Remove these ads. Join the Worldbuilders Guild

Death Doula

An advocate for the dying

On the Search of the Good Death

Death Doulas originated on the smaller and (then) self-isolated island of Stunveldt.
  On the Stunveldti culture, death is taken with reverence and kindness, but with a lot more openness than in the rest of the archipelago, being considered a passageway into eternity, which one has to aim to help their loved ones go through in peace and good company.
  It is a deep cultural belief in their nation that all kinds of love, be it fraternal, romantic, platonic, or otherwise carry with them the responsibility of helping the loved one achieve a Good Death: One filled with love, with cheerfulness and relaxation, without worries or regrets.
One of the consequences of these cultural ideas is the revered, deeply respected job of professional Death Doulas: A person, usually (but not necessarily) of neutral gender, whose job is to act as an advocate and companion of those going through the process of dying and ensure they are comfortable on their final moments.
  A death doula will help the dying person sort their pending affairs, ease their anxieties and worries, and prepare their deathbed. Once their client is ready for dying, the death doula will gather the person's loved ones and comfort their client, making sure they are surrounded by pleasant things and sensations and helping their body be free of aches and tensions.
 

The Opening of Stunveldt's culture

Island Stunveldt sepia.png
Up until the year 2586 E.Alz, Stunveldt was a closed culture, that aggressively rejected any contact with other cultures, except with their only allies, the neighbouring nation of Ruh.
During that year, the nation of Stunveldt unanimously decided to open their borders and culture to the rest of the Haan Archipelago. While this cultural event is mostly remembered for the introduction of Teobrew to the other islands, this was also the opening for other cultures to learn about dozens of new concepts, including among them the Good Death, to which some had to hang on tight to overcome the cruelty of the Rust.

Death Doulas during The High Rust

Banner Corrosion.jpg
Corrosión by Naelín
The High Rust came to the inhabitants of the archipelago and surrounded them with inevitable, visible death.
  The rich and powerful, those that were more used and more able to hide death from the eyes of the public, became riddled with friends and family covered in the scaly orange patches that announced their end and more often than not, found themselves in said situation.
  Up to that point, some people have had sparsely started working as death doulas in the island of Ruh, but other cultures continued to see it as morbid and strange.
  However, soon enough the desperation and hopelessness became stronger than the need to save face, and people started turning to any small hope of making imminent deaths easier on both the family and the sick ones.
Some people, usually those that used to work as midwives, caregivers for the elderly and even lawyers started to offer services to care for the dying and arrange their affairs, and even after the High Rust passed, they slowly became more specialized, learning the most important lesson for this profession from the Stunveldtian: A Death Doula's client is the dying person and not their family.
They have to specialize in advocating for their client, being their allies and concentrating their efforts on the dying person's wishes and needs, while keeping the family and friends in line.   With the passing of the few years after the Rust, people on most of the islands went back to treating death with the same veil of taboo as before, though some sparks of openness and desire to turn death into a more positive experience remained in some places...
20201227 - Labour of Love.png
Labour of Love by Naelin
A classic Stunveldti bedside decoration for those who seek to ease their mind and warm their soul: Scented candles, a small cuppat's skull, aromatic herbs wrapped in a silky cloth, and a meditating lyraik doll.

Controversy

Besides the cultural aversion to openly talking about death, some folk had actual issues with the idea of death doulas' profession becoming popular and expanding through the islands.
  On one side, several people expressed preoccupation that Death Doulas will push away the death-related traditions from the other islands in order to introduce Stunveldti concepts.
  On the other side, some people are worried that welcoming death, talking about it like it's no big deal or involving the dying person on their own death's preparation is morbid, and would make society find dying for unworthy causes (especially those where the powerful decide that people are an expendable resource) less outrageous.
  Some are wary about the use of these doulas being promoted by the Thaurian monarchy, as they think that there may be a hidden agenda, probably related to the previous point.   Last, but not least, some families are not happy with having a third party openly acting only on the best interest of the dying person, as that often prevents them from having their way on things.
This article has been a labour of love coming from a very personal place.
Do you want to know more about real-life death doulas? Check this beautiful video by the amazing Ask a Mortician and Going with Grace.

Remove these ads. Join the Worldbuilders Guild

Thaur's Death Doulas

Naelin notext small.jpg
The Kingdom of Thaur was born as a direct consequence of the High Rust, which destroyed its predecessor the Kingdom of Merthiorn.
  Shortly after the officialization of his position as a king, Naelín started making small declarations and discourses about death, especially linked to the experiences lived during the High Rust and encouraged the publishing of works related to death positivity, end of life planning and innovative, counter-cultural ways of proceeding with dead bodies.
Tahur Flag.png
The Death Doulas started becoming a more accepted part of Thaurian culture, as did the end of life planning. While still met with apprehension and reticence by some, a lot of people affected by the High Rust found peace of mind on these new concepts and became some of the strongest supporters of these new ideas.
  Some, however, think that the king's campaigning is a way to make the population process more readily the fall of the previous kingdom, and therefore accept his reign and governmental decisions faster.
  Those who know him from before the High Rust will mention, though, how the seedling of all those ideas was there from a long time ago.


Cover image: by Naelin

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
27 Dec, 2020 22:02

What a wholesome profession! I can see how others might regard it differently if they knew little about what they do (or if their existing culture was too deeply ingrained in their beliefs surrounding death).


Explore the dark fantasy world of Melior
Check out my worldbuilding in the dark fantasy world of Melior
27 Dec, 2020 22:12

Thank youuu <3 I think this profession is as respectable and valuable as it gets, and it is a blessing that they actually exist. I hope they become more well known around the world, and I hope my article make some more people learn about them <3

28 Dec, 2020 10:15

This is such an interesting profession, I really enjoyed reading about it. I particularly like the instance on the fact that the client is the person dying, not their families or friends. Great stuff!

sending good vibes <3 - Author of Interarcanum and Shakiraverse
29 Dec, 2020 13:49

Thank you TC! I think that's the most important part. The Doula is there to help you die a good death, not to help your family interfere with it, that's why the word "advocate" is written all over! :)

28 Dec, 2020 18:29

Very thoughtful and interesting profession! Since the death doulas are there for the dying person, do people normally hire them in advance? (as in: I know I'm sick so I start looking for a death doula that I like)
Also: how do death doulas know when the moment is coming? And what happens in those "typical" moments, when a person is "about to die", but then they keep not dying?

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
28 Dec, 2020 22:46

As a fan of Ask A Mortician and Caitlin Doughty, I love this so much. Such an interesting profession, and I love that they're slowly changing the way dying is looked at in their culture, though some people are resistant to it. I love the art of the bedside decoration, btw. <3

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
5 Jan, 2021 22:28

I loved this article. Their profession is so important, and I want to know more about them. Also, what happens when someone dies abruptly? The Death Doulas can do something for them after they are dead?

6 Jan, 2021 09:20

<3 I had spotted this a few days ago but didn't want to get too influenced by it before I wrote my Bone Collector :) A Death Doula is very adjacent to what I do on a daily basis and it is such a blessing for me to have someone that "gets it". With all the professional courses and wellbeing advice to not drop into compassion fatigue, this is up there with the most helpful things I read about it. Thank you, Nae.

16 Jan, 2021 00:09

This is one of the most meaningful comments I've ever got on an article, Kros.   I am so extremely glad that you liked it so much and that you found it helpful. I wrote with great care, and a lot of love went into it. I am glad it showed :)