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Why LGBTQ people could benefit from a death doula

The term death doula has been in the news a lot lately. But death doulas don’t just support a person as they navigate the dying process. They also support those looking to get their affairs in order. Amanda Meeks is death doula who works with the LGBTQ community.

Her role, as she puts it, is to provide all of the non-medical support you can think of. But she doesn’t just sit with those who are dying. 

"It can also include things like pre-planning for death and dying if somebody has a terminal illness, or even if just healthy people want to get their affairs in order," she said. 

And in the LGBTQ community, pre-planning is vital, especially for those who are estranged from their family of origin.

Sarah Bahnson is with the Pima Council on Aging. 

"And if you don't have that in writing, then there is a risk that family of origin and laws that favor family of origin, will mean that your identity gets erased," Bahnson said. 

Bahnson says the risk for trans folks is even greater because they frequently don’t seek out medical care, "which could mean difficult and complicated, dying processes at home without medical care," they said.

Meeks is co-hosting several conversations through the University of Arizona about death and dying specifically geared toward the LGBTQ community.

Senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.