Fanshawe’s doula students visit Mount Pleasant Cemetery

A photo of students and faculty from the doula studies program at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. CREDIT: KONSTANTINOS DROSSOS
Fanshawe students Audrey Muise and Jessica McDella (right) alongside instructors Christal Malone and Jodi Hall (left) from the doula studies program attended a seminar at Mount Pleasant Cemetery given by Peggy Bloomfield (middle).

Students from Fanshawe’s doula studies program visited Mount Pleasant Cemetery to learn about how to help new parents, grieving families during loss, and patients in palliative care.

“This is an annual opportunity for us to engage with Mount Pleasant, our community partner, and our visit here today marks our fourth in person as we’ve met during COVID two times virtually for this opportunity,” said professor Jodi Hall, who teaches in the doula studies program.

Students participated in a seminar given by Peggie Bloomfield, London’s first fully licensed female funeral director, who shared what led her to begin working in the funeral industry. The talk also included stories about her experiences working in the field and different processes families go through at different stages of the pregnancy cycle.

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“I’ve noticed a lot of other students have a lot of hesitancy around the topic of loss and grief and I’m comfortable with those topics, so I think it’s important that those of us who are can take these opportunities to learn how to hold more space for people so that this can be a more comfortable topic for everyone,” said Jessica McDella, a student in the doula studies program.

A very sensitive topic, like death, can be a difficult time when it comes to helping others heal from dealing with the hardships it can cause in someone’s life. Opportunities to learn from industry professionals can help give insight and the necessary tools to help students out once they move on into the actual workspace.

“I came to the doula studies program with a bachelor’s in social work, so I find it very interesting how social work and doula work together,” said Aubrey Muise, another one of the students.

Muise described the visit as being both beneficial as a learning experience and also shared a personal connection.

“I’ve always wanted to support people through pregnancy, birth and postpartum,” said Muise. “I’ve taken a lot of experiences from this, gotten a lot of community connections and just learned how to also prioritize myself in this way.”

The second part of the visit consisted of talking about the topic of cremation and the process of how it is done. The group then got to tour the crematorium to get an in-depth look at the cremation furnaces and cold storage.

“We hope that our students take away an appreciation for the connection of first breath to end of life because our doulas accompany individuals and families through reproductive options and outcomes. We are aware that they also may encounter stillbirth, death and loss and so we want our students to appreciate the community services that intersect with their work,” said Hall.

The visit also ties into an event called Doing Deathcare Differently, which is being organized and hosted at the college. The students will be showcasing their final projects discussing the various roles of end-of-life doulas and their roles in palliative care.

The event will take place in Fanshawe’s Innovation Village on March 28 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Canada Life Village Square.