End of Life Doula, Educator and Speaker

In 2014, my mom spent the last 10 days of her life in a hospital in Toronto. Between my sister and I, one of us was with mom all the time – day and night.

Although mom’s time of passing was near, she was kept in a regular hospital ward and not palliative care. Every touch or movement was extremely painful for her. Yet, the nurses insisted on taking Mom’s vitals every hour, despite the fact that she was dying, because that was “hospital policy”.

We could not stand to see our mother in so much pain, so I told the social worker we were going to take mom home to die. Miraculously, a bed became available in the palliative ward within hours. Mom passed two days later.

At no time were we provided with treatment and care options, told about hospice services available or told about our mother’s rights.

Mom’s final journey was painful and unpleasant. This is not what we would have wished for her, nor for anyone nearing their death.

In December of 2017, I became aware of the term “ Death Doula”. Determined to ease the suffering of the dying process for others, I enrolled in the Douglas College End of Life Doula Certificate Program in March 2018.

In January 2018, my dear friend, Jan, was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. With the assistance of close friends, we were able to arrange for one of us to be at the hospital with Jan throughout each day until her family arrived from out of province.  We were able to speak with the doctors, help with decisions about care and treatment, and run various errands.

Jan kept saying she was my “guinea pig”, and when I was taking the Doula program, she insisted I see her after every class to update her on what we were learning.

I created a legacy video for Jan, using pictures and music she selected. Jan got to watch and enjoy this with her family.

My friend Jan passed at home on March 9, 2018, medically assisted. Sixteen of us gathered around Jan’s bed that evening. We sang together, laughed, cried and said our goodbyes.

Jan went on her own terms with a smile – a drastic contrast to my mom’s story.

I believe everyone should have a say in their care and treatment and be advised of all of their options.

I believe everyone’s dignity should be kept intact and their wishes honoured.

I believe everyone should have a plan in place for their final journey and have discussions with their loved ones about their wishes for end-of-life care and treatment,

I believe everyone should have an advocate/friend/confidante with whom to walk the final journey.

I would like to help make your end-of-life journey as gentle, connected and caring as possible, for the sake of you and the ones you love.