The Breath of Death ~ Personal Reflections on the Community Deathcare Movement

 Author’s Note: I have contemplated writing this piece for some time but it hasn’t unfolded easily. I have been struggling this past year with the evolution (or perhaps erosion) of the community deathcare movement. Proceed with caution. If this article causes reflection, it has achieved its purpose.

In the Beginning

My introduction to what I now know to be community deathcare happened over 40 years ago although it didn’t have a fancy name back then. I grew up with an abnormal “comfort” around death, thanks to being raised in an Irish Catholic family with parents who never shied away from the topic. They used the proper terms of “death,” “dying” and “dead” and openly talked about the sometimes-tragic deaths of loved ones. My mom was also a nurse and so she would come home some days feeling very sad over the death of a patient she had cared about for many weeks or months. People often died at home back then and my mom would be called out to offer guidance and comfort and my sisters and I would be sent to the same homes with food for the caregivers.

We sang at funerals in our small, rural church and had attended countless wakes and funerals by the time we reached adolescence. Oftentimes, we didn’t know the deceased personally. My mother would say, “It’s just the right thing to do” especially if the deceased had no living relatives. It was considerate to show up and pay your respects and was the norm in our small community to reach out when people were suffering or celebrating. You helped each other whether it was making a casserole for a new mom, creating Kleenex flowers for wedding cars or taking part in the rituals of death. My mom grew up at a time when older generations died at home and families and communities took care of the details that followed. She naturally passed this on to her children.

A death education course in my high school inspired me to consider funeral direction as a possible career but in 1998, just two years after I graduated with a diploma in social service work, life, unexpectedly, led me to birth doula work and that is where I remained for fifteen years working with labouring, birthing and new mothers and their families. Although birth and death are the bookends to life, there were times the line between birth and death blurred and the space between disappeared. It was in these times that I found myself effortlessly able to shift the support I was providing.   

With my daughter….December 2003

During this time as a birth doula, I became a mother. In 2003, our daughter endured an abrupt lack of oxygen at birth resulting in significant brain damage. Thus began a precarious journey of living with the knowledge that we would likely outlive our daughter. She was given a life expectancy of age 7 or 8. And “death” walked alongside us, showing itself in frantic 911 calls that left us shattered and determined to savour every moment of life with her while we had her.

The home dying and death of my grandmother on Jan. 1st 2011, affected me profoundly when I experienced firsthand that my doula skills were easily transferred to help my grandmother as she made this final transition. My interest in death care was sparked yet again but I was not at a place in my life to explore this further. Expanding my officiating services in 2013 to that of Life-Cycle Celebrant and specializing in funeral ceremonies, came naturally and I felt tremendous fulfillment in offering meaningful ceremony to those who were facing the death of a loved one head on. 

That Death Lady

In 2015, I came upon the BeYond Yonder Virtual School for Death Midwifery (which eventually changed to the BeYond Yonder Virtual School for Community Deathcaring in Canada) and I knew I had found the course that I needed to take.  My reason for enrolling in this course was a desire for a deeper understanding of caring for the dying and the bereaved to enhance my celebrant practice and my volunteer work at a local hospice. I was also under the impression that in twelve weeks (300+ hours of study), I would be certified in some way as a “Death Midwife” with the credentials to set up shop and start offering my services by the spring of 2016.

I soon found out that this was not the case at all and expanded my initial vision on what I thought my practice would look like to this: “I believe that my role as a death midwifery practitioner in the community will begin with education and establishing positive relationships with the more progressive funeral homes in the area. I think I will become a “go-to” person for questions surrounding death and dying and because I am a part of the community, I may be more approachable and more easily accessible than booking an appointment with a local funeral director.  Because I will not be charging a fee and my time is extremely valuable, I know that my boundaries will be tighter with clients outside of my friends and family.”

