“Death had been my constant companion since I was 14 years old. Unexpectedly, my dad collapsed from a heart attack and died immediately. It seemed that my life stopped on that ill-fated day! After 18 years of putting a smile on my face to hide an aching heart, I finally grieved the loss of my dad through the help of a spiritual advisor. However, my fear of death still remained. Death came to visit me again in 1997 when my husband and I were confronted with his terminal diagnosis of congestive heart failure. To this day, I can still feel the numbness that overtook my body upon hearing the news. We were both in a state of shock and scared! All the plans for the years ahead were dashed. Almost immediately my husband withdrew into an inner space of solitude. I longed for our previous connection of talking about everything, but he said talking about his death was too painful to discuss. Both feeling alone, we needed someone to talk with, someone to listen. Thank goodness for the hospice nurses, social workers, chaplains and volunteers. They listened and encouraged us to take one day at a time as our life transitioned through the roller-coaster days of change and impending death. Hospice was our companion and part-time confidant until my husband’s death in the spring of 1999. Three years after my husband’s death, and overcoming my fear of death, I became a hospice volunteer to share what had so generously been given. Shortly thereafter a new career path opened, and I transitioned into fifteen years of successful hospice leadership, of which nine years were as a Hospice CEO. It was while leading a hospice in Maryland that I was introduced to the end-of-life doula movement, and a new chapter for my life presented itself. They say when one door closes, another opens. This is so true. The door to becoming a Doula and Doula Trainer opened. One may wonder what attracted me to the Doula concept of non-medical care. It was my experience as a hospice CEO. I could see on the horizon that health care was changing and hospice was changing. I experienced first-hand the frustration trying to stay within the Medicare guidelines and regulations while hospice staff became frustrated and hurried in their attempt to see so many patients and families. Staff felt guilty knowing they could not fulfill all their patients and families needs such as additional education, support, and reassurance. It is a “fact” that patients and families, at the end-of- life need extra reassurance, support and continual education as to not be so frightened. I know this to be “fact” from my own personal experience. Doula care is not meant to replace hospice, it is the “fill in the gap companion” to provide that extra and higher level of care, attention and education that is missing in many facets of our healthcare system today. Once I researched and learned first-hand about End-of-Life Doulas, my decision was simple. I added a new division, Doulagivers of North Central Florida, to my transformation coaching business, appleSeeders. I trained and became a member of the International End-of-Life Doula Association (INELDA) and completed a Certified End-of-Life Doula Training Program with Doulagivers.
Now, I that I am an End-of-Life Doula Trainer it is my desire to bring six years of college education, my personal passion for end of life care and 16+ years professional hospice experience to join with Suzanne O’Brien, RN, Founder and President of Doulagivers to provide the highest level of education and certification for End-of-Life Doulas. Together we will Learn the Skill, Change the World!
Elder Care Doula
Certified End of Life Doula
Doulagivers Care Consultant