My calling to become an End-of-life Doula began with the passing of my dearly loved father. During his final weeks, I found myself constantly troubled by questions...
I will admit I felt very much in the dark, alone, and inadequately prepared. And although I was at my father's side as much as physically possible during those final weeks, doing my very best for him, I found myself constantly wanting (and needing) some kind soul to step in and “make things better”.
My father’s medical/care staff were, thankfully, sufficient. However, like many medical/care personnel, they were often busy or rushed, juggling the needs of multiple patients. When Hospice became involved, they felt like a Godsend to me: They treated my father with kindness, oversaw his changing medication needs, and advocated for his comfort. But Hospice staff could only do so much, too; they had limited time to spend with each client. This meant there were long stretches where I was on my own with my father—not only dealing with the heartbreak of witnessing his final stages of life, but struggling internally with so many questions, doubts, and worries.
After my father’s passing, and after allowing myself time to grieve, I began to reflect on his final days. It was then that I realized the full extent of just how emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing those last few weeks were. It felt as though, in addition to the great loss of my father, I had been nearly traumatized by the pressures of trying to oversee his final weeks. In retrospect, his comfort had been my greatest worry and concern. And clearly, I had not had the additional help and support that my father and I so very much needed. I found that there was a huge gap between the services and assistance available and what was actually needed, both for patients nearing the end of life and for their families. I know my father would have greatly benefited by having someone at his side who was specially trained to give him the most comfort and peace possible as he transitioned from this world. I also know that, as his devoted but exhausted daughter, having that additional support would have been an immense relief to me personally.
Prior to caring for my father, I also cared for my maternal grandmother in my home. I was in my early 30's at the time, and was a single mother of two. My grandmother suffered from congestive heart failure, and had expressed not wanting to go to a care facility. We'd shared a very close relationship, so bringing her to live with me was the only option that felt right.
Many years later my paternal grandfather also came to live with me. He suffered with dementia and general physical weakness, and needed round-the-clock care and assitance. (He lived to be 95!)
As you can see, my experience in helping and caring for others dates quite a way back. But the one common thread in each of the roles I played as a caretaker for my loved ones was this: There were many times I needed help—but that help was nowhere to be found.
Becoming a professional End-of-life Doula has allowed me to offer others the additional support that I wish my father, my grandparents, and I had received. Having been there myself, I know what families are going through. Now, I can surround care recipients in a peaceful and supportive environment, helping with their non-medical needs and easing their transition to the hereafter. I can also offer relief, support, and guidance to the immediate family members and caretakers. To me, doing this work is a great honor. I understand the incredible value of assisting care recipients and their families as the end of life draws near. My personal approach is one of compassion. My professional approach is to serve with dignity and respect.
In preparation for my work as an EOLD, I successfully completed an End-of-life Doula course and earned my certification. This education provided me with a wealth of knowledge and thoroughly covered the many involved aspects of the EOLD practice.
In addition, I trained with Hospice of NW Ohio for the volunteer program, and I continue to actively serve as a Hospice volunteer. I consider this training and exposure an invaluable asset to my work as an EOLD, as it not only furthered my education in the field, but afforded me significant hands-on experience in providing assistance to care recipients and their families.
Furthermore, I continually research and extend my professional education in the the field, particularly through EOLD organizations and networks. My aim is to ensure I am fully qualified to abundantly meet the needs of my care recipients, their loved ones and caretakers.
*A portfolio of certifications and qualifications is provided during initial consultations.
In addition to her services as a Hospice volunteer, Christi independently volunteers her time at local care facilities, offering comfort and companionship to patients.
TB tested, 2020 (negative)