Ashland woman offers services to grieving families during pandemic

ASHLAND, Ore. — As this global pandemic affects our world, it also brings to light our own mortality and the mortality of those around us.

“One of the most important things to me as a nurse has been to do my best to keep my patients from dying alone,” said Allison Becker, hospice nurse & death doula.

Allison Becker is no stranger to death.

She’s worked as a hospice nurse since 2002 and was faced with her own mortality after being diagnosed with breast cancer two years later.

“I’ve worked in a lot of skilled nursing facilities where patients literally lay in their rooms and pass away by themselves with no one holding their hand, with no one there to tell them that they love them,” she said.

When the pandemic hit, Becker saw a need in the community for something more.

“So many people are stuck dying alone and their families are in windows. And some of that is inevitable, but then there’s other things… like if someone’s living in an assisted living facility, if they don’t require 24 hour care and if the family is able to take them home with just a little extra care,” she said.

Becker decided to become what’s called a ‘death doula.’

“If you think of a birth doula and how that person walks with you from the moment you find out you’re pregnant until the birthing of the child, it’s the other way around,” she said.

Not only can Becker help with the medical needs of the patients, but their spiritual and emotional needs as well.

“You get a diagnosis or prognosis saying you are in fact going to be passing. And that death doula can walk with you in that moment or she and he can come in during the time… when you’re actually in that process,” Becker said.

Whether it’s walking a grieving family member home or providing hours-long one on one care, Becker says it’s all about just being a friend during someone’s greatest time of need.

“I develop a personal, deep relationship with people and so does hospice, don’t get me wrong. But it’s the medical field versus someone coming into your home with the sole purpose of basically loving you until you pass away and supporting the family until you pass away,” she said.

Click here for more information about Becker and her services.

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