Death Doulas play an essential role in end-of-life care, especially as we prioritize a holistic approach to our end-of-life experiences. A Death Doula is a non-medical person who guides and supports someone at the end of their life and also their grieving loved ones. You might also hear them called end-of-life coaches, death midwives, and end-of-life guides.
They can provide a variety of offerings, so each Death Doula has their unique approach. The resources below can help you learn more about what a Death Doula is, how to become one, and how to continue growing in your role as a new or experienced Death Doula.
Jump ahead to these sections:
If you want to become a Death Doula
People become Death Doulas for different reasons. Some might feel a calling to serve clients at the end of their life, while others might want to help their community on a more personal level. It’s helpful to understand what a Death Doula can support with and go through the proper training to become one.
- What Does a Death Doula Really Do - Some basic information on what a Death Doula does would be helpful before starting your training. This article includes other information, such as basic duties and fees.
- How to Become a Death Doula - This article goes more in-depth on what it takes to be a Death Doula, from emotional and physical demands to getting the proper training and education.
- End-of-Life Planning Advice from a Death Doula - This resource provides some helpful advice, but it can also be a sneak-peek into situations Death Doulas typically handle.
- Jobs That Deal With Death, Dead Bodies or Funerals - It might help to clearly define how a Death Doula’s roles are different from others in deathcare, and this article gives an overview of other positions and what they do.
It’s helpful to find a training that works best for you. Some offer self-paced options, payment plans, and might cover a variety of topics. Here are some programs to consider. And there’s always an option to enroll in multiple programs if they all offer something different. Choose one that best fits your needs.
- Going With Grace End of Life Training - Going With Grace provides an online End of Life Training to learn the basics of becoming a Death Doula.
- A Sacred Passing Death Care Education - A Sacred Passing has a variety of training opportunities, including a two-level Death Doula/Death Companion training.
- Nine Keys Death Midwifery Apprenticeship - This training was created by Narinder Bazen, a Death Midwife, Home Funeral Educator, and Holistic Death Care Activist.
Exploring your own mortality
If you’re considering becoming a Death Doula, it might also be helpful to understand your own relationship with death first. It isn’t surprising that some Death Doulas have their own Death Doula! The resources below include information and courses to guide you on your end-of-life planning journey and explore your own mortality.
- Mortal - Explore your relationship with death through this 9-week self study course created by Caitlin Doughty and Alua Arthur.
- Grace in Dying - If meditating works for you, Going With Grace created this online course as “a guided meditation series contemplating your body’s inevitable end.”
- The Art of Dying - Going With Grace provides an online self-paced course to explore your relationship with death.
- End of Life Planning Made Simple - Sometimes, it helps to explore our connection to death through our own end-of-life planning. This course created by Going With Grace walks you through different aspects of your end-of-life plan, and one day you can help others do the same.
- End-of-Life Planning Checklist - As you’re working through your own end-of-life plan, a simple checklist might be helpful to make sure you don’t forget any important documents or things to consider.
- Books About Death, Dying & Accepting the Inevitable - Exploring our mortality is an ongoing process, so reading books about death and dying could provide a healthy pace to reflect and learn more about ourselves.
If you’re already a Death Doula
The role of a Death Doula is constantly growing, especially as trends gain popularity. It’s helpful to stay updated so you have a better understanding of what your community needs. We’ve included some resources below to support you when working with clients, help continue your growth as a Death Doula, and build your network to connect with others in deathcare.
Expanding your offerings
There’s so much a Death Doula can do, from helping you explore your end-of-life options to preparing your healthcare documents to providing grief support. Below are some resources to help you expand your services or offerings. They might help as a place to start when you consider how you would like to help your community.
These resources can provide some guidance on starting the conversation about death and facilitating discussions around it.
- Tips for Talking to Kids About Death - The challenging task of talking to kids about death might come up in your work, or maybe you’re supporting parents who are having the conversation. This resource has some tips for talking to children of different ages and how they understand death.
- Discussion Questions About Death - If you're meeting with a client and need a place to start the end-of-life planning conversation, this list of discussion questions could help.
