5 reasons why every doula should strengthen their bereavement support skills

Not every doula should become a bereavement doula.

But you should strengthen your bereavement support skills anyway.

Here are five reasons why:

  1. You’re going to support families through bereavement, whether you want to or not. If you do this work long enough, you are going to encounter miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss. For some of us, it’s at our first birth. For others, it’s our one hundredth birth. But perinatal loss is the reality that many families face, so as a doula, it’s only a matter of time before you will face it as well.
  2. If you’re going to provide bereavement support, it’s important to do it well. We can do a lot of damage when we guess or pretend we know things. That’s true in any support role; it may be especially true when we support someone through grief.
  3. Families who have experienced a loss previously may be looking for a doula – and you can demonstrate your commitment to them and other loss families through your grief-informed practice. Families expecting after a loss may specifically seek someone who has an idea of what they’ve gone through – and is ready and willing to help them with the emotions, difficulties, and joys of a rainbow pregnancy.
  4. You’re most ready to support a family through a loss or after a loss if you’ve prepared for it. That means that ideally we all strengthen our bereavement skills BEFORE we need them. Level up your grief defaults by taking a Basics of Bereavement Support class, or a Caring for Clients through Loss class, BEFORE you need to have already taken it. (These are accredited for continuing education hours through DONA International, so they can also help you prepare for recertification.)
  5. Bereavement support skills apply in any situation of loss, not just the loss of a little one. If someone has a kind of birth they didn’t want, or loses a loved one or coworker during pregnancy, or experiences a life change they weren’t expecting, your bereavement support skills will be immediately applicable and helpful.

Don’t delay on strengthening your instincts and expanding your toolkit. Join us in one of our HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula trainings, or sign up for free tips through our newsletter, today.

Talking about loss on social media

As a birthworker, you know that social media is an important part of reaching folks and letting them know what you’re about. But you also know that creating content is a long and tiring process, especially when the content matter is sensitive.

Grief and loss are some of the hardest topics to talk about, especially in spaces such as social media. But, if you want to demonstrate your support of loss families, grief and loss *need* to show up somewhere on your grid or in your feed.

I’ve made two sets of templates to help you post about these difficult but necessary topics. The 2024 Social Media Template includes 34 posts for specific days, weeks, and months throughout the year (all of which can be simply updated with new dates and used again for future years). The October Social Media Template includes 31 posts, one for each day of October (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month).

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.

Mentorship opportunities

You’re not in this alone.

Whether you’re working toward an HCBD Haven Certified Bereavement Doula certification or not, our team is here to support you.

Looking for support with a bereavement case right now?

Let’s chat. This free, 15-minute consultation is designed to get you connected to the info and resources you need.

Considering taking your bereavement work to the next level?

Book a mentorship call with Dr. Jorgensen, or four calls, and we’ll work through your specific challenges together.