby will be born, but not when someone is going to die. So a death doula may be involved with the terminally ill person for quite some time, or a very short time; and they may stay involved with the family once the person they have been focused on has died.
They will help with all sorts, from the emotional upheaval, the spiritual needs, to the family challenges, and some also help with the practical information needed as regards tidying up a life, and what has to be taken care of by the family after they have died.
An end of life plan facilitator, on the other hand, doesn’t tend to work with terminally ill people, although that does happen sometimes. Rather, their focus is on helping healthy people prepare well for as good an end of life as possible, by taking care of the administrative side of death well in advance of it being needed.
One reason this happens is because it is much more challenging to do this kind of work when you or your loved one is terminally ill. This happened with my husband, you can see my TedX talk How to Do A Good Death which tells you what happened, so that’s how I know – apart from many others telling me the same.
So end of life plan facilitators are also trained and non-medical, but their work is very detailed in terms of ALL aspects of the administrative side – this means not just the legals (wills, and powers of attorney, and advance care plans), but also the funeral organisation, if you want one (you don’t have to have one), the household organisation and death cleaning, your digital life being addressed (because you live on after you are dead unless you do something about it while you are alive), and your living legacy, that’s how you want to be remembered.
There is a lot of detail in each of these sections and people are always surprised by what they haven’t thought of – along the lines of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’.
Both death doulas and end of life plan facilitators will be trained in how to have conversations about all end of life matters.
So what you want just depends on what you need, and your own situation. If you’d like to know more about what training as a facilitator actually entails, visit the page here.