Guidance and Companionship Through the End-of-Life
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) as well as a death doula. I have worked with hundreds of dying individuals and their loved ones as a hospice social worker, volunteer coordinator, and manager. As a doula I have been at the bedside of a great many people as they journeyed through the dying process. I have also maintained a private practice for 25 years, focused on helping people face death and grieve their losses.
In 2003, while working at a large hospice in New York City, I created the first end-of-life doula program in the U.S. to serve people in the months before death, through the final days of life, and to guide loved ones into the early days of their grief. The training I developed then was based on what I learned from birth doulas and my experience with the dying.
In 2014 I left my position as the head of social services at a New Jersey hospice and began teaching the doula approach more actively. In 2015 I cofounded the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA), a 501c3 non-profit organization to bring deeper meaning and greater comfort to the way people die in our country. As Executive Director of the organization it was my privilege to see it grow into a leader in the death doula field until I stepped down from that role at the end of 2021.
From the beginning of my work in 2003 I have taught thousands of people how to serve as a doula. And throughout those years I have continued to act as an end-of-life doula myself, helping to guide people as they faced death or grieved a loss. I have also mentored many end-of-life doulas and helped hospices create internal doula programs.
My book, Caring for the Dying, the Doula Approach to a Meaningful Death, was published by Red Wheel Weiser in 2017. It was selected as a best book of the year in 2017 by the Library Journal. It was reprinted in 2020 under a new title, Finding Peace at the End of Life, A Death Doula’s Guide for Families and Caregivers. It has been published in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and soon in Japan.
At the end of 2021 I left my role as Executive Director of INELDA to return to direct care. But the calling I first experienced to work with dying people, and later my passion for training others to do the work, is very much alive in me. I just want to bring my experience, knowledge, and vision to the place where it can have an immediate impact: the individual lives of the dying, those experiencing a loss, and to individual death doulas who want to become more confident, creative, and successful in their work.