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Natural Awakenings Fairfield & Southern Litchfield Counties

Ensuring More Positive End-of-Life Experiences

Oct 30, 2021 09:00PM ● By Joan Law and Heather Pierce
Have you talked about death with your loved ones? It’s not a comfortable topic, so many people avoid even thinking about it until they’re seriously ill.

By that point, families are struggling with emotions let alone decision making and planning. So what resources are available to help families during this difficult time? Other than one’s own network of family and friends, it usually comes down to the particular health care system the patient is using.

According to a 2013 article on end-of-life care in Medical News Today, “it appears that palliative care for elderly patients is often occurring only as an afterthought, rather than a properly planned part of patient care in which doctors, providers, patients and their family sit down and discuss options.”

In practical terms, this means that patients can receive painful, unnecessary procedures even in the last few days of life. It can also mean passing in the intensive care unit (ICU), rather than at home or in hospice.

How do you want to spend your last days? It warrants some thought and pre-planning, which is where an end-of-life doula (EOLD) can come into the story. EOLDs are not medically trained. However, they can help ensure that that family is aware of and understands all their options. They can also help get all the family decision-makers on the same page.

When EOLDs are engaged sooner in the course of illness, there are many additional services they can offer.

Professional Help for Dying Well
EOLD is a relatively new field that has emerged to fill the gaps in a society where we’re not typically very good at pre-planning our death experience. EOLDs do not provide any medical services and therefore aren’t covered by insurance at this time.

Most EOLDs offer emotional support to both the ill person and their immediate family members. Most offer companionship to the dying and respite to the family care-givers. Many can describe what to expect, physically, during the dying process.

Some EOLDs use the Five Wishes document to help a patient plan the end. In addition to legal matters like designating power of attorney, the document provides prompts, such as, “Would you want music playing or a foot massage at the end?” It addresses the little—yet significant—things that may not be thought of otherwise.

Some EOLDs can help the dying reflect on the meaning of their life or honor their story by helping with a legacy project to be left for their family. Examples include scrapbooks, writings, recordings and more.

Choosing An End of Life Doula
Services can vary from one EOLD practitioner to another, so that is something to keep in mind. Some EOLDs are former hospice or nursing home workers but many also choose to be trained and certified in EOLD as well. There are several organizations that offer certification programs as well as directories of certified EOLDs. Learn more by visiting websites from The Conscious Dying Institute (, National End-of-Life Doula Alliance ( or International End of Life Doula Association ( 

Joan Law is a certified EOLD, offering 
services through her business Feng Shui Joan’s Way, which also provides decluttering, downsizing and real estate staging. Connect at 203-260-7770 or See ad, page 14.

Heather Pierce is a freelance writer who lives in Newtown with her husband and two elderly kitties. Contact her through LinkedIn.

Feng Shui Joans Way - 151 Flagler Ave Stratford CT

Feng Shui Joan's Way - 151 Flagler Ave, Stratford, CT

Joan has over 20 years of experience creating environments that support her client’s life goals. Offering Feng Shui, clutter clearing and home staging services, bringing together the know... Read More »