Kayla Moryoussef has been studying end of life care and the grief process for years. She manages the programming for the Home Hospice Association’s Death Café, and last year she started her own practice, The Good Death Doula, wherein she helps people prepare end-of-life services as well as offering grief & bereavement counselling. Starting this month, Moryoussef is launching a weekly virtual grief space—it’s free and everyone is welcome.
The pandemic has forced all of us to think about mortality in new and different ways; many of us have lost loved ones in this period, and COVID-19 has prevented a proper goodbye. Humanity, in general, is in pain. Moryoussef wanted to create a welcoming space that allowed for people to process these feelings.
With grief still being a subject we, as a society, tiptoe around, we decided to ask Moryoussef straight up what being what she does and what people can expect if they join the virtual grief space.
What is a “Death Doula”? How would you describe the work that you do?
Birth Doulas serve people entering the world; Death Doulas serve those leaving.
The main functions are sitting vigils & offering respite to families and caregivers. There is a lot that goes into death planning—there are all the details of when someone is actively dying (who, what, when, where, smells, sights, tastes, and sounds) but I also work with people to discuss their legacy; what do you want to leave behind/how do you want to be remembered? There is a huge piece that starts at diagnosis (supported pre-grieving for the individual & loved ones), and grief continues long after death.
Why did you decide to start a virtual grief & mortality space?
So much grief is happening in our world. Big grief, new grief. We’re hurting as individuals; we’re hurting as humanity. With our ways to grieve and mourn being restricted, and our resources desperately being allocated elsewhere (rightfully so, re: pandemic & systemic racism) – there are few, if any real-time, accessible grief support resources available. I realized that I could do something about that; I may not understand each individual, and each community’s unique experiences, but I understand how to support, educate & empower people through grief, and I understand how to hold space. I also have the awareness to know when I *don’t know* and the commitment to listening, learning, and my continued education & development as a human being and grief worker.
What will happen at these events on Wednesday? What can people expect when they sign up?
They can expect a check-in and check-out with their grief/emotions each session—there will be a grief education component, professional support from me, as well as peer support. It’s a safe, confidential space to talk about grief experiences and get non-judgemental, compassionate, supportive feedback – with relevant, practical exercises to integrate into their daily lives to help effectively experience, process, and manage their unique grief journey.
The virtual grief & mortality space will be held Wednesdays (June – August), 7pm, EST. For more information, email Kayla at email@example.com.