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What is an end-of-life doula?

There's often someone standing by to assist when you're born, so why shouldn't there be someone there to assist you when you die?

That's the concept behind the services of an end-of-life doula or midwife. Thanks to the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act, this state is one of the few that allow terminally ill adults who meet certain requirements to choose the hour of their own death.

An end-of-life doula serves as an assistant to the dying individual -- and sometimes his or her family members -- before death, during the process of death and after the deceased has passed. The service of an end-of-life doula generally include:

  • Acting as a companion to the dying person, especially when family members can't always be there or can't handle the conversations the dying person wants to have about the past, his or her illness or death itself.
  • Comforting the dying person as he or she comes to terms with dying and the decision to terminate his or her own life.
  • Assisting the dying individual and his or her family members as they get their final plans in order, make arrangements for the death to occur and organize any last requests.
  • Seeing to the comfort of the dying person while he or she goes through the legal process required to terminate his or her own life.
  • Helping family members accept their loved one's decision to terminate their own life due to their illness.

More Americans than ever are embracing the idea of a death with dignity when they know their condition is terminal. As such, end-of-life doulas may become a much more common service sought out by the dying and their families.

Keep in mind that Colorado law is very specific on the requirements to seek aid-in-dying medication. If you are considering this option or know someone who is, an attorney can often help make certain that your all-important final plans are in place and that the formal request for medication meets all legal requirements.

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