Though you may have never heard of them, soul midwives play a vital role in the facilitation of death positivity and preparedness. You may be thinking, “surely no one can ever be prepared for death.” While this may be true to you, providing comfort, care, and emotional and spiritual support in the face of death is what soul midwives are meant for.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What’s a Soul Midwife?
- What Are a Soul Midwife’s Responsibilities?
- How Do You Become a Soul Midwife?
We’ll get into further specifics about soul midwives and how they differ from death doulas below.
What’s a Soul Midwife?
While death and the individual responsibilities of soul midwifery can get rather complex, the central goal is simple.
A soul midwife helps ensure that death is a dignified and peaceful experience for any dying person in their care. Soul midwives hold every dying person in the highest regard, as if they are the most important person in the world.
Can anyone become a soul midwife?
You may be wondering, can anyone become a soul midwife? Is the role reserved for those in certain professions? The answer here is simple: anyone can become a soul midwife if they have the heart to provide love, support, and comfort to someone facing the end of life. It’s about dealing delicately with end-of-life questions as well.
You may wonder if you need medical training to become a soul midwife. The answer is no, support from soul midwives is non-medical in nature, but it’s common for those in the medical field or related professions to become trained as soul midwives. We discuss how to become trained in further detail below.
Do you have to be spiritual or religious?
Another key question on your mind about soul midwifery might be about the aspect of spirituality or religion. Even for spiritual or religious people, death can still be a scary, confusing, and upsetting time — if not more so than non-spiritual people.
The answer is no, you don’t have to be religious to become a soul midwife. Soul midwives don’t follow any particular faith or religion. Instead, they provide companionship on a deep and consistent level.
Is there a difference between a midwife and a death doula?
Perhaps you’ve heard of death doulas and their support to people facing the end of life, including an individual’s family. While soul midwives likely lend some support to a dying person’s family, the focus remains on that person.
Soul midwives choose to identify themselves with this different terminology on purpose. Sometimes, they describe themselves as “end-of-life companions.” Death doulas may also be called end-of-life coaches, end-of-life guides, and death midwives.
Since training and a level of expertise is required for both roles, soul midwives and death doulas may charge a fee for their services. However, some soul midwives or death doulas may serve on a volunteer basis. While there is one main school for soul midwifery, there are a variety of online death doula training programs to choose from.
What Are a Soul Midwife’s Responsibilities?
The main responsibility of soul midwives involves doing whatever necessary to provide a good death to anyone in their care. While the details of a good death will vary case-by-case, some overarching principles that separate a good death from a bad death.
A good death, in brief, can be described as:
- Being able to have preferences as well as control and make decisions related to end-of-life planning
- Experiencing death and the events leading up to death as comfortably and pain-free as possible
- Both internal and external peace when it comes to death, which may involve religion or spirituality
- Having emotional well-being and a feeling of support, which may include the mending and healing of relationships with family or loved ones
- Being prepared as possible for death rather than being exclusively full of fear
None of these bullets are achieved easily or all at once. It will likely be a gradual process with ups and downs, likely related to the individual’s health, upbringing, home, and family.
Being an effective soul midwife comes with a significant commitment, so it requires some formal training. And, they have to be secure in their own positivity toward both life and death.
A soul midwife’s work with any individual can begin as early as when a diagnosis is received. This work continues until this person passes away. In the meantime, soul midwives provide whatever support necessary to help the dying person live life as fully as they can. This will likely involve gradually achieving the terms of a “good death” described above.
While the focus remains on the individual facing death, soul midwives also work to transform collective experiences of dying (and living well in the meantime) within the greater community. Soul midwives can also work in a variety of settings, including in a dying person’s home, hospice, or a hospital.
Especially today, it’s important to be there for the dying person through whatever means, so this may also involve digital or phone support.
How Do You Become a Soul Midwife?
We’ve discussed the main secret to becoming a soul midwife — which isn’t really a secret at all — anyone can become one! But, there’s still some work to be done. And, soul midwifery training should not be taken lightly. Serving with love and care as a reliable, dedicated guide as someone passes away is no small feat. So, how do you actually become a soul midwife?
The best way to become a soul midwife is through the official Soul Midwives School. There are no special prerequisites or qualifications required. But, the school mentions that you need “dedication, compassion, and excellent listening skills to enroll.”
Though this program began in the UK more than 20 years ago by the founder, Felicity Warner, distance-learning options are available for students worldwide.
Methods taught by this award-winning school are in use by the National Health Service in England as well as various hospices and care facilities. Many students also complete the program — which is separated into a few different sections — simply to learn a new and valuable skill.
Soul midwife training can be completed live online via Zoom or at a student’s own pace. Different sections of the course include the introductory course, level one, level two, a training course to share your skills with your community, and a sacred oils course.
Though the courses and training as a whole can be completed in a various ways and for different reasons, the goal of the Soul Midwives school is to inspire and prepare others to care for the dying. This is achieved through reflective learning and a warm and compassionate teaching approach.
According to the Soul Midwives School website, the school is currently closed. However, the site still recommends interested students use provided resources to study at home.
Soul Midwives: End-of-Life Companions
Death doula, soul midwife, or end-of-life companion — whatever term you choose, these individuals all serve important roles.
Though caring for someone at the end of their life is rather heavy, it’s about supporting them with genuine love and care. Think about how you’d want others to be there for you when you need them the most. How can you best serve others in this same way?
Of course, becoming more death positive and preparing for death isn’t something anyone should try to do alone. Cake has plenty of resources and serves as a free end-of-life planning tool. You may also be interested in end-of-life planning advice from a death doula.
If you're looking to learn more about spirituality and the afterlife, read our guide on the best spiritual books for beginners.