Looking back, I find it interesting that I wrote that I would not be charging a fee because a month later, I changed my views a little. When asked the question: Are home funeral guides who offer service for pay simply adding another consumer layer to the funeral industry? I replied: “I think it depends on where they are in their head. Are they coming from a place of “You need me. You can’t do this on your own” or are they coming from a place of “My time is valuable and I should be compensated fairly for my time?” If the death midwifery practitioner is going out into the community to empower families with education and support then I think having compensation for that is okay. Moving into a family’s space and taking over while charging hundreds of dollars is, in my opinion, moving in on funeral industry tactics and territory.”

By the halfway mark, I was understanding that my role was fairly stand-off-ish and that death midwifery was more about a movement than a career. And as the final weeks unfolded, a deeper knowledge was percolating and my original thoughts were transformed into more meaningful insights. The in-depth coursework and journal entries pushed me into spaces I would have never explored had I not taken part in this course. It urged me to examine my death denial even though initially I was insistent that I was NOT in denial.

As the course was wrapping up, I recognized that my initial thoughts on the “scope of practice” of the death midwifery practitioner was vastly different than what it had turned out to be.  I discovered that my role was far more minimal than I had anticipated coming into the course. My entire focus and perception of the death midwife changed tremendously and I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t have a clearer understanding. The more I realized that this movement was about empowering the family and education, the more I realized that this course was more of an interest course as opposed to something I could use to enhance my career and work with the dying and bereaved. I remember feeling a bit frustrated that I had spent a significant amount of money to ultimately provide information to members of my community without ever receiving any type of compensation.

As the last week came to a close, I had done a complete 180. I decided that I would not be calling myself a death midwifery practitioner, death midwife, death doula or home funeral guide. My intention was to quietly move about my life reading and learning and preparing for the deaths of my daughter and other family members.

Perhaps the greatest revelation from this course was the clarity I gained on how I would like to care for our daughter in her dying, death and after death. It is hard to place value on knowledge that has led me to a place of confidence where I have breathed life into these old ways that should have never been lost in the first place. What I didn’t expect was that this course would bring me to a place of readiness to care for my own dead loved ones. What a tremendous gift this will be not only to them but to my siblings, nieces and nephews. By caring for our own, they will learn the skills that will continue to be carried down through the generations and community led death care will have returned to my family.

In the months that followed this life changing course, I returned to my work as a celebrant designing unique and meaningful, custom ceremonies and allowed time for all that I learned to settle into my psyche. By January 2017, I created and began offering a unique death preparation course to my community. I continued to host the Death Cafes I had been offering since 2014 and volunteer my time giving massage to the residents and their families at our local hospice. My career as a Life-Cycle Celebrant has been thriving as I continue to use the art of ritual and ceremony to assist people in navigating dying, death and bereavement.  

When I completed the BeYond Yonder course, I didn’t believe it was necessary to call myself anything as I assumed the community would come up with their own terminology…. “You know Julie Keon? She’s that death lady.” And that is exactly what happened.

The Derailment of a Movement

But then I got caught up in the movement that had taken on a life of its own like a runaway train. I felt torn between my heart, that wanted to just be there for whomever found their way to me, and my mind, that felt pressured to acquire more (and more) schooling from the plethora of doula trainings that seemed to crop up almost daily and to give myself a title of Death Doula. I was struggling with the desire to empower people in my community through creative, educational gatherings while feeling under-qualified and believing I needed to spend a lot of money and time on training to prove that I was worthy of offering these services.

To my surprise, I was approached to teach and train death doulas and everything changed. I looked forward to attending the course as an observer (as a first step to becoming a trainer) but was sorely disappointed. Participants invested A LOT of money for something that lacked insight and depth and that could have been taught in half the amount of time. For the most part, it was a regurgitation of information as opposed to teaching valuable knowledge gained from actual experience. I was so frustrated by the end of it, that I was certain I did not want my name attached to it. It became clear to me that in a lot of instances, the ones who were really cashing in on this trend were the organizations offering the trainings.

