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Gentle Journey

Nonprofit

end-of-life doula

community outreach         

Bringing deeper meaning to life & death

"My visits with Annice really help me through my days in hospice. Reviewing my life has brought me more peace. I'm processing things in my life that I had forgotten about but were still in my mind needing attention."

Nancy, Bosque County, TX

What is an end-of-life doula

What is an
End-of-life Doula?

As an end-of-life doula, I will walk by your side and support you and your loved ones throughout this deeply meaningful time.

 

The doula does not enter with a plan or agenda but rather follows the clients needs. I offer a menu of options and the client can make their own choices of how they want to proceed or focus their time. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed then you don't need to decide anything. Just call and I'll come with support however is needed.

 

I can help with the tough conversations and can guide the individual or the family to creatively consider a gentle approach to the dying process with a focus, for example, on the hope of inner healing and peace. If and when desired, a doula can help move towards an honest and open discussion of death and dying thereby aiming to bring more peace to the journey.

 

A doula focuses on the voice of the dying person in the busy days when family and caregivers often find themselves with hardly a moment to slow down. I can help the family find more moments of connection as well. Together we can explore emotions and discover a unique life meaning which can bring more peace to all.

 

The client (or caregivers) can choose a guided meditation, plan a legacy project or work to make wishes known through a vigil plan.

 

A doula can help create beauty in the least expected of places through “carpe diem days” to purposefully and creatively live moments of joy

 

An end-of-life doula, then, can help you discover and create the kinds of moments you want to have.

 

In addition, the doula can offer vigil care as well as early grief support to loved ones after the death.

 

Once we realize all the beautiful, healing options available to everyone in the circle of the dying process, such potential for peace is discovered.

About me

Annice Barber

My name is Annice (sounds like "uh NIECE") and as an end-of-life doula — also called an end-of-life consultant or death doula — I primarily help the dying and their loved ones journey through their final days months or years. However, I can also apply many of the same activities and services when working with anyone who wants to discover a deeper life.

I feel passionately called to this work of helping others move peacefully and purposefully as they enrich their life or move towards death.

I have been drawn to this work for the past 20 years after experiencing  a purposeful and beautiful, at-home death with the passing of my mother. Once I learned of the end-of-life doula field, I knew it's what I had been looking for over many years. I then completed my doula training through the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA).

I now live my mother's legacy by mothering my own three daughters with my husband, Neil. We love to hike and camp as a family and we travel on wonderful adventures whenever possible. 

I earned my PhD from UCLA  in Applied Linguistics, specializing in discourse analysis and exploring the power of everyday communication. Language is an essential tool used to accomplish our goals throughout all moments of life and often takes on an especially powerful significance near death.

I can assist you and your family in difficult conversations or, if you choose, assist in preparing special messages or communications as your legacy.

Creativity is also a life-long strength of mine and I love putting that creativity to use in all areas of my life.  For example, I am skilled at creating individual retreats and have been involved in retreat design for over 30 years. I love discovering creative ideas and presenting them in a way that helps others find peace and deeper meaning.

Creativity is so beneficial in doula work as we can together create ideas that exactly fit your needs so that you can experience the days and moments you envision.

photo of Annice Barber, end of life doula

All the photos on this website were taken on our family travels. If you are interested in where the pictures were taken and such, I'm happy to talk about it. I love nature photography!

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Services

As a doula, I offer a menu of options. These are some of the services I can provide based on your needs.

Life Review

Sometimes we look back on life wondering what is it all about or what it means. Through gentle conversation over several sessions, I work with you as we talk through life experiences and personal values as meaning and themes emerge. This can bring great comfort and peace to individuals at any point along their life's journey.

Guided Imagery

First we gently decide on a physical location that you want to visit, such as mountains or a beach, and then we go there in the mind. Beginning with a focus on breathing and relaxation, we move into guided imagery involving all your senses. This tends to be very soothing and, additionally, can help greatly with pain management.

Carpe Diem Days

Seize the moment and bring joy and deep, mindful living to your days. Together we craft a collection of ideas you and your loved ones could do to regularly create the kinds of moments you want to have.  We can work to develop a variety of options to cover different moods and physical abilities of any given day. The possibilities are endless!

RUGS Work

RUGS stands for regrets, unfinished business, guilt and shame which can sometimes be difficult topics to discuss with those we love. Some choose to process through these conversations on their way to healing. Any RUGS topic is initiated by the client. Not all people need or want to discuss RUGS. I follow your lead.

Ceremony 

Ceremony and ritual give physical recognition to abstract life events. Creating your own “recognition event” can allow you to process complicated moments, from ending treatment to letting go of a regret. A ritual can be down to earth or more spiritual; it can be basic or more elaborate.

Legacy Project

A legacy project, also called a remembrance project, is a method of writing your own next chapter. How do you want to be remembered? Perhaps you want to leave something for family or friends like video stories or recipes. Also, we can consider what activity or project your loved ones could do in your memory as part of their own healing? 

Retreat Guide

Sometimes we need to get away to find peace - maybe for hours or for days. I plan and guide a retreat according to your chosen focus, using elements that resonate with you. A retreat can be religious (of any faith) or secular. I can plan a retreat for a patient or care team or family. I can be present for the event, it can be virtual or I can just deliver a plan. This is normally an add-on service.

Vigil Planning

I can help you plan how you want your last few days and death to look. We consider all the details of mood and environment, even aspects that you might not have yet considered. Through our conversation, we will develop a “vigil plan” which I will then type up so your care team and family will all know your wishes. 

Holding Vigil

The "vigil" begins when the dying enter the final active dying phase which normally is the final 2-5 days. I offer my presence and support bedside and to the family as we "hold vigil." During these difficult days, I will hold space for you all with grace and compassion.  I offer reassurance and respite care while ensuring that your vigil plan wishes are being fulfilled.

Grief Assistance

Grief comes in many different ways and at different times. A patient often grieves many losses as a disease progresses. For the loved ones accompanying the dying on their journey, grief often proceeds death and can enter a new phase after death; I can help through all this and in the very early stages of post-death grief processing.

Information

Photo of a path through bluebonnets

Notes for the Journey

Thoughts on living and dying by an end-of life doula.  I also share how we all can use the tool of language to  navigate and create our own pathways to living more deeply and dying more  peacefully.

Mission statement, vision statement and core values for Gentle Journey end of life doula

In Summary

Mission statement

Traveling through the final years, months and days preceding death can truly be a beautiful journey, replete with precious moments and sustaining memories. We help the dying and their loved ones discover a peaceful and purposeful death journey by incorporating deep listening and creative approaches. Together we can create the moments you want and the agency in death you envision.

Vision statement

To use creative pathways along with the tool of language to bring peace and agency to all those in the circle of the dying process.

Core values

Peace

Beauty

Agency

Creativity

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