About this course

Course Description

Your doula client has died. Now what? If you’re an end-of-life doula who wants to remain engaged after the death occurs, this is the course you need to ensure a seamless continuum of care for your families—and avoid your own lawsuit. Building on the skills you bring to end-of-life doula support, this 12-module course will help expand your knowledge of practical, legal, and strategic opportunities and limitations inherent in the after-death care world. Learn about what goes into settling estates, what natural, family-directed after-death care consists of, what helpers and officials might be involved, who has the right to care for the dead, and how doulas can practice without fear of legal challenges. Here is where you’ll find the language and forms necessary for working in after-death services, plus best practices around the business end.

Course Format

  • Begin course immediately after registration
  • All course materials available on demand
  • Guest experts/video presentations
  • Readings and video assignments
  • Independent research
  • Access to broad range of resource lists and links


Lee Webster

Lee is a writer, researcher, long-time hospice volunteer, home funeral guide, and frequent speaker and educator on home funerals, green burial, and funeral reform on the local, national, and international front. She regularly guest lectures at colleges and universities, mortuary schools, adult education programs, and co-teaches free and proficiency demonstration classes, including Green Burial Masterclass, Doulas and After-Death Care, and Green Funeral Service here at Redesigning the End. She served in chief leadership positions, including presiding, for seven years with the National Home Funeral Alliance and five with the Green Burial Council, and helped found the National End-of-Life Doula Alliance and Conservation Burial Alliance while directing New Hampshire Funeral Resources, Education & Advocacy, and co-creating the Funeral Partnership.org home funeral website development company. She was also a founding member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization's Doula Council. She is the author of several home funeral and green burial books, including The After-Death Care Educator Handbook and Changing Landscapes: Exploring the growth of ethical, compassionate and environmentally sustainable green funeral service.

Why does this course exist?

Course outline

Module 1: Exploring the Intersection of Before- and After-Death Care

Given that a great deal of doula training focuses on preparing the dying person and their families and friends for the new reality, why would a doula need to know more about after-death issues? What could possibly go wrong? That’s what this section is built to point out. Throughout the course, we will present the facts and concerns plus the workarounds and practices that will keep the doula who wants to continue to serve after the death on solid legal ground.

Module 2:  Legal Limitations, Processes, and Procedures

What are the wide-ranging ramifications of getting caught practicing funeral directing without a license? How do we know what we can and can’t do, and what we can and can’t charge for? We’ll go over those lists in detail while delving into what it could mean for the rights of Americans if we overstep.

 Module 3: Legal Authority: Who’s in Charge

Funeral law is federal as well as state-specific, empowering families to care for their own dead on the one hand while requiring the hiring of a professional to do specific tasks in certain places and circumstances. Staying on the right side of the law for doulas means understanding that law and where each of the players fits in to the whole picture. Understanding next-of-kin and designated agent for funeral arrangements is fundamental to knowing where we stand as non-licensed helpers.

Module 4:  Completing Paperwork

Even though doulas are hands-off when it comes to the paperwork, what we know about how it works in invaluable to a family that has never done it before. When the next-of-kin takes on acting as his/her/their own funeral director, certain things are required within certain timeframes and in a certain order. An after-death care educator needs to be conversant with all the paperwork and how it works, including death certificates, permits, authorizations, and more. 

Module 5: The Funeral Industry/Laws, Rules, and Policies

So what are those laws and rules that could land a doula in court? What’s the difference between what funeral homes can do and what the average person can do with the deceased? What’s the difference between laws for us all, rules and regulations for licensed professionals, and institutional policies in private businesses? We’ll go into detail about how to advocate for families when they don’t mesh.

Module 6: Licensure, Standards, Certification

Some doula trainings promise certification, but what does that mean in the marketplace and the courtroom? Learn why your certificate may—or may not—accurately represent your qualifications, or protect you in the event of a lawsuit. And find out why measurable core competencies and standards are the key to credibility.

Module 7: Forms, Disclaimers, Waivers

Instead of trying to craft disclaimers that cover all the legal bases, we provide you with proven language for your website and other written materials. Same with forms, waivers, agreements—why reinvent them when you can customize them instead? We’ll help you recognize the key elements needed to satisfy these important basic business documents.

Module 8: Payment, Insurance, Best Business Practices

Dealing with the financial aspect of doula work, especially once you cross over into the death space, is an area fraught with confusing options and often a foreign language. We’ll discuss ways to approach the financial side of the work, from sliding fee scale strategy to insurance and why it’s critical to your business.

 Module 9: After Death Body Care

A fair amount of your work will entail demonstrating, educating, and answering questions about after-death body care. Doulas need to know how it all works for the purpose of educating others to this often forgotten practice. We also touch on disease precautions, cooling techniques, and after-death vigil resources.

Module 10: Community Care Groups and Collectives

Some of us find comfort in joining forces to provide a richer experience for families and to share costs associated with after-death care services. Some highly successful care communities, committees, and groups have been serving regions throughout the US and Canada for decades. Still others form as collectives, adding modalities and support services for pay that go beyond public education and family support. We’ll talk about those and about legally acceptable organizational options and talk to members of groups who have a track record we can learn from.

 Module 11: Advocating for Family-Directed After Death Care

What goes into advocating for family-directed after-death care in your community? It’s more than just talking at the local Rotary over runny eggs at 6 in the morning. We’ll share resources, talk strategy, and get to the heart of why we do this work in the after-death sphere. We’ll also side-step into what patient advocacy as a way of serving our families directly.

Module 12: Social Justice in the Death Space

One of the biggest taboos in this country around social justice issues is in the death space: historical racial exclusion, mistreatment of LGBTQ+ community members, co-opting of women’s place as healers and death workers, and the list goes on—happening for centuries but rarely spoken of in public. It’s a much bigger topic than we can cover here, but we hope this will serve as a jumping-off point for those who wish to bring awareness to their practice. 

Not ready for this in-depth training?

Try a free short course instead

  • Free

    FreeAfter-Death Care Mini Course for Doulas, Guides, and Individuals

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