I recognized that the fifteen years I offered birth doula services to my community was my greatest education in life and death. Seeing this role misunderstood and treated as a commodity was insulting. Sadly, after spending many years dedicated to making the term “doula” a household word, I distanced myself from it.  This was both confusing and heartbreaking to me. I continued to teach my death preparation course and offer guidance where needed within my community. Requests for my course curriculum often came from people who had zero experience or knowledge but who wanted to teach it. I had dedicated far too much time, thought and love to give it away. Besides, it was crafted around my own experiences; various topics illustrated with personal story telling.  The calls came in regularly about where one goes to school to become a death doula and I became increasingly disheartened. By this time, you could even pay for an online course to find out how to become a death doula.  

The Breath of Death

 “I felt the breath of death on that sunny afternoon but it wasn’t my time; it was just too soon. For a fraction of a second, I was cradled at the veil between Life and Death but LIFE prevailed.” ~ Julie Keon, November 6th 2019

As a Life-Cycle Celebrant, I am consistently reminded that whether we are ready or not, one day it will all come to an end. For some of us, it will be abrupt and unexpected while for others, it will come with awareness when given a terminal diagnosis. To say that I have a privileged awareness of death and its ability to come out of nowhere would be an understatement. I am reminded regularly through my role as a Celebrant. Yet as a mother to a child with medical fragility who lives with a shortened life expectancy, I hold a deeper understanding that death is always lurking nearby. At least I thought I did.

There is nothing like a near death experience to jolt you awake and shake up everything you previously believed to be true. On October 19th 2019, I was driving on a sunny fall day to my last wedding ceremony of the season. A shadowed dip in the road competed with the sun in my face to alter my vision for just a second. It was in that second that unbeknownst to me, a large buck had wandered into my path and at a speed of 85km/ hour, I hit it full force without warning. My air bags deployed and I managed to keep control of the car, pulling it over safely to the side of the road. Although the (minor) traumatic brain injury and whiplash I have been dealing with for the last several months has been tough, I have also been experiencing an awakening of sorts.

What I haven’t shared with many people is that although I have no memory of before or right after the collision, my brain managed to capture a microsecond flash of the moment of impact. This “flash” is of the airbags partially deployed and the outline of a deer through the white powder that the bags emit upon deployment. Considering they inflate at a speed of 300km, it is quite remarkable that my brain captured this microsecond of memory. It is this flash of memory that woke me in the early hours of the morning in the days and weeks following the accident.

I knew deep in my bones that it was in this moment that things could have gone either way. Surviving what could have been a fatal collision dissolved any control I thought I had about my life and death and there was something immensely freeing about it. It’s as though my body and mind were cradled between life and death which was both terrifying and fascinating. The immensity of that microsecond left me feeling profoundly vulnerable yet surprisingly peaceful and calm. The intensity of it would be impossible to live with indefinitely. As it began to fade, I wanted to cling to that sense of teetering between life and death if even for a microsecond.

What was most shocking to me, was the realization that even though I thought I was aware of how quickly and unexpectedly our lives can end, there was still a part of me that unconsciously believed that it wouldn’t happen to me anytime soon. Intellectually, I knew my death could come at any time. I had honoured enough people through ceremony to know that many lives end unexpectedly and sometimes tragically. Regardless, I still planned and expected to live to be 90. I have a child that is completely dependent on me and will always be until the end of her life. I know now that some part of me believed that it couldn’t happen to me…….until it did. There is nothing that could have awaken me more profoundly than this sudden close call.

This has rocked me so deeply that I now view the entire community deathcare movement in a completely different light. Although I have been troubled by aspects of it for a very long time, I am recognizing that much of it is, in its simplest form, another way of denying death. Now this seems contrary to what is happening considering the countless Death Expos, Death Cafes and death conferences cropping up all over the place. And people like Caitlin Doughty (Ask a Mortician), for example, have made death (and work related to it) “positive”, and hip. A whole lot of people have come out of the woodwork and latched onto a trendy movement. In a grave (pun intended) attempt to soften the sharp edges of death, I think we have lost reverence for it and even make a mockery of it through witty memes, skull themed paraphernalia, Gothic personas, humourous YouTube videos and TED Talks. I, too, am guilty as charged.

Is It Just Me?

