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What services does Gentle Journey offer?

Gentle Journey helps with people process death and enrich life.

Gentle Journey offers both doula services and work place/community services.

With an individual who is preparing for death, our doula, Annice Barber, will meet with the individual and their family to determine and meet the needs within the circle of dying.

At the community level, Gentle Journey offers workshops including breath to death and self-care as well as discussion groups on the topic of death or any other beneficial topics. Gentle Journey also organizes grief support groups.

At the workplace, Gentle Journey again works to meet the needs within a workplace community. For example, at a hospital where the staff experienced a quick series of deaths, Gentle Journey can help develop a soothing yet feasible ritual to help others mark a life lost. Also, Gentle Journey can offer self-care training for nursing home or hospice or any workplace. Contact us for more information.

What is an end-of-life doula and how should I explain it to others?

An end of life (EOL) doula is also sometimes referred to as an end-of- life consultant, a death doula or a death midwife (I prefer EOL doula since the care offered is about life as much as death).

An EOL doula offers gentle, consistent, and understanding support for the dying person and for their loved ones during the difficult days of facing death.

When explaining EOL doula work to others, ask first if they have heard of a birth doula. If so, a death doula offers a similar kind of emotional and mental support as the birth doula. In fact the EOL doula support is based on the birth doula model.

Also, you can say, "A doula helps reflect on life, prepare for death and plan for how the person wants to be remembered” or “A doula supports the dying person and their loved ones as they move peacefully through the final days."

How is a doula different from hospice?

I'm a very big advocate of hospice.

Hospice offers many essential services for many of those dying. A hospice care team usually includes doctors, nurses, social workers, and clergy.

A doula does not provide any medical care and focuses instead on support, care, empowerment and comfort for the dying person and for loved ones. The work of hospice and a doula can overlap in some places.

For example, a doula and hospice both can provide education on the death process/stages of death and help establish expectations. However, a doula can usually go much more in depth in non-medical and creative support areas. With the much lighter caseload and no checklists, a doula has much more time to commit to the individual dying person and to their family. 

What if I need support but don't want to decide anything more?

Managing a terminal illness can be exhausting work. Your brain just fills with doctors and care needs and concerns. I can come and help without you adding anything else to your brain. I can begin with no decisions on care, no plans. I will come and , through my experience, simply what is needed and we can go from there. I will support you and take some of the mental load from you. Just contact me and I will come.

Who hires you?

Anyone can hire me such as the person who wants to explore their life and plan their death or the loved ones of that person. In addition, we can be hired by caregivers or those concerned about caregivers or by someone who wants to overcome a general fear of death.

Do services cost anything?

Gentle Journey strongly adheres to the belief that all people, regardless of income, should have access to death care services. Gentle Journey does not charge for services. Donations are greatly appreciated from those who are able to donate to cover gas, supplies, etc. Donations for services allow us to continue serving those in need

Can I work with you from a distance? Do you offer virtual services?

Yes, I do virtual appointments for all of my services. This option is especially viable for a patient early in a diagnosis when they are still able to communicate easily via a video call to process a life review, consider legacy work, or plan a vigil, for example. However, patients who cannot speak or move, often find great benefit in virtual guided meditation tailored to them. This allows them a beautiful escape from their confined space. As long as a patient can listen to a video call, then I can help them virtually. Virtual work is also very effective for working with caregivers throughout the process or guiding them through their in-person work.

When should I hire an end of life doula?

Literally, any time but the sooner the better.

As an EOL doula, we can be hired at any time in life to process life and understand death.

We also can become first involved after the death of a loved one to help a family with grief and a remembrance project. This could be after a sudden death or miscarriage.

Usually, however, we are hired after a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Hiring a doula usually proceeds any hospice care because we begin our focus on processing life and gradually shift to focusing on death as the client's focus shifts. However, we can also be hired in the last weeks, days, or even hours of life. Hiring a doula at any time will enrich and bring healing to the process.

 

Why should I try to hire an end of life doula earlier in the process?

Hiring a doula early brings more peace of mind to the dying person and to their family.

It helps ensure self-understanding or growth will be accomplished earlier so the individual has time to ponder and process their experiences with a more peaceful mind and will be prepared to face challenges with a stronger skill set.

If called early, we usually work on processing life meaning and then, if desired, we can come back later when the person is ready to start preparing for their final days.

However, we do not have a set agenda.

We only help with whatever the dying person chooses to focus on.

Every case is individual, as unique as our individual lives.

When is it too late to hire an end of life doula?

