Archive for July, 2018

There is a concept from ancient Greek called “Doula.” According to Wikipedia,  “a doula is a non-medical person who stays with and assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, to provide emotional support and physical help if needed. They also may provide support to the mother’s partner and family. A doula is also known as a birth companion, birth coach or post-birth supporter.”

In the US, a man named Henry Fersko-Weiss is practising doula for the dying. Henry does the same things as the birth companion, providing emotional, physical and psychological support, except his patients are facing the end of their lives. He calls it “the end of life doula”.

Henry worked at a hospice as a social worker, and it was there that he witnessed events that would change his life.

It was then working as a hospice social worker that I began to see there were gaps in the kinds of service and care . . . I felt that too many people that I was seeing dying were dying in the ways that they hadn’t wanted to. For example, going into the hospital when they had always wanted to die at home.

One particular incident upset Henry so much that he began to contemplate other ways of approaching death. An 86-year old WWII veteran named Sam who had been under the care of his 88-year old sister died alone and unattended in a hospital room.

To die in a hospital room like that, unattended, unnoticed . . . to me it is just a tragedy.

With the help of a friend, Henry first went for training as a birth doula. Later on, he began to adapt the same skills he had acquired to comforting the dying.

In the conversations we have before somebody is actively dying . . . or the labouring process of death, we try to talk about not only how the atmosphere would be in the last days and how we can make it more meaningful or more comfortable for the dying person and family, but focus also on talking on the meaning of the person’s life . . . and then talking about doing some kind of a legacy project that would allow them to leave behind something that would help their family and friends reconnect with them in some kind of a deep way, not in a casual way . . . and perhaps even inspire future generations in the family.

We are not judging the mistakes they may have made. We are there to really listen to what they have to say about their own lives, and perhaps help them to see it with a little bit different perspective or to see pieces that still seem to be hanging unfinished . . . how they might still address that.

Henry now trains people in the United States and he has helped thousands of people in their last moments.

Henry’s wonderful story can be found here.

Henry Fersko-Weiss


This is the 16th celebration of the WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST #WATWB which is carried out every last Friday of the month, and which aims to spread love and positiveness in this vulnerable world. A celebration of heroes who can still restore our faith in humanity, especially in this period when our world seems to be full of endless series of horrible happenings.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Belind Witzenhausen, Inderpreet UppalSylvia McGrathRoshan Radhakrishnan, and myself.


To sign up for We Are The World Blogfest, please see the guidelines below.


  1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news  about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List