As I wrote at the beginning, I have struggled this past year with a deep concern for what originally started out as a movement and has, in many ways, morphed into a sugar-coated version of a funeral industry that lost its way a long time ago. It began with good intention but has transformed into its own machine where death doulas are being “trained” (I use that word loosely) at a rate that far exceeds a market that, frankly, barely exists at this time. Is it just me, or is everyone suddenly jumping on the death train with a desire to become a professional to assist the dying?

Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that a good number of people are jumping on this train for the right reasons. And many were part of community deathcare long before it became a thing. I have dear friends who identify as death doulas and even train death doulas and so I mean no disrespect. If you are one of these people, I trust you will easily understand where I am coming from. However, there is a dark underbelly to the movement that is disturbing and concerning. For example, I recently read a thread on social media of creating a sub type of death doula for parents like me. I was dumbfounded at the number of people who were wanting to “work with peds” and with “dying children.”

As a mother of a child who is medically fragile, I have naturally assisted the parents in my community when their children are palliative. Of course, they have tremendous support from the palliative team and I simply bring a different type of support and care. I encourage them to slow things down after the death and to consider after death care, ritual, etc. I am NEVER present at the deaths as this is not my place, unless they want me there. My role is to empower, educate and support THEM so they can do everything on their own. And you know what happens after that? They, in turn, pass this knowledge on to the next family that must go through the death of their child.

What it really comes down to, after you peel back the layers, is an imbalance of too much ego and too little integrity.

When so called death workers are uttering things like, “How can we make death sexy?”

Or when (privileged) white women (and men) are dropping thousands of dollars to attend “Become a Shaman” trainings 

Or when people flock to gush over a death guru / plastic shaman

Or when people are paying ridiculous amounts of money for the dime-a-dozen, death doula trainings,

Or when a supposed “death doula” tells me I am “lucky” because I am personally connected to a children’s hospice…..

Something. Isn’t. Right.

For my own sense of peace, I must retreat from the online communities and return my focus to the physical community in which I live. I have given too much energy fretting over the potential demise of a movement that I am still hopeful will recover.  In the meantime, my support and guidance will be offered where needed in a way that was taught to me by my mother who was taught by her mother and grandmother. By distancing myself from all that doesn’t sit well with me in the community deathcare movement, I can focus on how I can best support my own family, circle and community.

I am not sure we need specialized death doulas. Perhaps, instead, we need to remember the ancient skills that our families and communities used to know. We need to be reminded of those skills and pass them on. As we determine our comfort level, we can take back some of the responsibility of caring for our loved ones at the beginning of their decline and at the ending of their lives. And if the thought of caring for one’s own dying and dead is not appealing, even frightening, then we need to have people in our communities who can be called upon; the death ladies, if you will (like my mother before me). Regular women and men in the community who show up with their hands and hearts (and maybe a casserole for the caregivers) sharing knowledge and support without it being a ‘profession’ that involves monetary transactions.

My hope is that the “movement” finds itself in a similar place I found myself when I was blindsided by that close call. To continue moving in a sustainable and positive direction, we must pause and re-evaluate what will best serve our communities. Each one of us needs to ask ourselves if we are coming from a place of ego or integrity. And then we need to listen to the answer and let that guide us forward.

If you enjoyed this piece, you will LOVE Danna Schmidt’s article: “Knocking on Deathcare’s Door~ An Open Letter to the Community Deathcare Movement


  1. Amen, sister!

  2. YES! Can we make a space to talk on the phone some time! <3

  3. Thank you

  4. Death Matters ~ Dawn Carson. Thank you for sharing your journey with all it’s ripples and moonbeams. Don’t even know what to say… I’ll need to contemplate for a while longer. So many emotions have come over me reading your article.