It is never too late to hire a doula, even in the final days or even after death.

Doulas can be hired after death by loved ones to help them plan a legacy/remembrance project or to help them with early grieving.

Hiring a doula at any point in the process is beneficial.

Do you specialize?

Death affects us all and I work with all people who need my help.

I specialize in creating individual guided meditations that create peace and relaxation for you. I have written a series of powerful  meditations that immerse the person in specific gospel stories: however, I can use this technique to deeply immerse you in any situation or story. Gentle Journey is also unique among doulas in that we in offer Carpe Diem days, for a joyful paradigm shift. In addition, we offer either in-person or virtual retreat plans and/or guides according to your specifications.

 

I specialize working with those with communication challenges such as in late stage ALS. I have worked with an ALS patient virtually as well, including after communication became highly challenging. Guided meditations, carpe diem days and reflection questions as well as vigil planning all especially bring direction and peace  in such a situation.

I also have chosen to especially help those who have experienced any form of abuse, including emotional and verbal etc.  I am not a therapist and will refer to other professionals as needed but I am a trained, compassionate listener and steady support.

How do you determine what the dying person or group needs?

I follow your lead as discovered through our natural conversation.You can choose what you want to focus on.

The service "menu" includes things like discovering your life meaning, processing unfinished business or regrets, incorporating rituals and ceremonies, guided meditation, developing a carpe diem framework, planning a legacy project, making a vigil plan, holding vigil, and initiating grief processing. Through these and other services the dying person and their family can discover a deeper richness to the journey.

In practice, the process and the choices usually unfold organically. You do not have to know what you want to do when we begin. The process and the needs can gently emerge.

For a group, we meet with them to determine needs and focus.

Do you work with children, those with dementia, or with communication challenges?

Yes, I work with children and their families. Often the focus of the work with children is on developing a legacy project and supporting through anticipatory grief. I also work with non-verbal (I specialize in working with ALS). In this case the choice of focus is often on guided meditation which can offer a powerful escape and mental freedom. Vigil planning also can be accomplished through yes/no questions or with the family. I also work with pre-dementia clients who often feel an urgency to work through the life review process and other services. I help those with dementia who normally find a great deal of calm and peace with guided meditation. Even if a patient is unconscious, a doula can help create a soothing environment (unconscious people often have a degree of awareness of what is happening around them) as well as offer caregiver support and respite. In all of these cases, the family is typically more involved to varying degrees so much of the work is with the family's involvement.

Can you help with sudden death? Or with a death that I still need to process?

Yes, Experiencing a sudden death often brings shock, disbelief, anger and a feeling of vulnerability. I can help begin the process of journeying through these feelings and reactions when you are ready. With a sudden death or unresolved grief, the services that are often the most beneficial for the individual or family are legacy project planning, ritual, retreat, and guided meditation.  Also, in guided meditation, through deep relaxation I can guide you in a meditation where you can meet and speak with your loved one. Many find this experience to be very powerful.  Loved ones who experience a sudden death or any death may take days, months or years to contact me.

What if I am afraid of death in general?

The fear of death is quite common and most people fear death to varying degrees. However, sometimes this fear interferes with life and an individual looks for help. Gentle Journey can help you or your loved ones step towards peace with death, especially through using the services of life review, ritual, retreat, guided meditation, legacy visioning, and carpe diem days. These services can be offered to a group, as well, or through a presentation format. Referrals to therapy will also be given depending on the case.

Do you have any special training?

I completed my doula training through the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA). I continue with ongoing education through INELDA monthly. In addition, I have a PhD in applied linguists, currently with a special focus on how we communicate in the dying process. I very much understand the power of telling life stories to discover understanding.

Additionally, in Fall 2023, I will complete the Sexual Assault Training Program Certification (SATP ) along with a 40-hour domestic abuse and care course through Cross Timber Family Services, Stephenville. Texas.

Does insurance cover end of life doulas?

I am a fee-for-service provider outside of insurance coverage, including Medicare and Medicaid.

However, I take on two pro bono clients every year as well as additional reduced payment cases, so please do contact me even if what you can afford is far lower than my regular cost.

I firmly believe that all should have access to end-of-life doula services, regardless of income or economic standing.

Are you associated with any religious groups?

No. I am an independent provider and will not work through a pre-set religious framework. I am Christian myself but any spiritual and religious beliefs (or absence of) are respected in the work we do together. I look forward to learning about and incorporating your beliefs in your process. I am comfortable leading prayer if the client chooses that. If you woud like a minister or faith leader to visit, I can assist in arranging a visit..

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