Doula students showcase their ideas at deathcare event

A photo of doula professor Jodi Hall showing comunity stakeholders one of the doula students' deathcare projects. CREDIT: KONSTANTINOS DROSSOS
Jodi Hall (pictured right) helped organize the Doing Deathcare Differently event, which gives doula students the opportunity to design methods of coping with grief and death.

Fanshawe’s doula studies program held its annual project showcase called Doing Deathcare Differently, where groups of students presented a variety of coping methods aimed at helping people dealing with grief.

Doing Deathcare Differently was created to shine a light on the topic of deathcare and to generate conversation about death.

“The inspiration behind our event…is taking appraisal of the incredible work that already exists within our community,” said Jodi Hall, a doula professor and organizer of the event. “We thought about how we could contribute and widen the opportunities for people to engage in conversations around death, perhaps in ways that weren’t happening at the level of communities. So Doing Deathcare Differently is really about…death awareness and death education at a community level.”

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The event was held in the Canada Life Village Square in Innovation Village, decorated with candles in a dimly lit room. The students’ projects were lined up along the edge of the space, where they explained their ideas, research, and interactive displays of their coping methods.

“The great thing about this event is they all got to pick which ideas they wanted to do based on their interests,” said Christal Malone, a professor in the doula studies program.

Alongside the unique methods, the projects showcased the various responsibilities doulas are tasked with when dealing with different situations.

“We have ‘creating comfort,’ which links a lot to birth and postpartum work as well, because it’s about bringing comfort to people that are dying and so they’re using a lot of interprofessional skills that they learned as birth doulas,” Malone said, “We have things like comfort measures and labour, and we also have ‘sent it or shredded it’ letters, where people can write a letter to themselves about a death and can either shred it or send it.”

One stand showcased a telephone booth, where people could pick up the telephone and have a conversation with a loved one who had passed.

“The ‘wind phone,’ which was developed in Japan after the hurricane and the earthquakes…is a place for someone to go into a phone that’s not connected, pick it up and talk to their loved ones,” Malone said. “It’s a beautiful concept. So we built one for the people that are participating to examine.”

Another group of students showed an alternative for burials called Eco Death which highlighted the burial process and made it more sustainable for the environment.

“It shows our students the depth of their knowledge and their interests and their passion and bringing deathcare to the forefront,” Malone said. “And I think it highlights their organizational skills, their personability skills, and shows the community just how passionate we are of this with this stuff.”

Industry partners of the program were present at the showcase, interacting with each of the students’ projects, as well as engaging in conversations about their ideas and how they would apply them in the field.