When I was thinking about doing the Living Well Dying Well Doula Training Foundation course, there was little information I could find from people who had done the course. It wasn’t a big deal for me as I knew I wanted to do it anyway but I thought it might help others if I shared my experience.
As I live in Chichester I decided to do the course at Iford Village Hall, which is just a short distance from Lewes. Before the course you have to sign up and pay (obviously!) and complete a short questionnaire about your reasons for wanting to do the course and your feelings about death and dying. Signing up is a very simple process and the LWDW staff are very helpful.
Arriving on the first day I felt quite strange, it really was a step into the unknown! Iford Village hall has a well equipped kitchen so each day started with a very welcome cup of tea and a chance to meet or catch up with everyone else doing the course. On my course there were 17 people who had travelled from as far away as America to do the training. In the local area there are plenty of Airbnbs and hotels so the majority of people were staying nearby. The people on the course came from a huge range of backgrounds from carers and complimentary therapists to someone who just had an interest in the subject and wanted to explore it further.
The first part of the Foundation course is three days and in the course of the three days subjects covered included all sorts of topics from building trusting relationships and models of grief to exploring how our own beliefs could affect us in the Doula role. There is also factual information delivered on topics like Advanced Care Planning and physical changes that a dying person goes through. The training is delivered in a way which very much encourages everyone to explore both their own ideas but also to listen to those of others in the group. There is a lot of reflective work as well as time spent holding space – allowing people to say whatever they are thinking at the time without any discussion. This was a totally new experience for me and yet by the end of the Foundation course I was very comfortable with it.
Returning for the second part of the Doula training course, which ran for two days I was very excited to see everyone again as you do make good friends with the people you meet. We have a Facebook group set up now to communicate with each other. Part of our ‘homework’ for this part of the course was to research death and dying in another religion or culture so I had prepared a presentation on Mexican death traditions. We had a great afternoon on the first day watching each others presentations on a huge range of different approaches to death and some of the presentations were very hands on and interesting! As part of this section of the course, Carla from Arkana funerals came to talk about funeral arranging and alternatives to the traditional funerals which are available. Again lots of information was covered on all sorts of topics in a really well structured yet enjoyable and thought provoking manner.
The course was facilitated by Hermione Elliott who was assisted by Jacqui, a previous attendee on the course. Both were totally approachable and made the learning a pleasure.
As part of the End of Life Doula Training Foundation course you are expected to complete a portfolio of work based on structured questions about the information in the course. This seems a little daunting at first if like me it has been a little while since you were studying! All of the questions are covered on the course though and I would encourage you to make notes, take photos and ask questions as you go. You will be pleased you did when you come to doing your portfolio work. The portfolio has to be submitted around a month after the end of the course