  5. Julie. Always guiding people as you find your way. Thank you for your wisdom, friendship and ,always present, honesty. XO

  6. Thank you for sharing so deeply on this topic. I believe you have hit the nail on the head.

  7. Yes!!! A thousand times YES,! Thank you for taking the time and effort to birth this article. I’m not surprised to hear it didn’t come easy.! I have been wrestling with these exact same conundrums and you’ve just splayed them all out there in a way that makes me feel such relief and freedom. I have struggled to express these same concerns and ponderings to my “industry” colleagues and never quite formulated anything cohesive enough to impart the totality of my confusion and unrest. Wow. I just can’t thank you enough, Julie.

  8. Thank you for this piece. You gently yet bravely call attention to something that troubles many of us yet I’ve found difficult to name and articulate. I see this article as an important resource in my own work to support true community deathcare.

  9. This matters SO much! I agree completely with everything you have articulated here. It is hard for our culture to decouple the passing on of an essential practice with a monetary reward. I feel so strongly that this work is all about reminding people what is possible in reclaiming an activity that used to be part of the very fabric of living in community. Caring for our own at death must be passed on from family to family, generation to generation in order to survive and bring real change back into our culture. Thank you for writing this.

  10. Thank you so much for these words. I also have been troubled by the growing bandwagon aspect of the movement with its supply far outstripping any demand, and its general monetizing/commodifying of death. I think that’s why so many death doulas have gotten excited about hopping on the MAiD/assisted dying bandwagon – utterly new turf to turn. Everyone has to make a living, as my Irish Catholic mother used to say, but when should money come into play for actually needed skills or when not?

  11. I too have quietly been a support person for friends and family for many years, before there was terminology for this sacred end of life care. It was never about me, as I entered into this and I am trying also to do community/family education. I believe that we all are gifted with healing hearts and hands. Open both, let go of fear and support one another as we all will someday be walking our final path and how beautiful to be allowed the space to be surrounded by love.

  12. Thank you. I feel that my simple and heart felt words convey their own strength and meaning.

  13. Thanks Julie. I have lots of thoughts on this, as you can imagine.

    The way I see it, all things become somewhat warped when they are recognized, acknowledged, and institutionalized. It is a part of the cycle. It is OK. It is a reality that speaks to the human condition and the need to constantly reinvent ourselves. But what is important is that moment of discovery: that encroachment on the dream has happened, that a kind of tourism has taken over, and that human beings are taking photos and doing things for the sake of fame or fortune instead of putting down the camera and smelling the flowers, feeling the soil, and finding a deep understanding of the sacredness of what is really going on.

    Then we realize the adulteration and we go back to the origins of the first spark of authentic interest. We search again for the idealistic way of accompanying the sacred act, or preserving the original vision that got us excited and engaged in the first place. We return to the intention.

    Interesting at some point human beings decided to put all of the hovering around pregnancy and a baby arrival, on getting professionals focussed on the moment of birth. Before and after care became diminished to the category of menial tasks. Thus, the first breath of the newborn in modern times is pounced upon, measured and categorized in medical terms, requiring medical surveillance; the action of limbs and heart of the newborn are all in need of more calculations. That’s why the doc runs into the room for the “moment” and then as quickly leaves the rest to the nurses.

    But that focus may be an adulterated one. The mother knows who really helped her through the hours of labour.

    Those that get it, use midwives who can be there for the whole thing; but midwives, too, of course, get warped on the original intention of why they are needed.

    Meanwhile in death, it is often only the loved ones who are there for the last sacred breath. Because they are the ones who see and feel the real value of sitting and accompanying their loved one, whom they have already sat and held for many years, or who has sat and held them for many years, knowing it is all coming to an end–at least on this earth.

    The “professions” have apparently not yet caught on that the last breath is the other moment. Let’s not tell them or they might capitalize on it.
    Parallels of how we act as humans, the 3 steps — acting on the dream, the adulteration of the dream, and the awakeing of the dream– are everywhere.

