Thank you for reading the first in our Feature Doula series! We will be 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 first doula is Tricia Keith, from InWholeness (website here)
Currently, my side practice as an End-of-Life Doula, brings me a family or an individual about once a year to work with. This is a good fit for me given my current work schedule.
I work full-time at Peace Arch Hospice Society, as Coordinator of Volunteers. I don’t advertise myself as an End-of-Life Doula broadly on the internet simply because I don’t have the extra time to manage that side of the business or serve many clients.
What drew you to working as an End of Life Doula?
My interest in End-of-Life support began about 10 years ago as a natural progression out of the community work I was involved in. That work was a variety of healing and creative arts that connected participants with themselves, each other and nature. Family-led death care, purposeful end-of-life and ceremony were natural extensions of what I had been involved in.
About 2010 I discovered Death Midwifery and I knew I’d found a set of values and practices that reflected many of my own. I lurked for a long time on the internet, absorbing the grassroots scenes in the US, UK and Canada.
What training and education did you take to become an End of Life Doula?
When I was ready to embark on training, I studied with Donna Belk through her online course, Beyond Hospice: training for Midwives to the Dying. (https://beyondhospice.com/) and collaborated with Pashta MaryMoon to supplement the training. Pashta provided By My Heart and Hands - Home Funeral Workshop in my home (Sept. 2014) for a group of women who were also exploring new directions in the fields of End-of-Life care. That was such a turning point! Most of the wonderful people I met in that workshop are actively working in end-of-life support today in the Vancouver Lower Mainland.
What is your go-to self care practice?
My self-care includes my morning practice of meditation and movement, along with nature and good people.
What do you love most about your work?
The best part of this work for me is how it stretches me emotionally and spiritually. Whether it is starting conversations around my own Advanced Care Planning or supporting others with their theirs, the learning is always rich. Spiritually, death awareness stretches me to look back and reach forward, whenever I create ceremony, practice forgiveness meditation, or honour the earth and the place I live intact with the spirit world. Death awareness for me is the centre of purposeful living.
I love the profound and sad, turning point and funny stories that end-of-life bring us. I love creating ceremonies, especially ones to be enacted in nature. And I am always honoured to be involved in the process of people making empowering choices for themselves.
What is your favourite book on end of life care?
The Divine Art of Dying: How to Live Well While Dying, Karen Speerstra and Herbert Anderson
One Drum: Stories and Ceremonies for a Planet, Richard Wagamese
What is your favourite place to volunteer and why?
The best place for me to volunteer these days is with Surrey Threshold Singers, a branch of the international non-profit, www.Threshold Choir.org. Our choir sings songs of spirit and release to those at the threshold of life.