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Meet our Changemaker

May 2023

Image by Drew Beamer

Kelly Hurley

Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula, Life-Cycle Celebrant, Ceremony & Ritual Guide

"Kelly is a graduate of HHA’s infant and pregnancy loss doula (IPLD) certificate program. In the last year she has written 5 blog posts for HHA and was the guest speaker for a monthly doula learning night. She facilitates the workshop “Loved, Honoured, Remembered: A Workshop to Invite Healing Through Remembrance Rituals", and is also developing other workshops that she intends to run for HHA later this year and in 2024. She is deeply committed with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share and HHA is very fortunate for her continued contributions to our education and engagement programs." - Cari Ferguson, IPLD Candidate Advisor

How did your journey with HHA start?

I saw a gap in support for those who have experienced infant and pregnancy loss in my community. I researched organizations that provide competencies for companioning bereaved families, and recognized that the IPLD program through HHA could meet my expectations. My role in HHA is blog contributor, focusing on IPLD-related subjects; and guest speaker/facilitator for the Doula Learning Nights.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What's important to you and why?

I am a Life-Cycle Celebrant and an HHA Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doula graduate serving families through my practice in the East Kootenay’s, British Columbia. I became a Celebrant & IPLD after a 30-year career of working with people undergoing loss, trauma and mental health challenges. I feel passionate about bringing together community to support those dealing with disenfranchised grief; so I am also active in my area organizing community events & workshops that assist local families and the agencies that serve them. This summer, I am expanding my scope of service to include healing ritual and ceremony to support those who have experienced pet loss.

What impact is your work at HHA having in your community or the communities HHA serves?

Not only does HHA support the dying and bereaved in our communities, but it also fosters a model of supporting those who support others’ by providing a safe place for people to learn and collaborate. My involvement with HHA, post course graduation has centered around the intention of supporting the IPLD community. My personal journey to create an IPLD practice in my community has been challenging on many fronts. Unlike Death Doulas, IPLD numbers are fewer, with less opportunities for continued professional development, resources, and a lack of service awareness. HHA really strives to create a sense of “Doula community” support within its candidates and graduates, and I have benefited from that community. I also feel I can share in & contribute to that initiative. I would like to see HHA continue with the model of professional support as part of their scope of practice in the future, possibly expanding knowledge/learning-based opportunities for Death Doulas/IPLD’s into the area of professional practice advancement.

Who inspires you, and why? 

Individuals who inspire me change, depending on what is happening in terms of our society’s complex challenges. Right now, I have a concern about what is occurring in the arena of “helping” the dying/bereaved. Over the last couple years, I have witnessed a move away from the true concept of “doula/companioning” service for our communities based on Best Practice. I am seeing a large appetite for Insta-Death/IPLD Doula certifications (same for grief support, Celebrants, etc.) through micro-courses; and the regular & trendy use of “expert”, “master”, “healer”, “specialist” language for an individual's description of their skill sets. We are losing sight of what is at the heart of true community service, who is the “expert” in death, dying and bereavement, and how practicing with proper training & the utmost integrity is paramount when serving our fellow beings who are in such vulnerable circumstances. Who inspires me today? Those institutions & organizations who offer learning programs based on Best Practice models, fostering & empowering competencies and client-centered ideologies not driven by dollars & numbers and trends. Those Death/IPLD Doulas/Doula Candidates who, through hard work, patience, time, and personal self exploration, have developed a sense of themselves as humble companions to the dying and bereaved with the sole intent of holding space for what arises with a ”beginners mind”.

What are some things you've learned about yourself since starting at HHA?

HHA has shown me the importance of professional community. Being in community with other Death/IPLD Doulas, sharing ideas, expanding horizons, and opening doors through active engagement. As we support each other to serve those in our communities that are dying or bereaved, we weave a web of kindness, fellowship and the intentional ability to be present for ‘what is’. As Joanna Macy states, “Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of the world.”

The Mantra: “Gentle Our Way In”
Kelly explains: It’s the way you have to approach outreach in your community practice; taking steps to reach those who, in many cases, don’t have a voice. It’s the way I must explore my own grief, not with the goal of fixing it, but of gentle attention and observation. As Wolfelt says, “meeting people at the soul level”.

Design Book

Words that reflect Kelly's approach

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