A Problem with Death Doula Training

13 thoughts on “A Problem with Death Doula Training”

  1. As a trained Palliative Social Worker, with many years of experience, I can’t agree with you more. The knowledge that I have obtained with over 10 years of experience cannot be taught in 15 hours. I’ve worked inpatient, outpatient and currently in a large teaching hospital…. I took a course recently, young hipsters wanting “to be with those dying!” My intuition belly says, these are all the wrong reasons, this is about you….

    1. Lol …young hipsters! Yes, JJ, I attended a home funeral providers zoom where all the attendees were under the age of 35. Bring back the elder teachers! Thanks for the read and comment.

  2. I have completed a course of training to be an end of life doula. Indeed upon completion I was assured that I was qualified to help patients and their loved ones through a difficult time. However at the same time I was offered a second course in what might be called business administration to allow me to profit from my endeavors.
    Upon reflection I realized that I was in no way qualified. Even though I had years of experience working with the dying in my role and in hospital pharmacist on a palliative care service nothing in the course made me feel skilled or confident enough to take on this important task. The “syllabus” was glib and superficial. I met no dying patients. I met none of the loved ones experiencing a loss.

    1. Tom—It’s always nice to know when one is not alone in their perspective, especially when it is based on experience…like ours. I really like your last statement. Couldn’t agree more. Thank you for all the work you do and thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. YES to every word of this. Yes. So clear, so compassionately written. Thanks for your insight that people who have recently experienced the mystery, at the bedside of someone they love who has died, are often spurred to this work, yes… but woefully unprepared by these quick trainings. I’m so glad you share this wisdom.

  4. It’s always nice to know when one is not alone in their perspective, especially when it is based on experience…like ours. I really like your last statement. Couldn’t agree more. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  5. It’s about life, death… it is the journey in-between. How we learn, share and grow as human beings and develop community. Learning, education and how we teach… is what we currently do a process or an experience? We learn from experience, mentoring and relationship with those who experienced first… real learning, real education through real life. This is a great example!

  6. Thank you Delta for highlighting a large gap in training. Online programs can only work with hands on clinical hours, good preceptorships, and plenty of mentoring. Without that the soul of the profession is lost.

    1. So true, Leah! If you know, you know….and they don’t know. Thank you for reading and leaving a comment. Your support is invaluable!

      1. I did, in fact, sit as the bedside of a loved one as they breathed their last. And the experience did, in fact, leave me with a desire to do this sort of work. I’ve mulled over pursuing a career as an end-of-life doula for months but have hesitated for many of the reasons here. I know there’s a need for this work in my community. What is a person like me to do? What are the next steps so I can be 1. Well-prepared and 2. Taken seriously? Where do I go to find a seasoned death worker? Would a funeral director be sufficient if they can spare their time?

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with this article, but find most of the comments to be distasteful. I do agree that most of the certification programs do not come even close to providing the experience needed to be ready for end of life care, but I think the people touting their tenure and experience have over looked the fact that they had to start somewhere, too. The reason I think it’s possible to start as a death doula (and not in, say, hospice or palliative care) is that it requires little to no actual medical knowledge or background, and the skills needed can be learned through various different avenues of life, whether those avenues come by the way of careers or experience. I do agree that a doula apprenticeship program would be incredibly ideal, but where is one supposed to find a program like this, and how would you even start one? If you’re a death doula or EOL care provider and are unhappy with the way modern doulas are coming onto the scene, offer and apprenticeship program, and if you know of one, let me know! I’d love to learn how to be a death doula by means of hands-on experience, but the way I see it now, that does not seem like a program on offer. The certification route, unfortunately, seems like the most viable option to people in this day in age.

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