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Briget Kelly

EOL doula stories

8 December 2021

I had a strong feeling that I could make things better

Name: Briget Kelly
Business: Rhiannon’s Service
Website: www.facebook.com/Rhian.Service
Location:
Adelaide, South Australia

Topics: EOL doula, Funeral Celebrant, Diversional Therapist

I had a strong feeling that I could make things better

Back in 2019 I began to think about how the average Australian and our society manages the very natural process of death and dying, and I had a strong feeling that I could make things better. Over that year, while I was supporting my sister with an advanced cancer diagnosis, three family members died; and unfortunately, I was unable to be present or provide practical support around the time of their passing. I sensed that had I not been interstate, I could have made a real difference to my relatives’ end of life experience.

I would have been an advocate and interpreter when there was poor communication and education about palliative care and pain relief. And I would have proactively supported the family carers who were under a lot of pressure. I could have arranged for important documents and plans to be prepared; and been a good person to talk with about any aspect of death and dying – because there are times those conversations need to happen for all of us.

I was asked to write and present the eulogy at my uncle’s memorial service, and it was a wonderful way for me to commemorate him. Attending three funerals in one year also made me think about how I would like to be celebrated and farewelled in a meaningful way. And a year later, I was honoured to be the funeral celebrant at a ceremony for my friend’s dad.

I approach death and dying with honesty and sensitivity. I’ve lived through diagnosis and treatment for cancer, so I’ve thought a lot about my own mortality. Having also experienced chronic life-changing illness, I understand the impact that health conditions and treatments, both Western and alternative, have on daily life. And right now, I’m working through the challenges of the aged care system while I support my dad to remain at home.

Much of my previous employment has involved supporting people to achieve a good quality of life. And I have a qualification in Leisure & Health – sometimes called Diversional, or Social & Recreational Therapy. I am motivated to help people to improve, develop or maintain a good quality of life at the times when life is most challenging – often because of illness, ageing, or change in home or lifestyle.

When I did my End of Life Doula Foundation Workshop with Helen last year I had an overwhelming feeling of reassurance – I knew that I was on the right personal and professional path. Since then, whenever I undertake work or study activities, I feel a deep sense of validation and fulfilment. The Foundation Workshop and Intensive Course provided great learning and insights, and also strengthened my self-awareness. I am confident that my skills and experience serve as a unique gift that can benefit others, and I know that I can make a positive difference to people’s experience of living and dying.

I have felt a calling to support people during difficult or transitional times, and it feels so natural to combine the three roles of End of Life Doula, Funeral Celebrant and Diversional Therapist into a business. I value diversity, celebration, quality of life and freedom of choice. And my vision for Rhiannon’s Service is loving kindness, an empathetic ear and practical, personalised solutions to support and empower people when they need it most.

Name: Briget Kelly
Business:
Rhiannon’s Service
Website: www.facebook.com/Rhian.Service
Location:
Adelaide, South Australia

Kirrilley Moelker

EOL doula stories

8 November 2021

Finding my passion as an end of life doula

Name: Kirrilley Moelker
Business: Emergent Living Coaching
Website: www.facebook.com/emergentlivingcoaching
Location: Forster-Tuncurry, NSW

Topics: EOL doula, Melanoma, Life limiting illness

Finding my passion as an end of life doula

My name is Kirrilley Moelker and I have been a passionate and professional end of life doula since 2020 after completing Helen Callanan’s Preparing the Way Foundation workshop, and then the EOL Intensive training course.

As an end of life doula, I feel I offer a very special and unique service to people. I have the honour of working closely with people who have a life limiting illness, are nearing the end of their life, or have experienced a sudden death.

I am no stranger to end of life issues. I have worked as a Registered Nurse for the last 22 years, a Paramedic for the last 10 years, and in many other diverse health support roles in between. I cared for my husband who had been diagnosed with Melanoma, then Metastatic Melanoma and then died in 2006 after a 3 year illness with the disease, he was 28.

