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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Johnston

From English teacher to Death Doula

In 2015, Vanessa Johnston was looking for a new career. Her passion for teaching high school English had waned, and she wanted a different way to be of useful service in the world.

Around this time she was fortunate enough to visit China and Japan with her family and was moved by the many temples and statues of Guanyin or Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion. It was there she decided to release her worries and concerns about the direction her life might go and trust that a unique path for her would emerge.

Three months later Vanessa accepted a job as an “non-medical assistant” for a man who had ALS. By 2017, this man would become her first client after she completed training with the International End-of-Life Doula Association (INELDA). As a former literature teacher turned death doula, Vanessa encourages clients to engage in life review as a way to come to terms with their own stories. When we are able to gain an empathetic perspective on our own lives, then one may become empowered during the natural process of dying. By allowing our loved ones to participate in vigil and ritual during this time, we can allow them to experience grief and bereavement in a healthier way.

Vanessa's ancestral altar

The Launch of Denver EOL Doula In 2018, Vanessa formed her own company called Denver EOL Doula. She now spends her time as an End-of-Life Doula, a death educator, and an advocate for all the new options in the field of death care. She loves to tell others about green burials, water cremation, and natural organic reduction. She also hosts the monthly Littleton Death Cafe and facilitates conversations about what it means to be mortal. However, her true calling lies in sitting bedside with those who are dying so that she may be a compassionate companion in the final weeks, days, and hours. She considers it an honor to sit vigil with loved ones so that the sacred act of final transition can happen in peace for all.

Vanessa's website and social media: Denver EOL Doula Facebook Instagram

Vanessa's Podcasts/Presentations: Podcast episode: Estate Planning and Elder Law Hour with Skip Reynolds- 1430AM Presentation: Colorado Guardianship Association 11.10.20 "Embracing Life and Honoring Death with End-of-Life Doulas"

Vanessa in print: Article from My Prime Time News Article from Discover Your Spiritual Gifts Newsletter Book: Author of, "Stepping Into your Sovereignty: Be the Queen of Your Own Happiness," in Inspirations: 101 Uplifting Stories for Daily Happiness, published by As You Wish Publishing, edited by Kyra Schaefer.

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