Highlands resident Nancy Gosse has dedicated most of her adult life towards helping people overcome difficult, often traumatic experiences. Now, the counsellor is busy studying to fill what she sees as a void in the community, seeking to become one of Haliburton County’s first certified death doulas.

Gosse’s roots in providing support services, both mental and spiritual, stretches back decades to her time working as a night counsellor at a community centre and residence in Newfoundland. Now, she offers a wide-range of programs under her Inceptional Soul Services umbrella, combining spiritual counseling, meditation instruction, and energy healing.

She started her death doula training in June 2021, signing up for a program offered through the Home Hospice Association. Asked to explain the role of a death doula, Gosse said it’s all about providing support.

“Helping people to feel comfortable with talking about what it means to be dying. Many people consider death to be a morbid topic, but it doesn’t have to be. A death doula’s job is to stay grounded, and help clients stay grounded so they can deal with a diagnosis and try to move forward,” Gosse said.

She added, “You can be a resource, helping people to connect the dots for things they might need to support them through the dying process… Just being there to provide a sense of stability during a time of upset and chaos. A death doula will walk beside you and assist in any way that helps you find your calm in the middle of the storm.”

There are four essential areas of focus for those studying to become a death doula: legacy work, vigil, active dying and bereavement support. Gosse said students will typically select one area to specialize in. While she is yet to make a final decision, she has found herself drawn to legacy work.

“This is wide open to creative approaches for however the dying person wishes to engage in developing a project that is intended as a memory keeper,” Gosse said. “It could be creating a photo book, writing a memoir, writing letters to say goodbye, or planning a ‘living funeral’.”

Gosse is hoping to become fully certified before the end of the year.

“I feel this is a natural extension of everything I’ve been doing with my practice anyway… Over the years, I’ve felt like I’ve been collecting pieces of a puzzle and this is just the latest area of study for me,” Gosse said. “My goal is to be there for this community, to help people during their lowest time… Where I am now, doing this work, it just feels like the right place to be.”

To learn more, visit inceptionalsoul.com.