I witnessed firsthand the realities of a life limiting diagnosis, and the many issues a person and their carer experiences from initial diagnosis to grief and bereavement. Finding my passion as an end of life doula has truly spoken to the heart of my personal and professional purpose. I am currently providing end of life doula services within Local Government and privately, in particular assisting an organisation to meet their requirements under the new Aged Care Standards and working with clients to complete their Advance Care Planning.

As part of this process, I value the often deep and difficult conversations and decisions I have the privilege of being a part of and witnessing with my clients and their carers and being a comforting and practical companion at the end of life and in the death and dying process.

​I have found in my experiences that most people in the full flight of their lives, never give a passing thought to their own mortality, death and dying, however those diagnosed with a life limiting illness or disease find themselves with these thoughts at the forefront of their minds. It has been my privilege to walk alongside these clients and their carers, and to be a comforting and practical, non clinical champion for them.

I specialise in assisting clients and their carers to navigate the issues a person experiences as they approach the end of their life, and through death, these issues may include, but are not limited to…

Advance Care Planning & Enduring Guardian Information & Assistance with Documentation

Wills & POA Information for Professional Referral

Navigating the Medical System

Coordinating Complementary Therapies as appropriate

Advocacy and Education

Spiritual Support

Carer Support

Facilitating Relationships

Assisting clients to create memories and legacies

Assistance with making Funeral Plans and living wakes

Death Education,

Home Based Death Information & Assistance with Planning

Sudden Death Support

Care of the Body after Death Information & Assistance with Planning

Pastoral Care Support

I essentially provide education, comfort, care, compassion and support people of all ages to honour their own beliefs, and to fulfil their end of life needs and desires, as they approach their death through a path of personal empowerment.

Name: Kirrilley Moelker
Business: Emergent Living Coaching
Website: www.facebook.com/emergentlivingcoaching
Location: Forster-Tuncurry, NSW

Karyn Steele

EOL doula stories

6 November 2021

Why did I choose to become an end of life doula? 

Name: Karyn Steele
Business: Take Time To Prepare
Website: www.taketimetoprepare.com.au
Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD

Topics: Death, EOL doula, Motivation, Courage

Why did I choose to become an end of life doula?

In 2014 my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma which came as a shock and at the time we had so many questions. How wasn’t this picked up earlier? Why? Is there treatment? Having to get his Will and Health directive set up right away. What can I do? Will I cope? How do we tell others and keep them up to date and when do we share information?

My husband’s journey was very quick. He was given 12mths and died 10mths later. However, I have to say we ran with life as fast as we could. Perhaps running from the melanoma, travelling to India, Thailand and New Zealand seeing family and friends. Making final memories and most importantly to my husband being seen as he wanted to be remembered not as a sick man.

He was fortunate enough to be offered Keytruda on trial at RBWH which was successful for a short time, however it couldn’t take full control as the melanoma was too far gone and he had 15 tumours on the brain and the melanoma was in his spinal fluid.

During this time, I focused on making his life as normal as possible. Asking how I could fill any final wishes. This is where he told me he had never done karaoke and also wanted to die at home. So I arranged a party where he got to karaoke and with the help of Blue Nurses asked how I could support him to be at home.

It was a testing time, though also fulfilling, bathing, feeding and administering his medication as required. Watching changes daily from dementia, to no appetite, getting thinner and weaker while I lay by his side sometimes in silence other times talking about our holidays and reminiscing.

Through this time, I thought to myself I want to help others and support them to have loved ones die at home. Allow people to remain partners, parents, siblings and not be carers, have those difficult conversations about death and dying. The importance of having a Will, Advance Health care directive, difference of a Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney and something dear to my heart sharing that you don’t have to phone and have the body taken away immediately but you can spend time at home saying good bye, talking to them, bathing them and allowing yourself to grieve. I will also take pride in having public gatherings Dying for a beverage to normalise death and dying where people can ask questions and share their experiences.

Since the death of my husband, I have trained as an End of Life Doula and an AIN so I can help others to accept dying and death are a part of life for all humans and pets.

Name: Karyn Steele
Business: Take Time To Prepare
Website: www.taketimetoprepare.com.au
Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD