A West Sussex-based soul doula on encouraging people to talk positively about death, dying and grief | Vicky Meets

Vicky Edwards meets soul doula Alison Wright
Soul doula Alison WrightSoul doula Alison Wright
Soul doula Alison Wright

​What is a soul doula? A soul doula (also known as a death doula or soul midwife) is a professionally trained therapist who supports the terminally ill and dying; emotionally, spiritually and holistically. Death is a natural and important part of life, just as birth is.

We generally work alongside medical care teams, but our role is to serve and honour the needs of the dying person and their personal belief system – or not, as the case may be. ​We also support the families, as we have a deep understanding of the dying ‘process’. Offering that extra element of support means that the end of life experience is more likely to be positive.

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How did you come to the role? I can only describe it as a ‘calling’. I believe it started 33 years ago, when my father died of cancer. It was a very traumatic experience to witness. I was 25 and an only child. I couldn’t understand what was happening as he began his dying journey. Why would I? No one talked about it or explained it to my mum and I – death just wasn’t talked about back then.

So, although my dad had wonderful clinical care, there was something much deeper; more spiritual and calming that was missing. After dad died, mum and I spoke in depth about it and made conscious decisions about our own death/ death plans.

When mum died of cancer 11 years later, the entire experience, from diagnosis to death, was profoundly different. What I did for my mum during her dying journey was a small part of what I do now as a professional soul doula.

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Are soul doulas becoming widely recognised? Soul doulas are recognised and used in the USA, Canada and Australia, but nowhere near enough in the UK, possibly because of our reluctance to talk openly about end of life.

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The more we understand the dying process then the less fear we have of it. I would love for there to be millions of us across the globe. We all deserve a good death and the support of a doula.

Do you find your work upsetting? It’s always very sad when anyone dies, but I deeply understand that it is part of life, so I am at peace with it. I take time out after any death to grieve for that person and their loved ones. You have to set strict self-care boundaries too. If you don’t, you can’t hold space fully and wholeheartedly for the dying person and their family.

You are part of the Coffin & Cake grief café. What is this? We encourage people to talk positively about death, dying and grief and we offer support to those currently in grief. Our first event was really well received. Free of charge, our next café is on Saturday, March 18 at 5pm at Pinks Ice Cream Parlour in Bognor Regis.

Where can we find out more? Email me at [email protected]; Instagram: adieudoula_reiki2023

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To book for Coffin & Cake, email me or call 07771 890854