End-of-life doulas growing in popularity

Death doulas began seeing a rise in popularity over the past few years as more organizations...
Death doulas began seeing a rise in popularity over the past few years as more organizations started offering training.(None)
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 3:35 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - You’ve probably heard about a birth doula who provides emotional and physical support during pregnancy and after childbirth. But what about end-of-life doulas?

The death doula movement is relatively new with private certification programs growing across the country. The goal of the profession is to normalize the experience of losing a loved one in the western world.

Latashia Zadina lost her husband, Michael, five months ago from colon cancer. He was 45 years old.

“We had his specific music playing, we had the room set up exactly the way he wanted, family and friends were there, it was a very, very, beautiful experience,” Zadina said.

She says his passing was peaceful thanks, in part, to the support of a doula.

“Maybe about three months before he passed he became very interested in this end-of-life doula, basically to have someone gather the family together, educate us,” she said.

Death doulas are not licensed or regulated. They often complement hospice care but are not generally covered by private insurance companies.

“We’re non-medical, and we are there to support the dying’s family, their spouse, their children, their parents, or any other relative that is involved in the process,” Marianna Phoenix, an end-of-life doula said.

Phoenix has supported more than 30 families throughout the years, including Zadina’s.

“The majority of the population not only in the states but worldwide have a fear of dying, have a fear of death, and they just don’t want to broach the subject,” Phoenix said.

She believes the profession is growing in popularity because of public awareness.

“We have lifetimes, and so we need to really understand the sanctity of the beginning such as a birth doula, at the end with the death doula, and it’s a common dominator that we all have, no one makes it out alive,” she said.

For Zadina, it brought perspective to her family.

“We had never had the conversation with the children, we’d say dad has cancer but no one ever came out and said dad was dying, so Marianne was actually the first person that sat down with the kids, she read one of her beautiful books to the kids and explained lifetimes to the kids,” Zadina said.

According to the International End of Life Doula Association, there are 35 people who are certified in Nevada.