What Is a Holistic End of Life Skills Practitioner?
An End of Life Practitioner is someone who works holistically with people who are at the end of their lives. We are known by many names – Death Priestesses, Soul Midwives, Death Doulas, Doulas for the Dying, Death Midwives, and simply End of Life Practitioners, to name just a few. I have trained extensively with The Soul Midwives School , completing levels 1, 2 and the TLC Training.
A soul midwife specifically is a non medical, holistic companion who guides and supports the dying in order to facilitate a gentle and peaceful death. We can be from any walk of life – many people who choose this path are palliative care workers, but you do not need to be a nurse or have nursing skills – they are carers, holistic therapists, healers, teachers and people who are already helping loved ones at the end of their lives.
We are trained in a variety of holistic, therapeutic techniques to ensure loving and compassionate care at all times. We can use sound, colour, touch and smell and other gentle techniques to help alleviate pain and anxiety, but really, often nothing is required but a loving presence. We can help with blessing and balancing rituals, releasing techniques, visualisation, breathing techniques and meditation.We can help to take care of the body and even work with souls after death (this is called Psychopomp or Deathwalking work and is deep level spiritual / shamanic work)
One of the most important things we can do is LISTEN… and hold the space for the dying person, to provide comfort and continuous support and reassurance in helping a dying person to experience the death they want.
We not only help with the spiritual aspect, on a practical level we can help to create memory books , and death plans, we help with sign posting, navigating the confusing red tape that surrounds death and the dying process, before, during and after.
We can be called in by the family or the dying person themselves at any stage. We provide support not just for the dying person but also the families and loved ones.
We work wherever we are needed, within the home, hospitals, hospices and care homes.
Years ago people were born and died at home… often there was a community wise woman, who helped with all the births and deaths, the Doula / Midwife, who was called upon in these situations. Families and the community cared for the sick and the dying, supporting one another ..these processes were (and ARE) a natural part of living. The dying process is very much like the birthing process – hence so much referencing to that with the “midwife” and “doula” names. When we are dying we are transitioning. Dying is the one certainty we have in life, the one thing that unites us and binds us all together, and yet it is the last great taboo of our culture! It is a great honour and privilege to sit with someone as they leave this world.
I began my journey into Soul Midwifery many years ago when I realised that we do not “die well” in the West. I started researching “better ways to die”, really as a way of coming to terms with my own death and the loss of others in my life, and of realising the importance of putting down my own wishes not only in the event of my death, but also in telling people “how” I wanted my dying to be! Of course, as with so many things in life, that search took me down a path that introduced me to Felicity Warner and the Soul Midwife movement, and is a continually evolving and ongoing process of self-development and learning.
As a fully qualified holistic therapist, Reiki healer (to level 3 Master Teacher) and hedgerow herbalist ( click to visit my Facebook page), I utilise all of the skills and therapies that I have at my disposal into my End of Life Skills practice. I have much experience within palliative care, I have been a Butterfly Volunteer (a companion to the dying) at the Lister Hospital, and a complementary therapist volunteer at Willen Hospice. I co-founded and run a charity palliative complementary therapy service (Angelic Aurora End of Life Charity Foundation – click to visit my Facebook page or website ) supporting, educating and advocating awareness around everything to do with end of life, as well as providing gentle holistic therapies to those at end of life or living with terminal diagnosis. We hold regular death and grief cafes, as well as wellbeing retreat events.
It IS possible to have a “good” death. Knowledge is power, and I believe in empowering people to make informed choices, not only about their lives, but their deaths, and how they die. Over the year’s those skills have been lost and we are now all so afraid of getting old, sick, and dying. Much of my work now involves running small workshops teaching and sharing these end of life skills that we have lost – setting up meetings and discussions about death and dying, bringing understanding and awareness to something that we have all been hiding from and fearful of for too long.
There is nothing “special” about being a Soul Midwife (or whatever label we who work with the dying choose to give ourselves), I hope to help people reconnect with these end of life “skills” by taking away some of the fear, by empowering people to tune into their innate knowing and tap into ancient wisdom that is within us all once more. It is my passion to give people the confidence and skills to be able to sit with and help their own loved ones at end of life, rather than give away that power to others. There is nothing to fear if we have the knowledge, and support.
End of Life Skills Workshop
I run small informal workshops aimed at anyone who may be caring for someone at the end of their lives – and that is ALL OF US!! Whether that be in a professional role or for a loved one, this course will give you the confidence to take back some control in what is a very difficult situation. These are emotive days, filled with laughter, tears, the sharing of stories along with practical hands on skills and sign posting that will empower people to support and give gentle holistic care to someone who is at the end of their life so that they may have a peaceful death.
Each workshop is different, and evolves to what the people attending need to get from it, but always the feedback that I have had from people is positive, and they always leave feeling more able to cope with what they may encounter. Some of the things we will cover on the day are;
- Becoming comfortable talking about death and dying
- Learning Comfort Touch Massage
- Creating a peaceful and loving space around the bedside
- Deep listening skills
- The stages of dying
- signposting – practicalities and legalities
- death paperwork
- funeral information
- The importance of advanced care planning
- An explanation of the drugs used at end of life
I like to run this course in a small group, as this is an emotive subject and I find a small group provides encouragement and support. We all learn so much from others experiences.
I can also run this as a 1 to 1, or small individual group, if you require a more personal approach or need to get these skills in as a matter of urgency. Smaller groups or an individual means we can tailor it to you and condense it into about 2 – 4 hours, with the emphasis on what you need to get from it.
Investment; £125. per person. Comprehensive manual and certificate provided. This course is insurable by Balens.
Face to face group – Day runs from 11am to 4pm approx. Refreshments provided, please bring your own lunch.
Advance Care Planning Workshop – coming soon!
I will be holding these workshops to enable those who have attended the End of Life Skills day to actually begin to create Death Plans and Advance Directives etc. Once we have made the brave steps to confront and face these things, it can be really overwhelming to actually start the process of planning – but by coming together and forming a plan, we can take some of the overwhelm out.
These workshops are still in the planning phase, as there is much medical and technical jargon that i hope to explain and “bust”, but I hope to have them in action by the end of the year – watch this space! and please let me know if this will be of interest and I can put your name on the list.
Sam Lacey. VTCT level3, AHTT, Award in Education and Training (AET) level 3, MFHT, Soul Midwife, Reiki Master Teacher, Hedgerow Herbalist, Elemental Celebrant IPHM Cert.