Welcome to our Feature Doula series! We are featuring a new doula every 1-2 months, sharing their story of how they came into working in palliative care, what inspires their work, their go-to self care practices as well as any go-to end of life care resources they enjoy.
Our newest Feature Doula is Shelley Blair, from the Blair Group in Edmonton, Alberta.
What drew you to working as an End of Life Doula?
My interest in End of Life work was sparked by personal experiences as a caregiver to my Mother. The time I spent helping her transition was an incredible gift as I was able to give her the best death I could – she helped me into this world and I, in turn, helped her out. The intimacy one can share with the dying is an experience that fills your heart with love. This journey with my Mother fuelled my interest into a passion – my dedication to End of Life care by helping those at the End of Life and their families on this journey is a beautiful reality that gives me such gratitude and honour. Discussing death at any age or any circumstances is what completes our life. A complete life includes a good death.
What training and education did you take to become an End of Life Doula?
I completed my End of Life Doula Certification through the University of Vermont. I had amazing instructors (Francesca Arnoldy and Judy Ashley) who not only guided the Doula program but offered firsthand experiences along the way. Other training that I have completed includes: Soul Passages – Doula Training, Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association-Hospice Palliative Care Volunteers Training Program, and Certificate in Complimentary and Integrated Health. Through my local Health Authorities, I have had the opportunity to complete Palliative Care Volunteer Training.
What is your go-to self care practice?
In order to give my all to my clients, I know that I must first take care of me. My own family support me completely in my desire to grow in this role. And through meditation I bring as much inner peace to myself as I can. I also utilize EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to get me over times of anxiety that sometimes surface. Reading the books of my mentors such as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Francesca Arnoldy and Kathryn Mannix brings reassurance and ignites my passion to continue on.
What do you love most about your work?
I respect the people that I work firsthand with. They teach me so much about death and dying. Being part of the journey with them fills my heart with immense gratitude and peace.
Do you have a favourite social media account that inspires or informs your business practice?
I am able to connect with a community of like-minded people through my UVM End-of-Life Doula and Lifespan Doulas Facebook groups which allows me to communicate questions and experiences I may have.
What is your favourite quote?
“From love flows happiness, contentment, peace and joy” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
What is your favourite place to volunteer and why?
My favourite places to volunteer is on the Palliative Ward at the Grey Nuns Hospital and with the Pilgrims Hospice in their NODA (No One Dies Alone) program as it keeps me connected with my doula skills and allows me to share my time with those that need it most. I love the road that I am travelling, and each day brings new and valued experiences.