Traditionally known to help bring new life into the world, doulas endeavor to create a warm and celebratory experience for parents, baby, and family. As this exciting journey comes full circle to the end of life, the same positive experience is necessary to support loved ones. Understanding that death is often associated with fear and that there is a need to help both dying loved ones and their families cope, Susan Capurso, founder of End East Doula Care, aims to do death better through emotional, practical, and spiritual guidance.
As a person nears the end of their life, families may opt for hospice care and/or medical teams to help along this journey. In June 2018, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization announced the formation of a council to provide information and resources regarding the role of end-of-life doulas. These non-medical caregivers offer holistic support and comfort to the dying and their families, complementing both hospice and medical teams.
“Doulas support patients and families physically, spiritually, emotionally and practically,” Capurso says, noting doulas are now serving in their own practices after an extensive certification process. “They guide from the beginning to end and enter a person’s life no matter where they are on their timeline.”
Capurso’s journey to becoming a certified doula came from her own experience dealing with the loss of her husband. Without support or guidance, she was filled with fear and anxiety, unsure what would happen and what to tell her children. Knowing there had to be a better way, she began her own practice to utilize creative legacy work.
“Every piece you leave behind helps future generations to have a better tomorrow,” Capurso says. “Whether creating pieces of legacy, fulfilling bucket lists that haven’t yet come to fruition, or completing your missing Advanced Directives, I can help button it all up, soup to nuts. Where I can’t help, I have the resources you need implemented into your life.”
East End Doula Care helps people to leave behind a legacy through various projects that help construct plans to fit individual needs. Being mindful of the process is essential. Guided visualizations, meditation, and music therapy are used to help with pain management, anxiety and fear. Other services include companionship for patients and families, education, vigils, funeral planning, obituary writing, and more. In her soon-to-be published book, Capurso offers more than 100 ways families and individuals can incorporate projects, ideas, and tools to celebrate the end-of-life journey.
In addition to working with patients and families, East End Doula Care also supports professional caregivers. With facilities filling up due to increased populations, caregivers may experience a disconnect. After the passing of a resident, in some cases a person has worked with for many years, caregivers can be moved quickly on to the next individual. East End Doula Care offers workshops for facilities and caregivers, focusing on rituals and vigils for an End-of-Life Celebration.
Capurso says her doula work is collaborative. She enters an individual’s life and works to help them think outside of the box. Sharing wisdom and experiences, the work can be quite the feat, but is entirely achievable. Fear and anxiety fall away for both the patient and family, creating a mindful sense of ease as the natural end to life comes.
“It is not only an honor to be able to travel with a person as they enter their last chapter, it is a privilege,” Capurso shares. “Death doesn’t have to be so scary, it can be a warm and celebratory experience filled with positivity and light. With a little pre-planning and mindfulness, I help you do just that.”
At eastenddoulacare.com, Capurso’s e-book, “Before You Go – Ten Meaningful Ways to Bring Peace, Balance and Closure to your End of Life Journey,” is available for a free download.