Spring 2021 - Doula Member Spotlight
From English teacher to Death Doula
In 2015, Vanessa Johnston was looking for a new career. Her passion for teaching high school English had waned, and she wanted a different way to be of useful service in the world. Around this time she was fortunate enough to visit China and Japan with her family and was moved by the many temples and statues of Guanyin or Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion.
It was there she decided to release her worries and concerns about the direction her life might go and trust that a unique path for her would emerge.
Three months later Vanessa accepted a job as an “non-medical assistant” for a man who had ALS. By 2017, this man would become her first client after she completed training with the International End-of-Life Doula Association (INELDA). As a former literature teacher turned death doula, Vanessa encourages clients to engage in life review as a way to come to terms with their own stories. When we are able to gain an empathetic perspective on our own lives, then one may become empowered during the natural process of dying. By allowing our loved ones to participate in vigil and ritual during this time, we can allow them to experience grief and bereavement in a healthier way.
CEOLC Vice President and
The Launch of Denver EOL Doula
In 2018, Vanessa formed her own company called Denver EOL Doula. She now spends her time as an End-of-Life Doula, a death educator, and an advocate for all the new options in the field of death care. She loves to tell others about green burials, water cremation, and natural organic reduction. She also hosts the monthly Littleton Death Cafe and facilitates conversations about what it means to be mortal. However, her true calling lies in sitting bedside with those who are dying so that she may be a compassionate companion in the final weeks, days, and hours. She considers it an honor to sit vigil with loved ones so that the sacred act of final transition can happen in peace for all.
Vanessa's website and social media:
Podcast episode: Estate Planning and Elder Law Hour with Skip Reynolds- 1430AM
Presentation: Colorado Guardianship Association 11.10.20 "Embracing Life and Honoring Death with End-of-Life Doulas"
Vanessa in print:
Book: Author of, "Stepping Into your Sovereignty: Be the Queen of Your Own Happiness," in Inspirations: 101 Uplifting Stories for Daily Happiness, published by As You Wish Publishing, edited by Kyra Schaefer.
"We're all just walking each other home." ~Ram Dass
CEOLC EOL Doula Member Spotlight
Affiliate Spotlight - Skipton Law, LLC
Our firm’s mission is to provide personal and professional service to our clients, and to excel in all areas of estate planning and elder law. We constantly strive to maintain a high level of personal service while keeping costs reasonable through effective management and consultations. Our firm realizes that clients are entrusting us with the matters that are most important to them.
Affiliate Spotlight - Be A Tree Cremation
Like many in this work, Emily Nelson stumbled into death care before it developed into a deeper calling. She was exposed to death early and often in her younger years, starting with the loss of her birth mother as a small child, followed by grandparents, and then the loss of a close friend to war during college.
Affiliate Spotlight - Sustainable Funeral
We are proud to shine the spotlight on our friend and affiliate member, Ed Gazdova of Sustainable Funeral. His patent-pending Alkaline Hydrolysis 2.0 and New Life Chamber offer an ecologically sound and sustainable end-of-life option. Find out more about Sustainable Funeral’s aqua cremation method in this month’s Affiliate Member Spotlight.
Affiliate Spotlight - Laura Walker, Writer
As a freelance writer, editor, website designer, and business marketing and communications consultant, specializing in strategy planning and writing, Laura Walker is also a flexible, quick learner and teacher who can provide many other skills and talents. She is proud to be the designer of the CEOLC website!