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Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) and the Death Doula

What is a Death Doula, and what do they do?”

This is a question that is no doubt very familiar to both practising death doulas and death doula candidates. In their unique roles, death doulas are trained to provide non-medical support to help individuals and their families navigate the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of dying.

Death doulas also play a key role in terms of administrative and logistical planning and support before, during, and after a death. They help with Advance Care Planning (ACP) and end-of-life planning, assist with funeral and celebration-of-life arrangements, and create legacy projects. They are also trained to help facilitate conversations between clients and their families/friends that may otherwise prove challenging or that would not happen at all.

In essence, death doulas are equipped to provide compassionate and comprehensive support to a dying individual and their loved ones throughout their entire end-of-life journey.

What is Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)?

Medical Assistance in Dying, or MAiD, provides individuals who are experiencing intolerable suffering due to a grievous and irremediable (incurable) medical condition the option to end their life with the assistance of a doctor or nurse practitioner. The original passage of Canada’s Bill C-14 occurred in June 2016. Bill C-14 formally legalized assisted dying in Canada and laid out rules for how it could be accessed. Canada’s revised MAiD law Bill C-7 was tabled by the federal government in February 2020 and reached Royal Assent on March 17, 2021.

You can read more about MAiD and Bills C-7 and C-14 here.

How do Death Doulas Assist Those Accessing MAiD and their Families?

When someone chooses MAiD over a natural death, there are many ways that a death doula can provide support for both the individual accessing MAiD and for their loved ones. This may include:

  • providing information about eligibility, the process of applying for MAiD, who is authorized to provide MAiD, and how to contact them

  • explaining details and answering questions (e.g., medical and legal considerations) about the process of MAiD

  • discussing and planning the location and how to prepare for MAiD

  • ensuring that health and personal care wishes are honoured

  • facilitating meaningful and/or difficult conversations

  • planning, and if requested, participating in vigils

  • overseeing legacy and work-life review (e.g., scrapbooking, letter writing to loved ones, video farewells, etc.)

  • offering and facilitating non-medical comfort care/complementary therapies that may be requested (e.g., guided meditation, reiki, hypnotherapy, therapeutic music, massage, essential oil therapies, etc.)

  • providing information about what needs to be done after death has occurred (e.g., body disposition options and funeral/celebration-of-life planning)

Death doulas hold space, provide compassionate and dignified care, empower, educate, and comfort the individual accessing MAiD and their loved ones throughout the entire end-of-life journey. This comprehensive support both honours and celebrates a life lived and creates enduring and meaningful memories for those left behind.

Are You a Death Doula who Aspires to Support Those Seeking a Medically Assisted Death?

Home Hospice Association (HHA) offers a professional development workshop that builds on skills learned in death doula training called MAiD and the Death Doula. The session provides insight into the challenges of working with a client who chooses MAiD over a natural death. HHA’s next workshop will be held virtually on Saturday, January 28th from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. You can register to attend here.


Carole Brulé is an end-of-life doula, HHA infant and pregnancy loss doula candidate, and a visiting home hospice and pediatric palliative care volunteer.

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