    I am presently in Auroville, India, a community started when a visionary Indian man who left politics and a psychic French woman, foresaw a village/city dedicated to the ideal of human unity, where all people could live in harmony, regardless of language, nationality, creed or religion. Where schooling would involve unlearning what you have been told, and instead children and adults alike would be enabled to discover the wonders for themselves. Where rubble and dry red dirt and rock could be returned to lush greenery. The vision was started in 1968 when handfuls of earth were brought by children from countries around the world, followed by hippies, dreamers, children, and Indian villagers fulfilling the hardwork of physically, mentally, and spiritually making the dream of the community into a reality. The thriving community, that planted trees and returned barren eroded land to a lush jungle and thriving spiritual and ecological centre celebrated their 50th anniversary 2 years ago. It has become a spiritual mecca for the world.

    But of course, the community realizes they have become a tourist attraction and they have to continually work on how to continue and develop the dream without getting warped. Human beings here get into huge arguments about whether the focus should be on the SOIL and saving the planet or on the SOUL and meditating everybody to their enlightenment and death. It doesn’t mean give up. Just recognize we are all fallible, nobody is all-knowing, be vigilant and keep returning to the vision.

    Julie, we live in the Ottawa Valley, where Irish, Scottish, Polish and Indigenous peoples confronted and enjoyed each other many years ago and created their ideals, but also, with Golden Lake, caused major injustices and colonial trouble. Hippies moved in and shook it up a bit. It is part of the social fabric to understand past wrongs of past colonial dreams, but celebrate new ways of doing things, usually more authentic and more just than already exists. The Catholic Church had lots of stuff right. But some stuff very wrong. Hence, we are presently, with other Canadians, unlearning certain things, but valuing what we share and got right and renaming and reworking what is good.

    Meanwhile, with the present state of the loss of birds, bees, and butterflies, raping of the land, and extremes in climate, we have new challenges our ancestors did not have to face.

    Somehow humans just need to financially survive but keep getting back to the garden. I didn’t quite get in your history how the term “celebrant” emerged. You made it sound like the community came up with it or maybe I got something wrong? I have loved the term, though, since you started using it a few years ago.

    I am heartened that after months of not even seeing you, I began to strongly think about you out of the blue, feeling your energy from halfway across the world, sensing a crisis and crescendo that I did not realize you had put into print.

    I’ll be back soon to plant seedlings in Burnstown and make up somehow for my carbon footprint and reconnect with you and the Valley.

    Love you and your family and all you stand for.

  14. Thank you for this clear and thoughtful reply to Julie’s reflection, it has provided insight for me that is valuable and will be productive. And if you run into Daniel Greenberg at Auroville please give him a Shutesbury hug from Dina (and enjoy his smile).

  15. Julie, there are some folks in the doula training community I would like to share this with, is this ok with you?

  16. I belive this is a very important topic that needs further exploration. I would love to hear replies from trainers who are drawing in large numbers of students (many of who have very little experience with dying and death) who walk toward this work with full hearts and great anticipation that they will be engaged in full-time, sustainable, well-paid work helping people achieve a “good death”.

    I’d also like to hear from all who have ideas about how to get people interested and involved in supporting people who are dealing with EOL without monetizing it.

  17. Julie, I rarely read something this long on the computer as due to an early life/death experience of my own, my nervous system resists long screen visits. Thank you for this authentic and real inquiry. I feel it in my bones and flesh.

  18. Angela Lutzenberger

    February 3, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    This is beautiful and true. Thank you so, so much.

  19. Allison Cardinal

    February 4, 2020 at 5:50 am

    Thank you for taking the time to reflect on this matter. I am a hospice volunteer who has had some buddhist-based training in contemplative care and have an EOL Doula certificate from an American University. I was also married to a Cree Traditional Healer and assisted him in his work, which included counseling terminally ill individuals.

    My interest in death and dying was precipitated by my father’s death from cancer. Like many cancer sufferers, he was subjected to months of chemo and radiation, and, when it became apparent to his doctors that they could do no more, they informed him and my mother that he was dying and only had another week or so to live. A hospital social worker told us to get in touch with our local hospice, but the hospice would not do anything until my father’s health insurance was approved. Until then, my family was on our own trying to coordinate his home care with our family physician while dealing with our father’s and our own emotional devastation. I called the hospice and begged them to send someone – anyone – to talk to my mother, but they would do nothing until they got the green light from the insurance company. Fortunately, I had a friend whose aunt had died of cancer, and she explained to me all the physical changes and suggested getting a morphine drip (my father could no longer swallow his pills). We did the best we could under the circumstances, and my father died early one morning, ten days after he was sent home from the hospital. A few hours after he died, I received a call from the hospice, saying they were ready to come. I told them not to bother- that my father was dead, and hung up the phone. Afterwards, I vowed to learn would I could about death and dying so I would be prepared for the next time death appeared in front of me.

