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"So what exactly is it that you do?"

That's a question I get often...right after people recover from the fact that I'm not dressed all in black. (Although, being an ex-New Yorker, sometimes I am..)

Here's what I DON'T do:

--Provide medical or legal advice

--Give people medication

I tell people that most of my time is spent listening. As we're all unique individuals, the type of support a person and their family needs at the end of life is unique as well. Some people are solely interested in the practical information I can provide—what forms do you need to have in order at the end of life; a checklist to have in your "When I Die" file; a list of social service agencies in your area. Some are in need of more emotional support—someone to hold space for them as they work through the fear and regret and resentment that often comes up during a situation like this so that they're able to show up for their family in the most helpful way possible. Some want to brainstorm about creative ways to leave behind a legacy.

Doula is a Greek word that means "woman who serves" or companions. I don't fix; I don't advise. I hold space so you can advocate for yourself.

In my recent TEDx Talk “How talking about death can help you truly live” I spoke about how the sooner we do the outer and inner work to prepare for our inevitable end of life, the more freely and intentionally we can live the time we have left. When we're wrestling with the feelings of powerlessness that accompany the idea of our inevitable death, to feel that we do have power in how intentional we want to be with what that looks like at the end—where we want to be; what we hope those last few weeks/days/hours are like; what we want done with our remains after we're gone—makes us feel better. Being willing to talk about the end and being willing to have the sometimes tough conversations to find completion in your relationships not only brings you relief and solace, but it does that same for your loved ones. When your family is tasked with not only the anticipatory grief of your death, but also have to decide what dress you might want to be buried in, it's a lot. By doing this work on the front end, it allows you to be present together at the end, which is something you'll never regret.

I work hand-in-hand with hospice and palliative care teams, and provide an extra layer of support that complements medical care. The benefits of hiring an end of life doula include:

• Decrease in fear

• Education about options

• Greater satisfaction with care

• Better attention to wishes

• Reduction of burden on loved ones

• Increased support for family

• Earlier emotional support

• Better continuity of care

• Help with the grieving process starting with anticipatory grief

Ways end of life doulas can help:

• Supply you with resources about advanced directives

• Help you prioritize what you want to do with the time you have left

• Hold space as you process tough emotions (guilt, regrets, unfinished business, shame)

• Help you with a life review for find meaning in life and provide closure

• Storytelling to uncover family connections and one’s personal or community contributions

• Creative legacy projects

• Help with bequeathing

• Creating a plan for support at the very end for the entire family

• Help alleviate any worry you may have about leaving a beloved animal companion behind by planning for their care

• Guided meditations to help with anxiety and relaxation

• Grief movement to help alleviate anxiety

• Help with planning funeral and memorial services

• Vigil planning and presence

• Grief processing and support for the family during and after death

• Obituary and eulogy writing

You don't have to have to be near death in order to work with me. In fact, starting to ponder what you want now allows you to make decisions that are in line with your authenticity rather than because you're back is up against the wall. To that end, I offer the BodyMindSoul package which is 7 sessions to prepare for the end now. Those who have taken advantage of this have remarked on the paradox of how much more alive and free they feel after having thought so much about death.

And, because of my 30 plus years as a writer and storyteller, I also do legacy memoirs for individuals, families, and companies. You can learn more about those in this segment that LPB's Louisiana: The State We're In did on me.

So the answer to what it is I do is essentially...I hold space for you to figure out your priorities in order to be best prepared for the end. I hold space for you to figure out what feels undone at the moment, so you can do it before it's too late.

If you have more questions, please reach out to me at I offer a free 30 minute call to see whether this is something that can help you and your family.

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