Julie Kaye, Ellen Roberts, Jessica Abbott, and Suzanne Slesar are proud to announce the launch of End of Life Doulas VT, a cooperative of graduates from the UVM End of Life Doula Professional Certificate program. All of us look forward to the continued growth of our cooperative so that we can best serve our clients and their families throughout central and northern Vermont. 

The impetus for our cooperative happened earlier this year when we decided that we could offer more together than we could individually. We realized that we could support one another and blend our recent training with our own unique life experiences and areas of expertise.  All of us share a common bond: an unwavering commitment to providing professional, compassionate end-of-life support and educating the community-at-large about the services we offer to help clients and their families during this stressful time. 

As a cooperative, we will not only share the passion of this important work with each other, but also more effectively deal with the myriad challenges in educating our friends, neighbors, and broader community about the role of end-of-life doulas during this challenging and often introspective period of life.  As a cooperative, we will also be able to improve the delivery of services by ensuring continuity through back-up support when needed for our ongoing doula commitments. We’ve already experienced the synergy of a cooperative venture in sharing our knowledge and resources to educate the community and in honing our own skills.

Each of us brings unique life experiences to this profession that, while still in its nascent stages, is growing by leaps and bounds as we, as a community, are understanding the benefits of promoting open, transparent discussions about death and the dying process. Our varied experiences from which we draw include working as elder care providers in nursing homes and memory care facilities, supporting new moms-to-be as a birth doula, and our own personal experiences in interacting with the dying and their families. Our  cooperative, by blending our collective skills, will be able to offer a broader array of offerings and complementary services to our clients— everything from aromatherapy, meditation, and yoga to reiki, music, and energy work.

Launching any small business is a challenge, especially in end-of-life doula work, which is still not well known in the community. We are fortunate that one of our doulas is a marketing professional and website developer with years of experience. She helped us with a smooth and speedy business launch along with a beautiful online presence. 

Unfortunately, for far too long, the death process has been cloaked in secrecy and has been a subject that, for many of us, is still uncomfortable to talk about even though it is one that all of us, at one time or another, will eventually face. Plans are already underway for community presentations and workshops to open the conversation about death and help people begin the much-needed conversation. The best reward for a good life is a good death. 

As our work continues to become recognized and more known and accepted among the medical community and the general population, we hope to add more UVM grads to our team of doulas.