Why you should – or should not – become an HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula

Do not become an HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula if:

  • You want to coach, direct, or lead people through their grief. As HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doulas, we follow the best practices of grief work and take a companioning approach to grief.
  • You are not yet a doula and are planning to take only expected live birth doula clients. This course will not focus on such births other than in the context of anticipated infant loss and, frankly, will therefore not prepare you very well.
    • Haven Bereavement Doulas does offer trainings for expected live birth doulas who want to strengthen their loss support skills but are not planning to specialize in bereavement support. Look into our 3-hour Caring for Clients through Loss training.
  • You want a certification or credential solely for use with insurance companies. As many insurance companies still do not provide benefits to families who experience a loss, especially before viability, pursuing insurance accreditation is not currently our primary goal.

If these descriptions don’t apply to you, read on:

  • Join us if you’re passionate about making the world a more supportive place for loss families.
  • If you’re already a doula, strengthen your skills through our training if you want to level up your support for doula clients, incorporating bereavement support as a specialization.
  • Use our comprehensive training to prepare yourself to take on the roles of both a birthworker and a griefworker, if you are not currently a doula but you want to become exclusively a bereavement doula.

Check out our How To page for more information about taking your next steps toward becoming an HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula.

The HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula Reading List

Like many other doula certification programs, ours has a reading list. We provide it here so that everyone who is looking for resources on bereavement support can engage with them, whether you’re currently part of our program or not!

Find this list at the St. Louis Public Library here.

Category 1: Birth Education

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. Candidates who have already read The Birth Partner are encouraged to revisit it, through re-reading or through skimming, and consider how the material can be reinterpreted specifically for bereavement births.

Category 2: Grief Education

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read Counseling Skills for Companioning the Mourner by Dr. Alan Wolfelt.

Category 3: Cultural Competency – Race

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read What God is Honored Here? Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color, an anthology edited by Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang.

Category 4: Cultural Competency – Spirituality

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates choose one of the following books to read for certification:

Category 5: History of Birth/Loss Support

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read a book specific to the history of loss in their current context (i.e., most U.S.-based candidates read The Myth of the Perfect Pregnancy: A History of Miscarriage in America by Lara Freidenfelds).

Category 6: Children’s Books

Children’s books can be powerful tools, both for children and adults. HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates choose any two of these children’s books to review.

Category 7: Business Strategy and Ethics

HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula candidates read “The Bereavement Doula’s Business Manual” by Dr. Abby Jorgensen. This is available to candidates at no extra cost.

What does it mean to be grief-informed?

“Grief-informed” is a term I use to capture two key elements of
someone’s approach toward other people.

(1) This person anticipates that every person in her or his care may have a history of grief and loss.

(2) This person chooses to speak and act in a way that reflects that possibility of grief and loss.

It can also be applied to an organization’s or group’s approach.

Being grief-informed may require a dramatic overhaul for many of us, as society has taught us to ignore, hide, or shy away from conversations about death (especially the death of a child and prenatal death). And at Haven Bereavement Doulas, we are committed to working together to continue that dramatic overhaul, for ourselves and for our communities.

To cite this page, please reference:

Jorgensen, Abigail. “What does it mean to be grief-informed?”. Bereavement Doulas (blog). January 12, 2024.