The Truth About Death Doulas

In July 2020, Benjamin Keough, son to Lisa Marie Presley and Danny Keough and the grandson of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, passed away at the age of 27. In March 2021, Benjamin’s sister Riley Keough shared on Instagram that she completed death doula training.

Her post included a text image of a Rumi quote, which said, “Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.” In the caption, Riley stated that she completed her training on The Art of Death Midwifery by Sacred Crossings.

“We are taught that its a morbid subject to talk about. Or were so afraid of it that we’re unable to talk about it… then of course it happens to us, and we are very ill prepared,” Riley wrote. “I think it’s so important to be educated on conscious dying and death the way we educate ourselves on birth and conscious birthing. We prepare ourselves so rigorously for the entrance and have no preparation for our exit. So I’m so grateful for this community and to be able to contribute what I can.”

Death doulas help with the end-of-life process

According to USA Today, death doulas help people at the end of life, just as birth doulas help at the beginning. They assist patients with terminal diagnoses and/or their family members by visiting, working on legacy projects, completing wills, and more.

Janie Rakow, president of the International End of Life Doula Association, explained, “We journey with the person who’s dying and their family to help them navigate through the whole end-of-life process.”

They may also go over the ideal death with patients, as well as explain the signs of death to loved ones. End-of-life doula Donna Baker told USA Today, “There’s a gap in what hospice can offer … (people) need emotional support, they need spiritual support, they need guidance to what the end looks like.”

While many utilize hospice for end-of-life care, Rakow also noted that this option is like an adjunct to that, providing “emotional, spiritual, and physical support.”

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