- What Does Becoming 'Death Positive' Mean? - As a Death Doula, you might be considered part of the “Death Positive Movement,” so understanding what that means could help, especially when applying it to your approach when communicating with clients.
- The Death Deck - If adding play to your client’s death explorations helps them feel more comfortable, then this card game might be a fun addition!
- The Conversation Project - You can find many helpful guides on starting the conversations around death. It could be something to review to gather tips or a useful resource to pass to clients.
Some people might find preparing legal documents intimidating, but we included resources to make the process as easy as possible. You can provide your client with an easy starting point while also ensuring they don’t feel overwhelmed by all the documents.
- Estate Planning Checklist - With so much to consider during estate planning, a checklist might help. This article lists ten items to consider and is a great place to start.
- Online Will Makers Compared - Maybe your clients are looking for tools to create their own will. Luckily, we compared some online will makers and summarized the information in this article.
- Types of Advance Directives Explained - This could be a helpful resource to refer to or pass to your clients for a clear list of four types of Advance Directives.
- Advance Directive Forms by US State - When your clients are ready to create their Advance Directive, whether on their own or with your support, we provide forms specific to each state.
- What is a Durable Financial Power of Attorney? - Having a plan for their finances might be something on your client’s priority list. This article explains what a Durable Financial Power of Attorney is and how to start one.
Sometimes, your clients might need support with staying organized. We included some resources below with tips to guide them to tidy up their digital lives and personal belongings.
- How to Find What Websites You Have Accounts With - A helpful place to start getting your digital life organized could be making a list of all your accounts. You can find some helpful steps in this article.
- Password Manager Tools to Make Your Digital Life Easier - It can be challenging to keep track of all our online accounts, but these password manager tools are suggestions that could make your client’s life much easier.
- Downsizing Checklist for Seniors or Retirees - Maybe you’re helping someone transition to the next stage of their life, whether it’s retirement or simply moving. Here are some tips to make that process more straightforward and ensure they don’t forget anything.
- What Should You Do With a Deceased Loved One's Clothes? - Some clients might need support to sort through their deceased loved one’s belongings. This could be a very emotional time for them, but this article provides plenty of options on what to do.
- Swedish Death Cleaning Explained - You can suggest your client include tidying and organizing into their end-of-life planning, and there’s a name for that! We gathered some tips to get started so that your home isn’t overflowing with belongings at the end.
Part of your services might include supporting someone close to death. It can be a very emotional and intimate moment for both the dying person and their loved ones, so the resources below provide some tips to make sure you come prepared.
- What’s a Death Doula Bag? - This article lists some helpful items to bring along when visiting someone close to death. Gathering everything in one bag helps to ensure you don’t forget anything, and your bag is always ready to go.
- At the Bedside: Inside a Death Doula’s Toolkit - This webinar hosted by Alua Arthur of Going With Grace can teach you all about a death doula bag and what major items you should include.
- What to Say to Someone Who Is Dying - As a Death Doula, your client might need some support and maybe even some affirmations, so here are tips on what to say to someone who is dying.
Death Doulas can play a vital role in helping clients explore options and decide what works best for them. Here are some resources to help as you’re discussing what type of funeral your clients envision for themselves or a loved one.
- Online Funeral Planning Guide - A challenging part of end-of-life planning could be working through all your options. It feels like there are endless ways to plan a funeral, but this guide could be helpful to walk through.
- Alternative Funeral Services to Consider - Maybe your client is interested in exploring options beyond the traditional funeral. This article has some great ideas to share with them.
- Cremation vs. Burial: Pros, Cons & Cost of Each - It might be helpful to consider the differences between cremations and burial. This resource provides a breakdown to compare the two options.
- Burial & Cremation Alternatives - If your client or their loved one is still interested in a burial or cremation but wants to learn about other options, this resource lists some alternatives and companies that provide those services.
- Meaningful Things to Do With Cremation Ashes - Many people might prefer to keep their loved ones in an urn, but there are other alternatives to choose from, including a variety of urn types and ideas for scattering ashes.
Being a Death Doula requires a lot of empathy and the ability to hold space for others. We gathered some resources below that can help provide tips for your clients to support their healing process. Every person grieves differently, so everyone has different needs. It might be helpful to have a variety of tools to offer.
