Lifespan Doula Association was founded in 2016 by Merilynne Rush and Patty Brennan. We offer professional End-of-Life Doula Training and Certification, continuing education programs, mentoring for doulas, and resources and referrals for individuals and families seeking end-of-life support. Our home base is Ann Arbor, Michigan, but we make referrals all over the U.S. and are available to bring a training to your community. We hope you find our website informative and inspirational. Let us hear from you.

Feature of the Month

Learn about Home Funerals

Home Funerals

The National Home Funeral Alliance Conference is an excellent opportunity for end-of-life doulas to learn more about how to help families after death. It will be taking place September 22-24 in Baltimore and our own Merilynne Rush is one of the featured speakers. NHFA is a nonprofit member organization comprised of home funeral advocates all across the United States, educating about the intrinsic value of a home funeral. Their mission is to support the innate rights of families to care for their own dead. Learn more.

See also Merilynne’s upcoming Home Funeral & Green Burial Workshop in Ann Arbor on November 18. Expand your services to include solid information and guidance for families on this important topic!

Our Blog

doula mentoring webinars

August Newsletter

See our August newsletter. The minimalist doula (feature article); webinar archives are now available online; newly formed End-of-Life Doula Network; working towards a definition of EOL doulas; NEW Doula Share Circle--save the date! Read more ...
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minimalist doula

The Minimalist Doula

Another aspect to having good boundaries as an end-of-life doula is simply knowing when to hold back and not to say or do anything. Recently, my good friend died. During her illness I realized early on that I would have ...
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Upcoming Events

National Hospice and Palliative Care Conference @ San Diego, CA
Sep 18 – Sep 20 all-day

This conference provides a great educational/networking opportunity. It features a number of tracks pertinent to end-of-life doulas, including

  • Community-Based Palliative Care
  • Quality
  • Supportive Care​

Merilynne Rush will be representing LDA as leaders in the end-of-life doula movement come together to discuss the future and growth of the profession.

National Home Funeral Alliance Conference @ Baltimore, MD
Sep 22 – Sep 24 all-day
National Home Funeral Alliance Conference @ Baltimore, MD | Baltimore | Maryland | United States

Interested in home funerals? Here is a time and place where you’ll have all the time you want to visit and connect with others. A day of expert-facilitated panel sessions on how to grow this movement in your community. Two film screenings and a chance to meet their makers … then kick back under the stars at a bonfire to share home funeral stories. Next day, attend hands-on skills sessions and broaden your knowledge and understanding. Need more? There are vendors, art projects, farm-fresh food, books, music and much more. Please register soon! Space is limited.

Ann Arbor Death Cafe @ Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room
Oct 21 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Ann Arbor Death Cafe @ Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room | Ann Arbor | Michigan | United States

Join us for lively discussion about life and death led by the participants and facilitated by Merilynne Rush and Diana Cramer. The Ann Arbor Death Cafe has been meeting every month since November 2012, making us the longest standing continuously running Death Cafe in the world! For more information, please visit www.DeathCafe.com.

End-of-Life Doula Training @ Center for the Childbearing Year
Oct 27 – Oct 29 all-day
End-of-Life Doula Training @ Center for the Childbearing Year | Ann Arbor | Michigan | United States

This dynamic weekend encompasses how to provide comfort and support to the dying and their family. Topics include the dying process, understanding hospice and palliative care, the doula business professional, guidelines and scope of practice, advance care planning, grief and bereavement, communication skills, self-care and more.

An end-of-life doula accompanies the dying person and their loved ones in the final days and weeks of life, providing resources, education and companionship for the dying and the caregivers. End-of-life doulas represent a new frontier in the doula profession, traditionally centered on birth and postpartum support. They are an outgrowth of recent cultural trends favoring natural death care.

This training is designed for family members and friends of the dying, hospice and palliative care workers, midwives and doulas, clergy, therapists, life coaches, and anyone who wants to prepare for their own death. It is not recommended for the recently bereaved.

EOL Doula Share Circle – Handling Difficult Emotions: The Science and Practice of Mindful Self-Compassion @ Center for the Childbearing Year
Nov 14 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

RoxanneFlyer Guest speaker: Dr. Roxane Chan. Please join us for this informative and supportive discussion about improving resilience and sustaining the joy and peace of caregiving at difficult times. We will discuss emotional fatigue and specific self-compassion skills, as well as listening with compassion to ourselves and others. Research demonstrates that self-compassion is strongly associated with all aspects of emotional wellbeing and is the perfect answer to caregiver fatigue and burnout.


Roxane Chan holds a PhD from the University of Michigan in health promotion and health risk reduction. Caring for people at the end of life has been a focus throughout her nursing career and is the reason she has spent the past ten years researching and teaching mindfulness self-care practices to people with chronic disease and those that care for them. She is a board certified advanced holistic nurse and recently completed training in Mindful Self-Compassion through the University of California at San Diego.