End-of-life Doulas (EOLDs) provide non-medical, holistic support and comfort to the dying and their beloveds and families, which may include education and guidance as well as emotional, spiritual and practical care, from as early as initial diagnosis through bereavement (from National End-of-Life Doula Alliance-NEDA). End-of-life Doulas are a bridge between hospice and the medical team. EOLDs fill the gaps, collaborate and don’t usurp the hospice and medical roles.
Jess works with a small collective, Heart in Hands, LLC, with 2 other EOLDs in offering support and services to the dying and their families in Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor Michigan area. The three met at their EOLD training in November of 2016 through Lifespan Doulas under Merilynne Rush and Patty Brennan.
The collective provides a holistic approach to end-of-life and after-death care. They educate, empower and support the dying and their loved ones. Because of their extensive training and experience, the collective is able to offer a skilled, unique and professional experience to those looking for an End-of-Life Doula.
Meet the Collective
Robin Bow (pictured left)
Robin Bow is a Registered Nurse with 26 years of patient care experience, Robin has worked as a Hospice Case Manager for 12 yrs. and a Nursing Assistant for 14 yrs. Robin owned and operated a Non-Medical Home Care business, she is a Reiki Practitioner and EOLD. Robin has a true passion for End-of-Life care and making sure dying patients/families get the support and caring that they need at such a crucial time.
Jess is a Certified EOLD through Lifespan Doulas and is a member and holds the proficiency badge with the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance (NEDA), is also a member of the National Home Funeral Alliance (NHFA) and the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath and Death where Jess has studied extensively this past year with Amy Wright Glenn. Jess is trained in Final Touch Technique (trademarked) and is a hospice volunteer massage therapist. Jess’s intention as an EOLD is to hold space for a meaningful, supported and comfortable death for the dying, their beloveds, and families
Toula Saratsis (pictured right)
Toula’s mission is to assist clients and their families by providing services that promote well-being for end of life and after death care. Her daughter who had a life-limiting condition and lived fully with purpose is the inspiration for why Toula is an End-of Life-Doula (EOLD) and Home Funeral Guide. In 2016, she completed End-of-life Doula and home funeral training through Lifespan Doulas. Serving as a National End-of-Life Doula Alliance( NEDA) Proficient EOLD, being a National Home Funeral Association (NHFA) and Lifespan Doulas member affirms her commitment to ongoing professional development. She is also a member of the Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition of MI and parent advisor volunteer at a local children's hospital. Toula is committed to supporting and guiding clients to maintain hope and dignity during the dying process and achieve a meaningful final rite of passage.
As a collective we offer a number of services of support including but not limited to:
Observing COVID-19 safety protocols-some of these services may not be available at the moment.
Initial consultations which will consist of an intake interview (complementary, 30-90 minute via phone, zoom, and in-person when safe)
End-of-life decision making-advanced care planning, education around funeral and burial options, memorial/ceremony ritual creation, referrals to power of attorney for finances and will/estate
Coordination of care
Respite for caregiver
Comfort measures for the dying including but not limited to: Reiki/comfort touch massage, creating a soothing and peaceful environment, reading, playing music, guided visualization, aromatherapy, breath work, life-review/legacy projects
Holding vigil-help organize and participate in holding space during final days/hours
Education and information
Mediation and advocacy-with family, as well as, serving as a liaison with the medical personnel, hospice team, staff at care facilities, funeral home etc
Emotional support-for caregivers and the dying
After Death Care-assistance with/guidance with the body immediately following death, preparations for a home funeral, if desired, helping with funeral arrangements, creating and officiating the funeral ceremony, implementing religious and spiritual ritual important to the family, Bereavement support,and will always make referrals to community resources whenever possible
Community Education and informational presentations
Please inquire with Jess about your unique needs for EOLD services, as well as availability and your investment for working with the collective and their services. *The collective will never turn anyone away for lack of funds. Thank you for your interest.
Additional end-of-life services with Jess:
Final Touch Technique™
This offering is for those who are in all stages of dying and for those looking for and needing massage/comfort touch that is gentle and skilled. This technique is great for frail and compromised bodies. Jess’s teachers for FTT would often talk about “having a strong back and soft heart”. This is that kind of work. Jess is there to make this part of the journey just a small bit better. In these sessions nothing is trying to be fixed or healed, space is held for comfort, touch and the beautiful unfolding of the death mystery. “We don’t try and solve the mystery, we live in the mystery (FTT teachers)”. Jess finds this work to be the most humbling of all her offerings. To sit bedside and share comfort touch as someone winds their way to death is an honor of the utmost. These times are calm, quiet and peaceful, like a prayer., These sessions are mobile, I do not bring a massage table, they are done either in a bed, on a couch or in a comfy chair, wherever the dying is most comfortable. Along with the regular rate, there is a mileage fee.
Holding Space for Grief Massage and bodywork sessions:
“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If I carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.” Francis Ward Weller
No matter if you are experiencing a recent loss or a loss many moons ago, grief has no time-line. We all feel and live through grief at points in our lives. Grief lives within us, it is how we move through it that matters.
Grief is overwhelming and taxes our body systems. Grief impacts our nervous system, especially our sympathetic nervous system. Grief can cause tight muscles and limited range of motion (ROM) in our joints. We may feel fragmented, disengaged and lack vitality for life. Deep sadness overwhelms us and impacts our body and soul. These Holding Space for Grief sessions are to welcome integration, groundedness, and balance to the bereaved, to offer safety and feelings of being sheltered and held. In these sessions, I meet you where you are at.
These sessions are quiet, peaceful, gentle and lovingly supportive. These are not counseling sessions. Through my intuition and the use of various massage and bodywork modalities and essential oils (optional but encouraged), I listen to your body and your grief in guiding the way toward greater peace and integration.