    Because of this, I cannot charge people for my doula work. If I did, I would become like that hospice, and be putting a dollar value on something that should be freely shared out of love and compassion. My vision it to create community around death and dying so we can all be there for each other just as you experienced as a child.

  20. This article has me thinking so many things. As a doula who has been around for a few years (long enough to know how much I don’t know) a lot of it resonates with me. I just got a call from a doula fresh out of training who wants to start a program to train the hospice volunteers where I have worked for years. This is the product of the hype and the trainings and frankly the hubris.
    But as a doula I have also had many calls with people who are utterly stressed out and desperate seemingly with no family or community members to hold space for them. This is where I see the doula work being critical. I was one of these people myself when my husband died and knew some big pieces were missing but no one around me was speaking to them or showing me the way. Agreed no one is making a living at this unless they are trainers and have a program. But at this point I believe the work is necessary and provides for a lot of healing whether it is paid or unpaid. I frequently get a check in the mail months later for services rendered. The fact remains that 8 out of 10 people want to die at home and 8 out of 10 people aren’t ready for it. And hospice is there 5% of the time. So doulas support the process until the culture has been educated. And that takes more than one death for some people.

  21. What food for thought! I thank you Julie.
    I have not always been comfortable with the monetary aspect and the heavy, at times, sales pitches from trainers. There is always more to lean and pay for it as well, it seems. Also Google etc. has me locked into Death Doula advertisements furthering the commercialization of the movement.
    As a retired NP who practiced in palliative and end of life care for the elderly I have been called for help and advocacy in challenging instances before and after retirement. It felt like a good step for me to take and pay for an EOL Doula course. I wanted to be ‘out there’ for my community in this new role to enhance my already well-honed skills. After the course It motivated me to pay for a coach to ‘market’ my new skills. I was not in the space to do a big marketing program however. Getting paid for the service was always a focus if not a priority in these programs. My American Express has taken a big hit for me to learn much that I already know and am innately drawn to. I have deep respect for my teachers and I also acknowledge the need to place value on education and training.
    On the positive side, the community education I have done at our senior center has been well received and they look for more. My part in an Aging Well series at my church has further highlighted the value of my knowledge base to my much loved community who often seek my support. I do have one ‘client’ whom I support as an advocate as they go though a cancer diagnosis and treatment plan that is very rewarding for both, we are now friends. I just sent her an invoice for services rendered for the past three months. Your sharing of your journey and evolving perspective has caused me to pause and re-think how I will ‘be’ in the death caring community. A re-alignment so to speak with my values.
    I thank you for that Julie.

  22. I feel this as well. I’m so glad to see it voiced by another!

  23. Greetings Julie, while I don’t share some of your feelings/experience, there is a lot in your blog that ‘speaks my mind’. I am also disconcerted with the ‘hype’ around death that has arisen; and, for example, too many people claiming skills without in-depth training and little (if any) experience. While I do continue my private practice, most of my time goes into education (mostly via CINDEA) — including providing resources for families to ‘do it themselves’ throughout the whole of the process.
    I am glad that the alternative deathcare movement has happened (especially reviving ancient practices and ecological alternatives): I believe that some real changes have been made. I also know that most new movements go ‘too far’ before the ‘pendulum’ swings back again and finds a more authentic balance. I believe that we are only beginning to ‘swing back’ (at least some DWENA folks) and truly ground ourselves. That said, I appreciate you NAMING the fault lines – the lines where we run the risk of becoming exactly the opposite of what we THOUGHT we were building. All blessings in your further journey.

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