What's in an end of life doula name?
Updated: Oct 3, 2020
The growing field of end of life doulas has a number of appellations attached - here are some of my favourites. What's yours?...
Those Gentle Readers familiar with my blog and website will know that I refer to myself as an "End Of Life Consultant and educator" - mainly because "death" is a moment, whereas end of life refers to a spectrum of time that reflects the kind of interaction with my clients I usually share (and my skillset is considerable so I offer more than many end of life doulas). Time is precious, and there is also the fact that as we reclaim death literacy we are still dealing with phobias and superstitions around the word 'death'... i.e.: having 'death' in my job title isn't always the best way to win hearts and encourage conversations.
However, there are many different names and titles that practitioners use, both here in Australia as well as overseas, and some of them really tickle my fancy, so I thought I would dedicate an entire blog post to the ones I know about. If you have heard of a new one - or you yourself use a different one - please do let me know so I can keep the list fresh and up to date.
End of Life Consultant - A useful, and broader/deeper, descriptor for practitioners like me who have an extensive skillset to bring to the table in terms of qualifications and experience - I like to think of it as End of Life Doula 2.0++.
End Of Life Doula
Death Doula - A shorter title than the one I prefer and use, but sometimes easier for people just learning about advance planning or looking around for options to use. As end of life is a spectrum of time, whereas 'death' is but a moment, I prefer to not use this to describe my skill-set and range of services. However, if you ask me if this is what I do I will say "Yes".
Thanadoula - While one does need to explain the link to Thanos the Greek god of death, this term is growing in popularity, particularly in Canada/North America
Deathwalker - preferred term for the role by Australian trainer Zenith Virago and her graduates
Concierge of Death - Someone/s REALLY likes The Black List I suspect - I know this term is used in the USA and it always brings a smile to my face. If we cannot laugh at end of life then what is the point?
Intimate Stranger - From the French femme strange. I am very attached to this one, and this is how I myself, and many other End of Life practitioners, often privately think of ourselves in terms of our work.
Amicus Mortis - A 'friend of the dying' (from the Latin), quite lovely I think.
Death Coach - Recently I have been asked if this is what I do so I say "Yes" - because if this makes sense to clients or practitioners why not)
Death Guide / Death-and-Dying Guide
Death Midwife / Soul Midwife / Midwife for the Dying - N.B.: for legal reasons we do NOT use these terms in Australia as End of Life Doulas; 'midwife' is a medicalised term only to be used by people who hold specific nursing midwife degrees.
Home Funeral Guide - This term is sometimes used in the USA to be more gender-inclusive of all practitioners regardless of gender identity, as the word 'doula' is inherently feminine, but this is confusing as home funeral work is quite separate to end of life doula work.