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The Death Midwife

Photo of workshop by Donna Belk and Sandy Booth
At this home funeral training workshop, participants learn to prepare the body for a home vigil.

In recent years, there has been expansion of palliative care, which is medical care that focuses on providing relief from the symptoms and stress of serious illness.  There also has been increased availability of hospice care, which is designed to give support and comfort to people in the final phase of a terminal illness. There’s a new movement in end of life care called death midwifery.

Angie Buchanan is a death midwife who also teachers others about her craft.  She is based in Wisconsin, and she will be teaching a three day certification class in Iowa next week.

"We're holistic and spiritual companions to anyone at the end of life, so we sort of fill the gap between the medical profession and the funeral industry. There's a lot of room in there that seem to be empty without being paid attention to and we flow between the medical and the funeral industry professions," Buchanan says.

She adds that death midwives also help families that are preparing a home funeral.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa