End-of-Life Doula Training


End-of-Life Doula Training

2017 Training Schedule in Ann Arbor, MI

Register by the Early Registration Deadline (ERD) and save. Save your spot today!

End-of-Life Doula Training ($515)
  1. Dates

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End-of-Life Doula Training ($515; $465 ERD)
  1. Dates

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Workshop Content for End-of-Life Doula Training

  • What is a “good death”?
  • Exploring the dying process
  • The needs of the dying and the family
  • Biopsychosocial-spiritual-cultural aspects
  • The doula model of care
  • Accompanying the dying (holding vigil, creating a peaceful atmosphere)
  • Grief and bereavement support
  • Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Scope of practice for EOL doulas
  • Active listening and communication skills
  • Family needs assessment
  • Hands-on comfort measures
  • Self-care for the caregiver(s)
  • Natural after death care–home funerals and green burial choices
  • EOL doula practice considerations

Who will benefit from End-of-Life Doula Training?

  • Family members and friends of the dying
  • Hospice and palliative care providers
  • Midwives and doulas
  • Nurses and doctors
  • Social workers
  • Clergy, chaplains, celebrants
  • Healers and therapists
  • Those who provide home care and companion care
  • Life coaches
  • Death educators
  • Those who want to prepare for their own death

This training is not designed to be a grief support group. We respectfully ask that if you have suffered a loss within the year prior to this workshop that you consider waiting before engaging this work or discuss your situation with one of the instructors prior to registering.

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What is an End-of-Life Doula?

what is end-of-life doulaA new frontier … the End-of-Life Doula

Doulas provide holistic, personalized care to individuals and families as they experience life’s major transitions … birth, the early weeks of new parenthood, and death. While the services of birth and postpartum doulas are becoming more mainstream, the role of the End-of-Life Doula is relatively new and evolving. Merilynne and Patty each share their perspectives.

Thoughts from Merilynne …

An End-of-Life Doula accompanies the dying person and their loved ones through the final months, weeks and days of life. He/she provides support, resources, education and friendship for those who accept and embrace dying as a period of life, not just an abrupt ending. This period of life may last a year or a day. It brings challenges and joys, sorrows and opportunity. The end-of-life doula adds a layer of support for both the dying person and their family to help them live life to the fullest.

In our November training (Michigan’s first!), participants learn what an end-of-life doula is and does and how to support the dying and their loved ones through education, accompaniment, referrals to resources in the community and companionship. End-of-Life Doulas learn to enhance and empower, rather than usurp the role of friends, family, medical team and spiritual care providers. They learn how to set guidelines, define their reach, maintain good boundaries and practice self-care.

As more and more of us live longer and face chronic and life-limiting illness, the period of dying has extended from a few days or weeks to months or years. Medical care focuses solely on cure and treatment. Patients often feel adrift among medical choices while grasping for ways to live with illness in full awareness that death will come. Life choices include acceptance, growth and sharing gifts of love and preparation. There is much meaning to be found during the “dying year” that is profound and life affirming. It is a time of opportunity and growth to be embraced, not shunned. The end-of-life doula guides and accompanies the dying person and their family as they explore this territory and live to the fullest during this transition time.

Thoughts from Patty …

End-of-Life Doulas provide compassionate, practical assistance to individuals and their families as they face death. Doula support services are multi-faceted, encompassing emotional, physical, logistical and educational needs of the family. Most often, services are provided in the home, but can also be provided in assisted living and hospice facilities, nursing homes and hospitals.

End-of-Life Doulas provide comfort and support to individuals who lack family support, who may feel lonely or afraid, or whose primary caregivers are exhausted and in need of respite. The role of end-of-life doula does not duplicate the work of other professionals such as hospice nurses or home health aides. Rather, the end-of-life doula works alongside these professionals, employing a holistic, non-medical skill set. At a time when families are stretched thin and feeling overwhelmed, doulas fill the gaps and provide thoughtful, proactive support to ensure the best quality of life possible, right through the end.

Each end-of-life doula will create his/her own service package. The range of services provided can include:

  • Facilitate end-of-life planning
  • Mediation and advocacy so that the dying person’s wishes are honored
  • Comfort measures for the dying
  • Emotional support
  • Education, information and resources
  • Respite for the caregiver(s)
  • Logistical and household support
  • After death care

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Advance Care PlanningAdvance Care Planning Facilitator Training

Merilynne Rush & Patty Brennan

Become a Respecting Choices® First Steps Facilitator. Training includes how to assist healthy adults to identify a healthcare advocate, discuss their values and wishes with their advocate, and complete an Advance Directive document. Course fulfills training portion of the Respecting Choices® First Steps Facilitator certification process.

Training Prerequisites

  • Complete four online training modules (access will be provided in early January)
  • Initiate an advance care planning discussion with someone.
  • Complete an Advance Directive practice document.
  • You can expect that the pre-training homework will take approximately 4-6 hours of your time.

Respecting Choices®

Respecting Choices® is an international, evidence-based advance care planning (ACP) program with a key message: ACP is a process of communication rather than a signature on a document. This process enables individuals to:

  • Understand their choices for future healthcare
  • Reflect on personal goals, values, religious or cultural beliefs
  • Talk to physicians, healthcare agents and loved ones about their preferences.

To be effective, this process of communication needs to be individualized, based on a person’s state of health and revisited at appropriate times.


Future 2017 training dates to be announced.

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Coming Soon … Lifespan Doula Association

Lifespan Doula Association [www.LifespanDoulas.com] is a professional end-of-life doula training and certification organization. We hope to launch our new website by early spring and will be providing more details about the types of ongoing supports that we are putting in place for individual end-of-life doulas as well as hospices and home healthcare agencies. Take a minute to place yourself on our Email Notification List and we will keep you posted.

Email Notification List

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Your Instructors

Merilynne RushMerilynne Rush RN, BSN has been working with families in transition for over 30 years as a homebirth midwife, labor and delivery nurse, hospice nurse, home companion and Advance Care Planning (ACP) facilitator. She owns After Death Home Care and provides consultation about home funeral and green burial to individuals, families, community groups, healthcare providers and those in the funeral and cemetery business. Merilynne has a graduate certificate in Hospice and Palliative Studies and is a Certified Respecting Choices® ACP Instructor. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Green Burial Council and previously on the boards of the National Home Funeral Alliance, Doula Connection and the Michigan Midwives Association.


Patty BrennanPatty Brennan BA has been a healthcare educator and consumer advocate for 35 years. She is a Respecting Choices® First Steps certified ACP facilitator, a DONA International certified birth and postpartum doula trainer, and a retired homebirth midwife. Patty has founded two community-based nonprofit doula programs in Michigan and is an expert in the Doula Model of Care. She is the author of The Doula Business Guide and The Doula Business Guide Workbook. Patty is the owner of Center for the Childbearing Year, Michigan’s premier doula training and childbirth education organization. She became interested in end-of-life issues after supporting two sets of parents through their final days and witnessing the remarkable similarities between the processes of birth and death.

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