Ritual, celebration, ceremony- it's all designed to help

Ritual is a pause we take to mark the end of one time and the beginning of another. Whether it is for coming of age, joining two lives in marriage or marking the end of an era, ritual brings us together to celebrate.

Modern times have many families less connected to a religious faith and more connected to a community of friends who are their support, their social network, their spiritual inspiration, and the people with whom they mark transitions. Today it is more common to attend a “Celebration of Life” than a wake and funeral. And yet, these differing ceremonies are more similar than they are different.

As you ponder your own death, how would you want to be celebrated? Although it is sometimes said that these ceremonies are for the living left behind, often the living want to honor the spirit and personality of the deceased. In writing a plan for your own last days and for the way you’d like your body cared for, you can include some thoughts about what kind of memorial you would want to represent you.

A grief ritual, offered by Peaceful Presence, can be a wonderful way for the grieving persons to gather together and reprocess the death. The “death story” can be told, memories shared, food and drink enjoyed, community connection and loving support offered. Often at a grief ritual, a small token is given to attendees to memorialize the dearly departed and the ceremony.

So whether you’d like friends to literally take a hike to a special place, to gather at your favorite watering hole, or to come together in someone’s home to celebrate your life, to have a particular religious ceremony or to be part of a special ritual, know that each of these will help. Help your loved ones to process and experience their grief and move forward in your spirit.

What is a doula?

Doula is a greek word that originally meant "woman who serves another woman".  In the 1960s it was adopted to define the role of an assistant during the birth process. Birth Doulas have evolved into a well-known partner for women as they prepare for and experience the birth of a child.

dou·la ˈdo͞olə/noun

  1. a woman who is trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may provide support to the family after the baby is born.

Henry Fersko-Weiss, founder of the International End-of-Life Doula Association (INELDA) identified in the early 2000s that there was room for more assistance in the process of death. He saw that death is as natural as birth, and after meeting a birth doula, decided to develop a field of "End of Life Doulas", also called "Death Doulas". 

Doulas are both male and female, and find that they are called to serve the dying. As INELDA states on their website: 
"Doulas provide emotional, spiritual, and physical support at an intensely personal and crucial time. They assist people in finding meaning, creating a legacy project, and planning for how the last days will unfold. Doulas also guide and support loved ones through the last days of life and ease the suffering of grief in its early stages."

Peaceful Presence Doulas have years of experience with caring for people at the end of life and have been present for hundreds of deaths in our roles as hospice nurses. We are Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurses who have knowledge and understanding of the medical aspect of death. However, we believe in the power of simple presence during the last stage of life and the power of non-medical symptom management as well. We offer comfort, education and suggestions for how families can be more aware and available to accompany the dying. We believe in bringing deeper meaning to dying and our goal is to reimagine the way our community talks about and experiences death.