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What's Your Breaking Point?

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

For me, it’s shortness of breath. That gasping, desperate feeling that is so fundamentally antithetical to everything our body needs to feel alive. This, I believe, is my breaking point. I think to myself, if I ever get there, let me go on my own terms...quickly, peacefully, surrounded by loved ones. Let me have MAID, leaving my loved ones in the capable hands of a death doula.

What are your terms? What would your breaking point be? Is it losing the ability to be independent as MS ravages your body, or living with extreme nausea as your organs fail? How about intractable pain and suffering as cancer eats away at your bones? What is that one type of suffering that you just don’t think you could bear? Have you ever thought about this?

This past Saturday was the Diana Pathway workshop, which trains death doulas to care for MAiD patients, we explored the nuances of this question and so, so many more…how do we navigate the intricacies of family dynamics and assisted death? How do we stay in our lanes as death doulas supporting MAiD clients? How do we prepare for that initial meeting when a client shares their wish with us—in their sacred, safe space—to die on their own terms?

As death doulas, we work to create holistic end-of-life care plans for folks from all walks of life, who are dying all sorts of different deaths. We work with clients and families from diagnosis to death and beyond. Every day, death doulas across Canada are changing how Canadians die, and how we face death. But what’s to stop us from going beyond that, from becoming experts at walking clients through the journey of facing assisted death while holding sacred space for loved ones through the process? The answer: nothing.

In the workshop, we explored everything from the practicalities of becoming a MAID death doula, to the personal, emotional, and introspective journey we have all walked as we took on this privileged and dynamic work. We shared stories, laughs, and a few tears as we explored the “how to”s, the “what if”s, and the “why not”s of becoming a MAiD death doula. Join us next time to learn this and more!

HHA’s next MAiD and the Death Doula workshop is on Saturday, January 28th from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. You can register to attend here.


Leslie Shafran, BSW, MSW, RSW is a Home Hospice Association facilitator, the Diana Pathway program manager & a MAID subject matter expert.

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