Frequently Asked Questions

About End-of-Life Specialists

Is it “death doula” or “death midwife” or “end-of-life midwife” or “end-of-life doula…?!”

All are appropriate and interchangeable. (Let’s call us end-of-life doulas to make things easier on this FAQ.)

Why haven’t I heard about end-of-life doula’s before?

The movement in America is fairly new and gaining momentum.

How are the services of an end-of-life doula different than the services offered by most hospices?

Hospice manages a patient's medical care and may also instruct the family on home patient care. In-home hospice care is limited to a certain number of days and hours a week. Hospice may also supply information about social service resources and some spiritual or religious support. An end-of-life doula is a nurturing presence who attends the dying as requested by the client and his or her family. The doula offers support, advocacy, focus, meaning, emotional grounding, respite opportunities for caretakers, and much more.  

If I hire an end-of-life doula do I still need hospice services?

Yes. Hospice offers medical treatment and physical care for the dying. End-of-life doulas do NOT. The two professions are unique and when working in conjunction, patients receive a broad spectrum of imperative care.

When in the dying process should an end-of-life doula be called?

The sooner the better! We can help in many meaningful ways from diagnosis right on through the process.

Can an end-of-life doula take over so a family or friend who is acting as a caretaker can have a break?

Yes. We provide respite care so you can run errands, go to religious services–even get a nap!

Do end-of-life doulas all do the same thing?

No. While most end-of-life doulas comfort and support the dying, many have specialties such as pain or anxiety reduction through reiki or guided meditation, the creation of celebrations and rituals commemorating life or death, etc.

How does one become trained as an end-of-life doula?

There are several reputable organizations that provide end-of-life doula training. Some of those recognized by the Collaborative are: the International End-of-Life Doula Alliance (INELDA), the Conscious Dying Institute (CDI), Doulagivers, Going with Grace, the University of Vermont, Quality of Life Care, and Lifespan Doulas.

Is there one accepted/recognized certification, license, or accreditation for end-of-life doulas?

At this time, no. There is no overseeing national, regional, or state governing body for end-of-life doulas and therefore the profession is currently unregulated. In other words, anyone can call themselves an end-of-life doula. All members of this collaborative have received formal training and have hands-on experience in the field. 

What does an end-of-life doula charge? Can somebody make a living as an end-of-life doula?

Doulas set their own fee schedule. Those in this collaborative charge between $50 and $80 an hour and sometimes offer packages of services. It is possible to make a living as a doula. The most successful are good at marketing their services and many rely on word-of-mouth to find clients.

Do end-of-life doulas carry their own insurance?

It is highly advisable for doulas who work outside of established organizations such as hospices to carry insurance. All doulas in this Collaborative carry their own liability insurance for working in this profession.

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