By Chris Haring

A former registered nurse in Northeast Ohio aims to expand compassionate and essential end-of-life care by training others via her new Death Doula School.

One Northeast Ohio woman, inspired by her desire to support people considering their end-of-life options and preparing to navigate life’s final journey, has begun to teach others how to help fill that void.

Kacie Gikonyo, a dedicated death doula, says her innate calling to serve in this capacity, along with increased interest from the public, has led her to establish a Death Doula School.

For Gikonyo – whose background includes over a decade working as a Registered Nurse – it’s about helping patients by “remov[ing] stress and chaos and organiz[ing] their critical next steps in their end-of-life plan,” she says. 

As the need for end-of-life care grows, so has interest in the field

As ABC News 5 Cleveland recently reported, her practice has grown since the station first aired a piece about her work in January 2023. Now, Gikonyo says, she wants to equip others to follow in her footsteps with the necessary tools and knowledge to provide essential end-of-life care. 

With over 40 hours of comprehensive education, the program covers topics essential for aspiring independent death doulas. From understanding the intricacies of medical aid in dying to navigating the challenges of self-employment, each module aims to prepare students for the profound responsibilities of caring for a patient at the end of their life.

Meanwhile, she emphasizes the demanding nature of the role of a death doula to prospective students. It requires resilience, empathy, and a steadfast commitment to serving others during their most vulnerable moments.

Talking about end-of-life options is a crucial first step in preparing for death

In a society increasingly recognizing the importance of end-of-life options and the right to die with dignity, initiatives like Kacie Gikonyo’s Death Doula School exist due to a growing willingness to talk about death. 

Last year, we wrote about death doulas for National Grief Awareness Day. Learn more about a death doula’s role in end-of-life care and how to request them on our blog here.