- How to Practice Self-Care While Grieving - This article includes many tips to make sure your client takes care of themselves during a difficult and emotional time. Sharing some of these ideas with them could support them through their healing process.
- Legacy Project Ideas for Every Age Group - Working on a creative legacy project could help people cherish their loved one’s memory or find a way to keep it present. This article also includes legacy project ideas for those still alive and preparing to preserve their legacy.
- Expand Your Toolbox: Intro to Holistic Modalities in End of Life Care - This online training could provide you with more tools to use. To support your clients, you could learn more about adding offerings, such as breath work and essential oils.
- Grief Resources from Alica Forneret - This website includes many helpful grief resources created by Alica Forneret, an educator, speaker, and consultant focusing on grief and grieving.
So much around deathcare is expanding and evolving, and it’s helpful to be aware of those changes. We’ve gathered some resources below as a refresher or a starting place to continue learning about a new topic. It’s also a good idea to review topics you might have learned a while back during your first Death Doula courses!
- Shifting Deathcare: Tools for a New Paradigm - This online course created by leaders in the death community provides training on better supporting those you work with and reflecting on your approach through the lens of privilege, identity, and bias.
- Understanding Grief - There are many types of grief, and everyone experiences them differently. This article provides general information on grief and how people might experience it mentally, emotionally, and physically.
- Advance Care Planning Terms - There’s a good chance these terms will pop up during conversations with your clients, but we’ve gathered a few here that you can always reference.
- Estate and End-of-Life Planning Books - There’s so much to estate planning and end-of-life planning, so each book on this list could teach you something new.
- Books About Funeral Homes + Mortuaries - This resource includes a variety of books on death and funeral homes, including both fiction and non-fiction options. Keeping one of these on your bookshelf is a helpful reminder to stay curious and continue learning.
- Digital Afterlife Explained - This is an important topic as more of our lives exist in the digital world. Understanding how this impacts your role as a Death Doula could be helpful.
- Podcasts About Death, Grief & End of Life - Here are some podcasts to check out when you need a break from reading books about death and when listening to someone talk about it could be just as impactful.
- Resources from The Order of the Good Death - There are a variety of articles to choose from on The Order of the Good Death’s website. They are also part of the Death Positive Movement, so you might be able to find a variety of topics under their resources.
- The Collective for Radical Death Studies - According to their website, they are leaders in the death community “who view death work as synonymous with anti-racism work, synonymous with actively dismantling oppression, and as a way to validate cultural and social life among marginalized groups.”
Building your network
Death isn’t an easy topic to talk about, and sometimes it helps to be a part of safe spaces for support. More and more online circles and communities are forming to give Death Doulas a place to ask questions, get advice, and learn from others. Connecting with other Death Doulas can also be helpful when you need motivation that you’re on the right path. Death Doulas are a part of such meaningful and important moments of people’s lives, so the work you do can be celebrated together.
- Death Doula Den - This is an online community for Death Doulas and community healers hosted by Going With Grace. They also bring in some guest speakers, so there are opportunities to network and continue learning.
- Cake's Recommended Death Doulas - Here are some Death Doulas and ways to contact them so you can start connecting. If you’re interested in meeting up in person, you can search for Death Doulas within your region.
- Going With Grace Death Doula Directory - This directory includes Death Doulas from throughout the U.S. and around the world.
- National End-of-Life Doula Alliance (NEDA) - You can join their membership and there’s also an option to earn a proficiency badge. They provide a directory of Death Doulas in their network, so it’s easy to find others and build connections.
- International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA) - In addition to providing training programs, you can also become an INELDA member. It might be a great opportunity to find other Death Doulas through their directory or events.
- Events hosted by Oceana Sawyer - As an End of Life Doula, Oceana Sawyer provides online events, including mixers for People of the Global Majority (PGM) and death cafes.
- What Really Happens at a Death Cafe? - Another helpful place to network and connect with other Death Doulas is at death cafes. You have the opportunity to either host one yourself or attend others. This article provides some information on what happens at a death café and how to find one.