The Evolution of an End of Life Doula Movement


When I look back on how I came to teach “Sacred Passage: End of Life Doula” education, I see a beautiful pattern of connections and relationships, events and places. All playing unique roles. All touching. All connected. A long steady stream of connections from early childhood to now creating a beautiful life design.

I can see myself as a small child with my mother going to homes or hospital rooms of people who were sick and dying. My mom was a non-medical, natural-born caregiver whose healing gifts were intact, I suspect, from the moment she was born. Caring was her calling.

I see my mom caring for people so tenderly, confidently and with love. Feeding sometimes. Cleaning sometimes. Sitting sometimes. Cooking. Just sitting. Wetting the mouth. Touching the forehead. Just being there.

I see the small town I lived in. 1,200 people. A town square. Court house. School. And churches. Lots of churches. Our social events were simple: Marriage, birthdays, graduations, christenings, funerals. These normal life celebrations provided a close up view into the lives of our town and families. Nursing homes, funeral homes, and churches were very impactful to me. I knew at an early age I was witnessing important sacred transitions and felt very comfortable and called to be a part of them.

My own healing journey eventually took hold, and as I struggled with my own personal challenges and desire for change, the teachers and teachings and all my work experience and professional training came together. I learned how to be with and support many different kinds of intimate life situations, people, families, systems, groups, communities. I learned to give back the amazing gifts of healing that I had received. My work is based on this principle: That when we experience care, love and healing, the nature of our heart is to give back what we have received according to our own gifts and talents.

In 2013 I founded the Conscious Dying Institute to give back this care, to restore the end-of-life caring profession to its natural place so that families and patients can receive the care they want most in all domains of life. The work of the Conscious Dying Institute renews the true purpose and calling of many people drawn to this work. They know it is connected to the spiritual awakening of self and others.

This doesn’t mean there is a proscription for “spiritual awakening” or for “what people need.” It means that as we grow and deepen in our own authentic presence, and become intimate with end-of-life desires and wishes, we are more able to inquire, understand and offer what is most important to others.

Conscious Dying Institute is an end-of-life doula education and health care training organization that expands the innate healing presence of frontline caregivers, medical and non-medical, instilling confidence to have end-of-life conversations, while preparing them to offer multi-dimensioned healing care to patients in hospices, senior communities and large healthcare systems across the United States and Canada.

The End of Life Doula movement is a grassroots movement like the natural birthing movement was decades ago. It is a movement to elevate the current unsatisfying and long suffering experience of death. As we become less afraid of dying, understanding all life moves through cycles or regeneration, we have the potential to leave the body, the Earth, being more complete, with less baggage, less pain and suffering. We learn to die in a less costly, more natural, and more sustainable way.

We are creating a new “careforce” of Doulas who are available to respond to the next generation’s desire for a good, healthy, natural way to die. People are really getting on board to have death be the next wave alternative holistic way of life.

Isn’t this is wonderful! At the very time our culture, nation, families, friends and health care systems need and want more comforting, holistic end-of-life care, less technical medical curative care, there is a massive wave of people ready to give this kind of care! At the very time the baby boomers and our parents are aging and approaching death, we are now learning to give the holistic end-of-life care we have experienced throughout our new aging boomer lives! A magnificent force of amazing caregivers are showing up to “be the ones” — to remember how to do this sacred work — so we can all share the depths and beauty of who we truly are before, nearing, during and after death.

My desire for the future of this work is that we all have more time to experience healing and care well before we die — to have support to explore and receive the love, care and healing we most want and need. Our goal at the Conscious Dying Institute is to provide the preparation needed to befriend death; to learn to surrender and trust deeply in each moment as we become supportive and effective end of life companions.

Our training programs benefit all those involved in the care of life, love, family and healing. Please join us with the reach toward the evolution of human consciousness through our practices to restore death to its sacred place in the beauty, mystery and celebration of life.

The following are two Minnesota Conscious Dying events:

• “Walking with Death: Conscious Dying Practices for Compassion and Transformation” with your guides Echo Bodine and Tarron Estes, from 6-9 p.m. on July 13 at The Center for Intuitive Living, 5356 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis MN, $35. Contact or 651.303.0744.

• Conscious Dying Training (Phase 1 of the “Sacred Passage: End of Life Doula Certificate”) featuring Personal Transformation and Healing Care Practices for the End of Life Journey and introducing “Best Three Months: Conscious Dying Coaching and Care Planning,” on September 7-9 in Mankato MN. Contact, 303.440.8018, or, 651.303.0744.


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