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HomeNewsDeath Doula services coming to Kawartha Lakes

Death Doula services coming to Kawartha Lakes

KAWARTHA LAKES-Caroline Fenelius-Carpenter is a Funeral Celebrant and works with the elderly in a nursing home in Fenelon Falls, so the idea of becoming a Death Doula seemed like a perfect fit. “A Death Doula or a Soul Doula provides support for people who are dying and their families, its more emotional and spiritual support,” Fenelius Carpenter told Kawartha 411. “I am not a nurse going in but I can help in the care of someone who is dying and give emotional support for the family as well.”

Fenelius-Carpenter is one of a growing number of people in Canada becoming Death Doulas or Soul Doulas,  supporting people, physically and spiritually, throughout the process of dying. ‘I’ve always worked with palliative care since I was 18-19 year old. We are a society which is afraid to talk about death and dying it is a conversation we should all be having with each other, we are all born, we all die….circumstances may be different but the end result is the same,” Fenelius-Carpenter explains. “It is humbling and an honour to be there for someone as they are dying.  To help them, to help families through this is a difficult thing but it is important to have people who are passionate, comfortable and care.”

The Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Ontario says the practice is so new they don’t know where it would fit it. “This practice is relatively new and only recently has this practice been on our radar. In Ontario, Visiting Hospice Services and Residential Hospices do not use doulas; hospice care is provided by professional health care providers (doctors, nurses, and PSWs), as well as trained volunteers.”Janet Piercey
Communications Specialist, Hospice Palliative Care Ontario told Kawartha 411.

Fenelius-Carpenter is enrolled at the BEyond Yonder Virtual School for Community Deathcaring in Canada’s core program. It is billed as a unique shared learning opportunity for students to deepen their community deathcare practice by participating in coursework online. Students learn how to help people get back to community centred deathcaring in our families, communities and in our culture at large. “I think we need to get back to talking about it because its a normal part of lives. You could have their favorite music playing, you can all lay in bed together and watch a movie, just because somebody’s dying doesn’t mean that they still don’t have life.” she says. “You can create these beautiful memories and moments and talk about old times, go through pictures and cry and laugh, it”s ok to laugh too.”

There’s a shortage of palliative care beds locally and Fenelius-Carpenter wants to help fill the gap. “I think it’s important especially in these rural areas because I think more and more people are going to be dying at home because they choose to and because there’s not the room in the hospitals.” she explains. “They have more control at home and they feel more comfortable because they are in they are in their surroundings.”

Death doulas can help keep they dying at home, in their familiar surroundings. “We are kind of going back to what we used to do, our grandparents and even our parents generation in some cases in these rural areas they died at home and they had the wake at home and kids would come in and families would come in and they would have tea and people would go in and grieve, kids would be playing under the bed, people were very comfortable with death.” Death doulas can provide some physical care as well, such as washing and dressing a person after death.

There’s a growing belief that palliatve and hospice care means more than pain management, the spirit needs as much attention as the body and that’s where death doulas come in. “I can tell even with the palliative work I do with families at Fenelon court, it’s a gift to give your children to be comfortable, to involve them, whether it’s going to a a wake, whether it’s somebody sick you show them we can bake them something or we can cook them some food and take it over to them so they dont feel so helpless.”

It’s unclear exactly how many death doulas there are in Canada but as of 2015 there were at least a dozen. A death doula is not yet a regulated profession and there’s no certifying body.

Fenelius-Carpenter will continue her work at Fenelon Court and as as Funeral Celebrant and will be offering death doula services starting in the spring of 2019. “I want to allow families to focus on their own care as well as their loved one and be there in a supportive role to help them through this excruciating time.  I will continue working in my job at Fenelon Court as a program aide and palliative volunteer and as a funeral celebrant.  This course will help enhance my work.” she says.

She will be focusing on the rural areas.

photo credit: Vormingplus Gent-Eeklo vzw Adult Helping Senior In Hospital via photopin (license)

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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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