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When people face the end stage of a terminal illness they often feel alone, even when surrounded by family and friends. In quiet moments they wonder if their life has had any meaning. All of this as they struggle with worsening physical symptoms, periods of emotional turmoil, anxiety about how the actual dying process will unfold, and worries about how their loved ones will cope after they die.

Family of the dying suffers in their own ways. The months or years of caregiving result in physical and emotional exhaustion. Their world narrows to the basic acts of providing medication and assisting with the tasks of daily life. In their moments of reflection they can become overwhelmed with sadness, longing, and fear. As the last days arrive family often feel ill prepared.

Addressing all of these needs of the dying and their families takes intense and continuous guidance and support. Hospices, hospitals, communities, and other settings where people die don’t have the organizational structure or the resources to provide that kind of guidance and support. An End of Life Doula Program not only fills this gap in services, it also introduces best practices that offer the dying deeper meaning and provides greater comfort to family.

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The End of Life Doula Program consists of three phases of activity that begins as early as possible in the end stage of an illness and continues through the early grief period.

Phase 1:
Summing Up and Planning

  • Exploring the meaning of the dying person’s life
  • Initiating legacy projects
  • Assisting with unfinished business
  • Creating visualizations
  • Deciding on how the space will look and feel
  • Designing rituals
  • Developing a vigil plan

Phase 2:
Conducting Vigil

  • Assuring the last days happen as planned
  • Using touch and holding to bring comfort
  • Providing family with respite
  • Making sure the patient doesn’t die alone
  • Informing about signs & symptoms
  • Leading guided visualizations and rituals
  • Providing emotional support

Phase 3:
Reprocessing & Early Grief

  • Retelling the dying story in detail
  • Uncovering traumatic moments to reframe them
  • Giving back to family beautiful moments
  • Explaining the journey through grief
  • Providing emotional & spiritual support
  • Bring completion to the doula involvement

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  • Greater emotional support & interaction
  • Increased sense of control
  • Better understanding of signs & symptoms
  • Less anxiety, depression, & suffering
  • Deeper sense of purpose in last days
  • Easier time with grief
  • Having the chance to be truly heard


  • Higher patient & family satisfaction
  • Improved community recognition
  • More referrals
  • Better overall quality of service
  • Greater care of the dying
  • Enhanced community interconnections
  • Rewards of service

Bring INELDA to Your Organization or Community

INELDA’S end of life program can help you enrich the dying experience of the people you serve and increase patient and family satisfaction.

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