Maureen L. Yarbrough, Certified End of Life Doula (CEOLD) from Quality of Life Care
Helping the dying and their loved ones has been a passion of mine since 2010.
I began my journey with my dad, which is when I was first introduced to hospice. My brother, Sean, passed suddenly in May of 2010 shortly after turning 44 years old. So, it isn’t too much of a surprise to me today that I was in denial through my dad’s fight with cancer. He had beaten it the year before so I thought for certain he’d conquer it again. It wasn’t until late August of that year that it hit me hard that my dad was dying. I ran to my local hospice at the suggestion of a dear friend, and there a lovely bereavement counselor spent some time with me helping me through my mini breakdown of awakening to the realization that he would not be of this world much longer. I fell in love with the Love of all the hospice employees that I encountered through the experience of dads transitioning. I knew that I wanted to be a part of the unity & compassion these hospice employees and volunteers radiated.
My dad died holding my hand in the early morning of September 28th. I signed up to volunteer with my local hospice a month later. Of course, I was not able to have direct patient care for a year, so I worked the reception desk of the patient care center. This gave me access to the family and friends of the patients and the opportunity to be a conduit of love and support for them. As soon as my first year was completed I moved over to seeing patients in the hospice patient care center, of course, continuing my journey with their loved ones as well. I have been involved with hospice direct patient care ever since.
My day job has been as a medical practice manager. I was offered my first position at the age of 21 in an upper east side ophthalmic practice which I started on a part-time basis while attending Hunter College (CUNY) which was practically across the street. I majored in liberal arts and minored in religion. I had not a clue what I wanted to do with my life back then. I continued my journey in medical practice management.
Once I realized my calling to work with the dying/ill beginning in 2010, I began a search for positions that described what I was seeking. I did find some “Death Mid-Wives” in the UK and started following them. However, I found nothing local or even online until 2018 when the word “doula” came across my laptop in my searching. I had never heard of a doula before then. A whole new world opened to me. It was important for me to seek Certification in this work as it would not be fair to those I served if I was not educated, nor if I failed to continue with education. So began my journey with Quality of Life and the amazing Deanna Cochran. https://www.qualityoflifecare.com/public-library.html
In 2013 I obtained my ordination. I am a certified minister. I have officiated many funeral services of different denominations and utilized my license in assisting the loved ones of the deceased in this way, too, which has been extremely rewarding. I am non-denominational; however, I am continuing to learn the practices of many religions so am open to what it is that the family/loved one’s wish for – desire. It’s all about the Love and certainly not my preconceived notions of how things should be.
My hospice volunteer work continues. I find that doula work is complimentary to hospice. A doula is an advocate to the dying. A doula brings all things together, can assist in creating a legacy, helps to ask and find answers to questions you are not able to ask. As an independent doula, I am present to what opens, I can organize a bedside vigil, I can assist with the dying’s wishes around aromatherapy, guided visualizations, meditation, strategies to relieve overburdened loved ones, helping all process their grief around what is occurring pre-& post death. A doula is often required before active dying begins and can be very beneficial to anyone moving through a major debilitating illness. I have receive my certification as an End of Life Doula with Quality of Life
I would like to add here that if you are over the age of 18 and do not have an advanced directive, please write one out. You don’t need a doula for that. Here is a link to the requirements by state and more information: http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3289
My intention is to also become a certified mediator and a notary. From there…who knows? It is my desire to the best End-of-Life/Death Doula that I can be…to be a conduit of love and support to all who cross my path…to walk alongside anyone who desires for me to accompany them on their journey.