March 17th, 2023 is a groundbreaking day for HHA – today is the day that our MAID pilot project launches as an official PROGRAM! Welcome to The Diana Pathway: HHA’s commitment to supporting an individual’s right to choose a dignified death and to educating death doulas to be experts in their care.
HHA’s vision of supporting individuals through the assisted dying process first came to fruition in the winter of 2017, when HHA Death Doula Merri-Lee took on our first MAID client: Diana Steinwald. Through the course of Diana’s journey, a vision emerged – one that her husband Dan was a driving factor behind. Diana was passionate about individuals being empowered to make decisions that reflected their own personal values and preferences for individualized healthcare when faced with a terminal illness, and she was a passionate advocate for medical assistance in dying. Ultimately, Diana passed away peacefully via MAID on March 17th, 2017 with the support of an HHA Death Doula at her side, along with her loving husband and nearest and dearest family and friends – and thus the living wake was born.
Enacting the values Diana embodied, HHA took on a mission founded in four principles which today drive our Diana Pathway Program launch. These principles include:
educating Death Doulas on how to work with clients accessing MAID
creating forums to engage in meaningful conversation around MAID
offering a consultative service to advise death doulas who are working with MAID clients
engaging in advocacy and community outreach around MAID.
With today's program launch, the Diana Pathway is recommitting to our mission: to “Educate, Engage, Advise, and Advocate” for death doulas who are working with clients who have chosen MAID.
As part of our mission to engage in advocacy and community outreach around MAID, HHA has launched its MAID Death Café series! Each HHA MAID Death Café provides conversation starters to help facilitate meaningful conversations around MAID. Imagine sitting around a campfire chatting with your closest friends, except your closest friends in a Death Café are from all over the world!
In our MAID Death Cafés, we ask questions such as:
what feelings and emotions does the thought of MAID conjure up in you?
When you think about folks with disabilities accessing MAID, what are your first thoughts?
Do you feel MAID and suicide are different?
When you think of a couple accessing MAID together, what feelings and emotions come to mind?
Not only do these make for riveting conversation during our Death Cafés, they are also offered as a take home so the conversation can continue with family and friends. To join us for our upcoming MAID Death Café on April 27th, you can register here.
I joined the HHA Team in 2019, first as a death doula candidate, then as HHA's MAID subject matter expert, and today as the program manager and force driving our vision of being leaders in the field of death doula education around MAID. I am passionate about all things MAID, but also about all of the different ways in which death doulas can support individuals and loved ones at end of life.
Have you or a loved one considered MAID? Reach out to a Diana Pathway Death Doula today! For more information ab]out The Diana Pathway, reach out to Leslie at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie Shafran, BSW, MSW, RSW is a Home Hospice Association facilitator, the Diana Pathway program manager & a MAID subject matter expert.