As an End of Life Practitioner, I am highly trained in skills that involve providing practical, psychological, social, and spiritual support for the dying, their loved ones and caregivers. I am competent in advocating, end of life practices (vigil, companion, end of life rituals, and home death), my training, knowledge, skills, and presence needed to address the practical, psycho-social, and spiritual dynamic journey of dying.
A little more about my journey…
‘You have a broken back, broken wrist and a severed leg!’ In that moment everything changed. My life took a radical turn as I needed to re-evaluate life and re-organize my priorities. My little light, my daughter, needed me and it was because of her that I was able to push through my own pain and focus on living a good life.
Years of living a hard life had caught up with me and in the passage of time and experiences encountered, I discovered that it is from our greatest challenges that we are able to interact with others to honestly say, ‘Been there, done that.’ And yes, I’ve been there and done that!
Chronic pain is a constant, endometriosis is ongoing, infertility issues still haunt me and being a single mom is challenging in its own way. Yet, I’m a WARRIOR! I am also strong, passionate and live with a no fear attitude. I am accountable, independent and have a ton of love to offer. Considered strong willed, fun loving and playful, interacting with kids and youthful adults is a gift and a blessing.
As a professional I bring years of experience as a dental assistant, creating comfort and safety for those in need. In my own unique way I communicate, teach and advocate with a sense of light hearted humour. As an educator, facilitator and mentor, I support others in living and dying in a supportive and loving way.
I’m an empath, clairvoyant, healer and lightworker, knowing that life is meant to be lived until our very last breath. Whatever the age, from infancy to elder, I can meet you where you are, connect with you, and support you in living and in dying.
~ Janet O’Dell
- Certified Infant and Pregnancy Loss Support ~ Doula Canada ~ 2021
- Bloodborne Pathogens ~ Go Safety Compliance Centre ~2021
- Grief Work ~The Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death ~ 2021
- End of Life Doula ~ Douglas College ~ 2021
- Advanced Care Planning (Early Stages of Dementia) ~ BC Centre for Palliative Care ~ 2021
- Advanced Care Planning ~ CDC ~ 2021
- Home Funeral Workshop ~ CINDEA (Canadian Integrative Network for Death Education and Alternatives) ~ 2021
- My Grief Toolbox for Paramedics ~ Canadian Virtual Hospice ~ 2020
- Psychosocial and Spiritual Aspects of Palliative Care~ University of Colorado ~2020
- Psychological First Aid ~ Johns Hopkins University ~ 2020
- The Science of Well Being ~ Yale University ~ 2020
- Certified Dental Assistant (Retired) ~ Vancouver Island University ~ 2005
B.C. death doula’s mission is to transform how we think and talk about death
‘There is such a thing as a good death – if you plan for it’
“Everybody has the right to die a good death.”
When asked why she became a death doula, that was Janet O’Dell’s ‘in a nutshell’ response.
O’Dell, a longtime resident of Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley, traded in her dental assistant scrubs a few years ago, and returned to school, to pursue what she describes as a calling.
“It started with a little company (discovered online) called Doula Givers out of the USA and immediately thought ‘ah, that’s my calling – let’s see what Canada needs for requirements,’” said O’Dell. “So I took my course through Douglas College (in Vancouver). That was when I realized that I had been doing this for a whole long time – before I even knew what a death doula was.”
She recalls the death of a friend as being a catalyst for this career change.
“I had a friend that passed away from cancer about nine years ago, and I witnessed her not-so-good death. She wanted to stay at home to die, which was her choice. But her family was very little and she didn’t have much support, and it was quite a gruesome death. I never want to see that for another person. So that’s where my passion came out.
“There is such a thing as a good death – if you plan for it.”
O’Dell describes a death doula as “non-medical practitioners, who are trained and knowledgeable in supporting the dying, and their families, before, during and after death.”
Death doulas offer everything from advanced care planning, and end-of-life guidance, to grief support and home death/funeral arrangements.
“We meet with our clients and discuss everything, all the planning,” said O’Dell. “What are your wishes? What do you want (to be) done with your body? We talk about creating legacies… for families and loved ones left behind.”
In addition to preparation, death doulas offer emotional support for the dying.
“We will sit, support, listen. We are confidants,” said O’Dell. “I will meet them, joke with them, keep life in light, in a sense. We are companions. We are guiders. We will help families grieve, even at the time of the diagnosis – anticipatory grief.”
O’Dell acknowledges death is not an easy subject for many people. She wants to change that.
“My mission is to ‘flip the script’ and transform how we think and talk about death,” O’Dell said. “To encourage and empower others to speak about death. Being a death doula is an honour, it is fulfilling, it is my passion.
“You’re going to die… so plan for it.”
O’Dell’s company, Dynamic Journey, has been operating since May of this year. It is non-denominational.
“My philosophy is, as a death doula, I do not judge your choices, your actions, your desires, or your experience. I am here to support you in figuring out what makes sense for you; that may include decision-making, healing, processing, and more,” she said. “We can meet in public, at a park, or outside. We do Zoom meetings, phone calls, text messages – we are virtually everywhere.”
O’Dell said there has been a general surge in death doulas, and the pandemic is a major factor.
“What we are seeing, is the medical industry is stressed,” she said. “Health care workers, so many are taking leaves, or are burned out, or just retiring. We are in a crisis, and death doulas are filling in a void.”
My Philosophy: As a death doula, I do not judge your choices, your actions, your desires, or your experience. I am here to support you in figuring out what makes sense for you; that may include decision making, healing, processing, and more
“We’re All Just Walking Each Other Home” ~ Ram Dass