The word “doula” comes from the Ancient Greek for “woman who serves.” Those of us who are called to this work truly understand it as a service calling, a desire to provide a specific type of help and assistance that can be difficult to find anywhere else.
We talk a great deal about the ways we serve; the things we do for the people we assist. But it is important to take time to also consider whom we serve. We serve our clients: end-of-life patients and their families. In addition to that, as doulas, we also work to serve the communities we are a part of, whether we are currently working with individual clients or not.
In our modern world, many of us can easily feel disconnected from our communities, or that community is something we are not really a part of. We are less likely than ever to be acquainted with our neighbors, and fewer people are choosing to be part of church communities. It is common to work long hours, sometimes at multiple jobs, making it less likely that we will go out regularly just to socialize. We just don’t spend as much face-to-face time with other people as we used to.
On the other hand, we do have the modern advantages of the internet, which allows us to communicate with loved ones who live far away, and to form friendships with people in other parts of the world. When you look at it a certain way, communities have not disappeared at all. They have simply evolved into something different.
Since you’re reading this, you already know that the internet has been hugely influential in the death positive movement, and end of life care and awareness. IDLM is a beautiful example of how the internet can help us build a community of like-minded people, spread far and wide all over the world. Live online classes allow our instructors to connect directly with students hundreds or thousands of miles away, and all of us are able to connect with each other through our community on the Movement.
In a way, it’s kind of a miracle that doulas in Texas and California can share information and experiences with doulas in Canada, Ireland, and the Virgin Islands, just at the touch of a button. But there is still something to be said for meeting face-to-face, and this coming year IDLM hopes to give everyone in the community the opportunity to do that as well. This November, IDLM will be holding its first Tree of Life Conference in San Antonio, Texas. This will not only be the first live conference held by IDLM, it will also mark the first in-person conference geared specifically toward death doulas and the work that we do. It is sure to be a very special experience, connecting a widespread community that is truly one of a kind.
Whether we are all in the same room, or connecting from opposite sides of the globe, we are grateful for every member of our IDLM community. Here’s hoping that as we move forward we can all continue to support one another at home, online, and in the communities that we serve.