Many people have a reasonable understanding of what happens after someone dies in that the body of their loved one needs to be looked after by an undertaker, and a funeral or cremation must take place. Few, however, realise that there are special people who specialise in caring for the person, in a non-medical way, in the lead-up to their passing.
End-of-life doulas are specially trained individuals who prepare people to have a good death, while making the most of the time they have left, right up until the moment they die. Keshnie Mathi, who lives in Greymont, is a doula and also the creator of The Wellness Specialist, a company that also trains others to do the sacred work.
“Doctors and medical teams are trained to treat for a cure to an illness, in death aversion and bereavement support. They are not trained to be comfortable with having difficult discussions with patients who are dying,” said Mathi. She says this often results in conversations about end of life being left until almost the last minute, giving the patient and their loved ones little time to come to terms with dying.
“There is no time to process this painful time in a healthy way and this leads to emotional trauma which so many people experience. This further entrenches the repelling of discussions about death and dying, therefore keeping the topic taboo. Using a doula does not promise a road without difficult moments, but when the time comes for someone to pass, you and those around you are as well prepared as possible through practical support and holistic care.”
End-of-life doulas form part of the medical team, but are not medically trained, for patients receiving palliative care or who are at the end of their natural life. They also do important work like preparing children for the death of someone they love and giving back some control over a process where control is largely removed.
“We also do legacy work and encourage people to fill out an advance directive, an important document which clearly states the person’s wishes for care and/ or treatment options at the end.
“We need to maximise life before the moment of death as dying is a journey but death is just a second.”
If you would like to learn more or get in touch with Keshnie Mathi, please visit www.wellnessspecialist.co.za or email her on email@example.com