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Death Doula Work is a Privilege

The end of life deserves as much care, beauty, and respect as the beginning of life.

I have become a death doula…what does that even mean? What does that look like? What does a death doula do?

stack of white envelopes and one beige envelope with a white ribbon around it

For me, when I say I am a death doula, it means I am a human who holds space for other humans at the end of life. I help them to navigate all the things that come with dying. I provide comfort and companionship.

It is my very strong belief, that all humans deserve to die with dignity and with the love of another human…no matter what…every single human.

What does that actually look like?

How Does a Death Doula Actually Navigate the End of Life?

I have the privilege—and YES, I truly believe it is a privilege—to work with humans as they are journey toward the end of their life, to help clients plan what their end looks like for them. I help them forget what society has told them that death should look like and instead work with them to figure out what they want it to look like for them. We discuss how they want to be remembered and what we can do to save those memories for their family and friends to have when they are gone. As a death doula, I help another human’s wishes be known and honoured. I hold space for people to feel heard and be seen at the end of their life.

I do things such as end-of-life care planning, funeral and memorial planning, and legacy work. I can work with clients to write letters to loved ones, record memories, and document stories. I can help plan parties to celebrate a person’s life while they are still here, rather than just when they are gone. How amazing is that ?! Why not celebrate the life you lived with everyone you love?!

Another huge puzzle piece in what I do is holding space for family and friends when their loved one is gone. Grief is painful and can feel super lonely at times. As a death doula, I offer support groups and other safe spaces for humans to feel and process their grief.

We live in a society where death isn’t often talked about. It is something that so many individuals view as dark, painful, and fearful. It is my goal as a death doula to change that within my adorable community. I truly believe that if we were to open the door for open communication about death, fear would disappear, and we would start to see how beautiful end of life can be. We would see that it can be a time full of love…love for ourselves, love for our family and friends, love for our universe.

Being a death doula is not a job or a career. Rather, it is one of the biggest privileges I have ever been given.

Anyone interested in becoming a death doula can register for HHA's Death Doula certificate program here. The next available training weekend is September 22-24, 2023.


Jen Thompson is a graduate of HHA's Death Doula certificate program as well as an HHA infant and pregnancy loss doula candidate. You can learn more about Jen by following her Instagram page @withdignity_deathdoula.

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