The idea of how you would live out the end of your life is something most people don't plan for.
With Australians living longer, end of life doula Holly Stubbs is hoping to create greater conversation about dying on your terms.
An end of life doula is a non-medical, holistic practitioner trained to care for the dying and their loved ones, and can provide a broad range of services depending on the individuals' needs and wishes.
Ms Stubbs runs Launceston-based business Seeking Solace, providing emotional, physical, mental and spiritual support for those who are reaching the end of their life with a limiting illness.
Ms Stubbs began her business in April, after working in the health industry and learning about what happens when people reach end-of-life care.
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"I worked in a general practice and I was working on a research project that looked at chronic disease," Ms Stubbs said.
"I got to a section in the project that looked at end of life care and I noticed there was a gap in services and support.
"So after I completed that I went and did my doula and end of life training and got the qualifications to start running my own services."
Death is something that Ms Stubbs is familiar with, having had two loved ones close to her die, one from suicide and one from a terminal illness.
"Death has become a very isolated and medicalised event," Mrs Stubbs said.
"However between 70 and 80 per cent of people in Australia would like to die in the comfort of their own home, but only 14 per cent manage to do this.
"It is very taboo to talk about, and people shied away from it.
"As a society, we are so uncomfortable with death and dying that it is hard to be around it, so discomfort, distress and fear gets in the way of responding well."
With the demand for palliative care expected to increase by 135 per cent nationally by 2060, the way end of life care industry is changing.
"Our life age expectation is growing. Lots of people have family that live interstate or overseas or don't have any family at all," Ms Stubbs said.
"My services provide emotional, physical and mental health support for those that can sometimes feel alone and scared of dying.
"Doulas bridge a gap in care provision and provide continuity of care because they can be there through diagnosis, all the way through, right up to and after bereavement."
Ms Stubbs said there should be more services in place to support those at the end of their life.
"Care systems don't always meet the dying needs of people in our community and more can be done to support those in what is a scary time in someones life," she said.
"I see what needs to change, and the healing outcomes that making these changes can bring."
For more information about Seeking Solace and the services Ms Stubbs provides, visit seekingsolace.com.au
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