In this week’s episode I am excited to welcome guest presenter Andia Cally. Together, we interview Hermione Elliott, who shares her wisdom and wealth of experience and knowledge on a subject that eventually impacts us all—death. Based in the UK, Hermione is an End of Life Doula and the Director of Living Well, Dying Well, an organisation that pioneered (and continues to offer) the only certified end of life training in the UK, since 2009.
It was a rich and very rewarding conversation. Hermione’s compassion, experience and insight around the importance of preparing for, and creating, a positive end-of-life experience was humbling.
We touched on many topics, including that:
- the role of a End of Life Doula is to create a calm, comforting, safe and loving space to help the dying person and their family let go
- death itself is brief and much of their work is around supporting the preparation for death and what comes after
- for the dying it is often important to tie up loose ends and let go of attachments to things and people
- every death is unique and often reflects how a person has lived
- end of life can be harder for the ones being left behind than the one dying
- we can rehearse for death by regularly ‘stopping to listen to the whispering of [our] soul’ rather than waiting for deathbed regrets
- death is a human, rather than a medical event, which is why hospitals and institutions don’t do death well
- the end of life is treated differently in various cultures
- death and permanent brain injury can affect people at any age, so it’s worth creating an advanced health care directive a.s.a.p
- Covid-19 has made people more aware of the importance of having loved ones with you as you die
- every person that does their training is doing a public service as they normalise and expand the conversation around death
- including children in the conversations and experiences of death will help them to face the inevitable in the future
- healing rituals, like washing the body of a loved one, or bringing them home for a few days can be very healing.
Death is a challenging topic for many of us, including me. I hope that like me, you find this interview enriching and feel reassured that it is possible to die well.
Links to training and information
Home | Living Well Dying Well – End of Life Doula Training (lwdwtraining.uk)
Home End of Life Doula UK – Death Doula in the community (eol-doula.uk)