The 12 Unique Skills of Death Doulas and How they can Help if you are Considering Hiring one.

A hiker walking along a track high up on a misty mountain. used in the article The 12 Unique Skills of Death Doulas
Passing through time.

A death doula is (among a lot of other things), a companion and advocate for the dying and an educator for the family through the process of death. Let’s Discover the 12 Unique skills of death doulas, and what to look for when choosing an end-of-life caregiver for yourself or a loved one.

Disclosure:- This article has an affiliate link to IAP career college, and should you purchase something from a link I may receive a small payment at no cost to you. I am not an employee of any company mentioned and all opinions expressed here are mine and are not representative of any company.

The 12 Unique Skills of Death Doulas:

  1. Death doulas, although many are qualified nurses, or come from other allied health fields. Phycologists, nursing assistants, and other medical practitioners, as well as people from non-medical related fields, there is no requirement for a death doula to be qualified (at the moment). A person with a lot of life experience in various fields for example, can become a death doula without having any prior experience.
  2. They are Advocates for their clients and provide non-medical support to the dying and their families, helping them navigate healthcare or insurance systems and ensure that their clients wishes are respected.
  3. Some are Trained to help their patients plan out their deaths by talking with them about their wishes, and how they would like to spend their last day’s. Death doulas can undergo training to develop skills in communication, active listening, and other areas that are essential for providing end-of-life care.
  4. They are Supportive and can help with practical tasks such as walking the dog, shopping and keeping the dying persons surroundings bright and airy, even maintaining an aquarium.
  5. They are Compassionate and can tailor their approach to each person’s needs. They can provide guidance on end-of-life care with a deep understanding of the emotional and spiritual needs of the dying and their families.
  6. They (should) offer Personalized help and will help with funeral planning. In fact, many funeral homes offer death doula services.
  7. They are Empathetic people and can provide emotional support to the dying and their families.
  8. They can help with legacy projects such as writing letters or recording videos for loved ones. Other things might include brightening up the room, listening to the stories of their clients and sometimes recording them.
  9. They are Flexible and can provide companionship to the dying and their families.
  10. Many have a good amount of life experience. They have knowledge of the dying process, grief, bereavement, and other related topics.
  11. They are Holistic: Death doulas take a holistic approach to care. They consider the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs of the dying and their families.
  12. They are knowledgeable about Self Care (or should be). Many death doulas have Reiki qualifications and/or are members of other mindfulness associations.

How do Death Doulas Help the Dying and their Families.

Often when people are terminally ill, family members are coming to grips with their own thoughts and emotions, and they still need to get on with their own lives as well.

So, in the best interests of their dying relative, they find having someone independent of the family who will provide a better level of holistic care than they can.

While Hospices, aged care homes and hospitals with Palliative care wards have provided a good service, the times are changing.

Hiring an independent death doula will provide a more unique personalized service that will include things major health care providers overlook, or are too short staffed to provide.

While experience in aged care or some other medical background is useful, other skills (life skills), can also come into play.

For instance: If you have knowledge on the maintenance of aquariums. Many aged care homes have them.

Plenty of private homes do too.

The serenity of aquariums has been shown to reduce pain and anxiety as well being a calming influence for anyone from kids to the elderly.

Lets face it, if you went to a death doulas convention they could tell stories most of us would have no idea about.

With staffing levels at many medical establishments stretched, more and more people are choosing to pass at home where they can receive a higher level of care and that may include looking after the patients Zebrafish.

More seriously though, if the dying person is leaving behind a life-long partner, the doula needs to be there for both of them.

How to Hire a Death Doula Through an Agency

Hiring a death doula through an agency should be a trouble-free experience.

Agencies will vet the qualifications of the doula before listing them and assigning them jobs, so the consumer has a good experience.

Agencies will also ask clients for feedback on their care so they are able to rate the level of care provided to the client.

One other thing about agencies is, many of them are trainers of Doulas as well as being an agency.

One downside to agencies is they will likely cost a little more than if you hired a doula privately.

Hiring an Independent Doula.

There are no mandatory requirements for a death doula to be certified, or licensed (there is a push in some places to have this changed).

There is nothing unusual in hiring an independent Birthing Doula, so, like someone who helps at the beginning of life, there is nothing unusual in having someone help at the end of life.

This may be a more difficult option because:

Working independently gives the Death Doula choices as to when they work. Being a job that is emotionally taxing, choosing how often they work allows them to get some self-care time.

You will want to be sure the doula you hire has their head in the right space.

Agencies can rotate staff, an independent death doula is not able to do that.

Compared with agencies who will generally have trained staff, Independent doulas may only offer life experience (and there is nothing wrong with that), however choosing a death doula who is certified, will give you peace of mind that the person you have hired to take care of your loved in their final days, will provide a good level of care and support.


While hiring a death doula may not be for everyone, they do help families facing a multitude of complex emotions and other complications associated with the dying process.

Each death is as unique as we are, and death doulas are able to provide care that respects that uniqueness and gives the dying person a chance to go out on their own terms with peace and comfort.

At the same time, they help the family come to terms and make peace with the journey and allow them space to have moments they won’t forget.

If you have an interest in becoming a death doula the IAP course can be seen here.

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