Taking the Haven Bereavement Doula Training as a Non-Doula

In this blog post, Haven Trained Bereavement Doula Julie McKay answers some questions about what it was like to take the Haven Bereavement Doula Training as someone who had not previously been a doula. We thank Julie for sharing her wisdom, and we hope it helps you discern whether this role is right for you!

What was it like, taking the Haven Bereavement Doula Training as someone new to the doula world? 

While I was taking the Haven Bereavement Doula training, I felt included in the training even though I am not a birth doula. I knew that my experience and input mattered as much as the seasoned doulas taking the training. At the same time, I was able to learn from the birth doulas about how to be a good doula. Their experience supporting clients and running successful doula businesses helped me think of aspects of being a doula that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. It was helpful to be in discussion groups with them, so I could hear their perspective on the different exercises. Abby also took the time to explain the more technical birth-related terms, so those of us who were not birth doulas could understand the examples and scenarios that we discussed during the training. As a result, I didn’t feel left behind or confused during the training.

What did you learn in the training? 

As part of the training, I was able to develop a better understanding of the various roles of a bereavement doula. Before I started the training, I didn’t know the concrete ways that a bereavement doula supports clients. Throughout the course of the training, we spent time learning about and discussing physical, emotional, informational, social, advocacy, philosophical, and spiritual support. I was able to think through what those different aspects of support would look like in various scenarios. In addition, I was able to reflect on what types of support would come more naturally to me and which ones would be more challenging.

During the training, I was able to think through how I would use self-care to support myself as a bereavement doula. I was surprised to learn how common doula burnout is. At the end of each training session, Abby asked us how we were going to take care of ourselves after the session ended. By hearing the other ideas that were shared, I was able to think of different ways I could support myself while being a doula. Even outside the training sessions, I reflected on how grief was showing up in my body, what I needed to process what I was learning, and how I could build support networks for myself.

Why did you decide to become a bereavement doula? 

I am a Creighton Model FertilityCare Practitioner which means that I teach women and couples how to chart their signs of fertility so they can avoid or achieve pregnancy and monitor their fertility. When I first started learning about grief work, I just wanted to know how to support my clients who had a history of perinatal loss or experienced a loss while working with me. While I had had a miscarriage myself, I knew that my own experience couldn’t teach me how to support every loss parent. I set out to learn more and realized along the way that I wanted to find other ways to support loss families. So I started co-facilitating Bereaved Parents Community Group. I’m not sure where this journey will take me, but I’m looking forward to further discerning what grief work will look like for me.

What advice do you have for non-doulas who are considering becoming a Haven Certified Bereavement Doula? 

Try not to feel intimidated by the process of becoming a bereavement doula. Take it one step at a time. Taking the Haven Bereavement Doula training was a very helpful step for me. Everyone, birth doulas and those new to doula work, is taking the training to learn how to better support loss families. Your input and insight matter, so don’t be afraid to share and ask questions. You will learn a great deal from Abby and from the other participants. Once you have completed the training, tackle the certification process piece by piece. Each part of the certification process will help you become a better bereavement doula and discern how you can serve loss families. 

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