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About

Bluegrass Death Doula offers comprehensive death education and services to help enrich the end of life experience. Services include end-of-life planning, legacy project assistance, comfort therapy, living funerals, vigil services, home funeral guidance, green burial consultations, and celebrant services.

Meet Lauren Hunter-Smith

Founder of Bluegrass Death Doula

Lauren Hunter-Smith is an artist, gardener, amateur mycologist, Mama, and the founder of Bluegrass Death Doula. Lauren is a native of Lexington and graduated from the University of Kentucky, where she studied painting and biology.  Following college, Lauren served in the Peace Corps as a Women’s Health Volunteer in Benin, West Africa.  Upon her return to the Bluegrass, Lauren worked with several local nonprofit arts organizations, including the Headley-Whitney Museum and Kentucky Theater. Lauren made the leap to death care professional after completing her death doula certification in 2021. In addition to being a death educator and companion, Lauren is a home funeral guide, natural burial advocate, non-denominational celebrant, sound therapist, aromatherapist, meditation guide, and sought out speaker. Through Bluegrass Death Doula, she offers advanced care directives and funeral planning, legacy project assistance, comfort therapy, living funeral planning, vigil education, home funeral guidance, celebrant services, and green burial guidance.  Lauren currently serves as an Advisor to the Board of Windy Knoll Memorial Sanctuary in Lawrenceburg, KY.

Lauren Hunter-Smith

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a death doula?

A death doula is a person who helps people and their loved ones plan and prepare for death, as well as providing support with completing those arrangements.

 

What services do death doulas provide?

Death doulas provide a wide array of services that are as individual as the doulas themselves. Bluegrass Death Doula provides advanced care directives, end-of-life planning, legacy projects, comfort and care education, vigil education, home funeral guidance, celebrant services, and natural burial education.

    

When is the best time to contact a doula?

End-of-life planning is most effective when arranged before it is needed. However, doulas may come in at any point to assist and support people and their families.    

 

What advice do you have for people who want to become a death doula?

Death Doulas are an unregulated industry, so there is no wrong or right way to become one. My best advice is: 

1. Choose a doula program that fits your budget. Many programs are available currently but do not overextend yourself financially to get training. It is unlikely that you will find a paid position immediately after you complete your training if that is your goal.

2. Volunteer for your local hospice. This will allow you to experience death and dying and learn more about the administrative process that goes with it. Volunteering with patients is great, but there is much to learn on the administrative side, too. 

3. Visit your public library and search for books about death. Some of my favorite authors are Caitlin Doughty, Christopher Kerr, and Mary Roach.

4. Search for death documentaries on your streaming services.  Some of my favorites are Extremis, Alternate Endings, and Surviving Death.

5.  Do your own end-of-life planning.

 

Do you allow people to shadow your death doula work?

Although I do not currently provide doula training, I offer public events throughout the year. You can see the schedule here

 

What is a natural burial?

A natural burial optimizes decomposition instead of inhibiting it.  Bodies remain unembalmed, are dressed in natural fibers, and placed in biodegradable containers.  Rather than being buried at 6’, the grave depth is set to 3.5’ to allow oxygen exchange with the surface and optimize the presence of helpful microbes.  No vault or liner is used.    

 

What is a home funeral?

A home funeral occurs when family and friends assume the responsibility of caring for a body at home. Care may include cleansing and dressing the body, preserving the body through cooling, hosting a visitation, and transporting the body to the point of disposition. Techniques utilized in home funerals may also be used in other settings, such as nursing homes or hospitals, to allow the family time to honor their loved one. 

 

I need someone to talk to. Can you help?

Most death doulas are not therapists or counselors. However, there are many resources that can help.  Kentuckians may find a list of grief helplines here: https://findahelpline.com/countries/us/ky/topics/grief-loss

 

Can doulas help lower funeral costs?

Death doulas help to lower funeral costs by connecting clients with the appropriate venues and people to meet their needs and budget.  

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Schedule a Consultation

To schedule a consultation, call or text

859-494-8777 or email bgdeathdoula@gmail.com

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