The process of life and death is cyclical—we all come into this world and eventually everyone exits. Birth is often an exciting occasion, while death can bring grief and heartache. Both, however, involve change that we might not ever be quite prepared for. There is support though that can make these transitions smoother.   

Many mothers choose to work with a doula or midwife in preparation for their little one coming into this world. And, did you know that many seek out the support of a doula in preparation for death as well?  


In birth: a doula provides emotional and physical support to the mother before, during, and after pregnancy and childbirth. It’s important to note that doulas are not medical professionals. They do not deliver babies or provide medical care.  

In death: a doula (also known as an end-of-life doula) is a person who provides non-medical support, guidance, companionship to individuals and their families as they navigate the death process.  

The process of receiving support from the beginning to the end is similar. But we’re not here to talk about the birthing process, we’re here to support you in knowing how to best care for your loved ones when the time of death is nearing. In addition to having your funeral arrangements discussed in advance, it can be very supportive to have the support of a death doula. 

Let’s look at end of life doula care as well as hospice care so that you can learn and understand the difference and what will be most supportive for you and your dying loved one when the time is near.   


  1. Emotional Support: provide compassionate and emotional support to the dying individual and their loved ones. They can offer reassurance and comfort during a difficult time.  
  2. Practical Assistance: when it comes to preparing for death, there are a lot of tasks to tend to such as planning, organizing end-of-life arrangements, coordinating care with other professionals (doctors, hospice, funeral directors), and providing information on legal and practical matters.  
  3. Advocacy: many patients and those knocking death’s door often have specific preferences and wishes when it comes to the end of life (DNR, organ donations, etc). A death doula can be supportive in being an advocate for the dying by ensuring that their needs and wishes are met and respected. This takes pressure off the family from having to make difficult decisions.  
  4. Guidance and Education: Doulas are great at informing family and loved ones with information about the dying process and what to expect, which can alleviate anxiety and help family members feel more prepared. 
  5. Spiritual Support: for those who wish, doulas can offer spiritual or existential support by helping the dying person and their family find meaning and peace during the end-of-life journey. 
  6. Consistency of Care: Doulas offer consistency in their support by helping to fill in the gaps in care when family and other caretakers are not available.  
  7. Legacy Work: Doulas can help the dying person to create a legacy—such as a memory book, video, or other keepsakes for their loved ones.  
  8. Bereavement Support: When the individual has passed on, Doulas are there to assist the family with the grieving process by providing resources and loving support.  

While they serve different roles in supporting individuals at the end of life, a death doula and hospice care can complement each other. Read about hospice care on our blog here, so you can determine if one or both are a fit for your family’s needs.