I never thought in a million years that I would have experienced anything like this. I am currently providing hospice support in a correctional facility, which is not a common goal that any people dream of or strive towards.
I have read many books and articles about the experience of a death doula, and HHA has given me all the necessary tools to become a very competent and compassionate one. However, serving as a death doula within a correctional facility is quite unique. It is not an environment that many (if any) in Ontario, possibly Canada, have experienced. Being in a setting where the individuals inside have been deemed an outcast to society is very humbling.
You learn rather quickly that any biases or preconceived notions that you may have must be left at the door. I felt a sense of pride that I was given the opportunity to work with people who have been judged and condemned by the outside world. It gave me great joy to not only be able to gain their trust but to see them as human beings and not as convicted criminals.
I am blessed to have this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people who are infamously remembered and easily forgotten. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their incarceration, I am honoured to provide some semblance of normalcy and peace of mind during their end of life journey.
HHA has an event we are doing hosting internally on January 16, 2024 for HHA death doulas and death doula candidates to able to:
hear more about my experience in corrections so far
learn about HHA's Prison Hospice Pilot Project
introduce the “Check Your Assumptions at the Door” bias assessment
encourage participants to join our pilot project or create a team to walk in the Moonlit Memory Walk to help fund the work we are doing
Stephanie Byfield is an HHA death doula candidate. You can learn more information about her at www.revivalwellnesspickering.com.