Thanadoulas guide people at the end of their lives. Light on an unknown profession.

“Birds hide to die”… so do people. While death is the ultimate taboo, an ancestral profession is revived: that of thanadoula. The men and women (the majority) who practice it engage in conversation with people at the end of their lives and their families to guide them through this painful moment. A valuable role for those who choose to end their day in the familiar and familiar atmosphere of their own home.

We now know the role of doulas, a term from ancient Greek that means “servant,” and refers to experienced women whose role is to guide mothers-to-be to live the birth of their child well. The profession of thanadoula is still little known, especially in France. In Canada or Switzerland, training and certification schools for the profession have existed for decades to give the keys to people who want to embark on this path.

In the United States, their numbers have risen sharply since the start of the pandemic, underlines an article by Slate† The site reveals that the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance, which had 200 members in 2019, now has more than 1,000. And, continues the magazine “Some training organizations report that the number of people enrolled has more than tripled, as has the number of people seeking help for themselves or others who are on the brink of death.”

Look death in the face

Evidence that the health crisis has put death back at the heart of our concerns. The question of the end of life and death in general has long been avoided by our modern societies. But in contact with a disease that does not necessarily spare the youngest, it was necessary to look the Grim Reaper in the face. The chance to wonder how we would like things to happen when the time comes.

The end-of-life doula, or thanadoula, provides personal support for people at the end of life and their families before, during and after death. Very often his role is critical as families are destitute during the last hours of a loved one’s life. She collects the last words and offers reassuring words. The thanadoula then plays a link between life and death, but also between family members and the person at the end of life.

“I hear stories that probably no one before me has heard before,” Sara Web, United States thanadoulas, told Slate. I hear stories that maybe no one will ever hear again.”

Depending on the wishes of the family, the thanadoula can also accompany her after the death in the practical steps (funeral, administrative procedures, inheritance, etc.).

Read Slate’s full article here for more touching testimonials.

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