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Death Doulas vs. After Loss Professionals:
What's the Difference?


It’s wonderful to see the increased interest in support roles around the end of a person’s life.

For many people, they realize how little support there is in this space only after they go through it themselves.

But if you’re interested in exploring ways to improve the experience of death and the work left behind, you may have trouble figuring out the difference between end of life doulas (also called death doulas) and after loss professionals.

What kind of work do they do?

Death doulas

Services can vary widely, but they generally provide emotional support and companionship for the dying person and their loved ones.


After loss professionals

Provide practical support and guidance after a loss. The main focus for after loss professionals is helping clients figure out what needs to be done to close or transfer accounts, notify organizations, and deal with property–all things that fall to families when they’re grieving.

Why is there a need for this work?

Death doulas

One of their goals is shifting our culture’s consciousness around dying, which means showing up in love and support for the dying person and their family at the end of their life. Their work is important in changing attitudes and fear around death.


After loss professionals

The roles of other professionals after a death are often specialized or fragmented, and after loss professionals fill in those gaps by serving as estate project manager, an extra set of helping hands, or an empathetic detective by taking a comprehensive look at everything that falls to the client.

Who is their client?

Death doulas

Their client is typically the dying person. They can be hired by and offer support to family members as well, but their main focus is providing comfort and guidance to someone facing death.

After loss professionals

Their client is typically the person in the family who is responsible for taking action on behalf of the deceased. This could be the heir, surviving spouse, administrator, or executor.

When do they get involved?

Death doulas

In the last months, weeks, or days of a person's life.

After loss professionals

In the days, weeks, or months after a person has died.

Both roles play crucial parts in supporting individuals and families through challenging times. Some families may work with one or both of these professionals, depending on their situation.

If you’d like to learn more about about the emerging field of after loss services, please visit

Request the PALS After Loss Checklist

The PALS After Loss Checklist offers a helpful place to start understanding the tasks families are faced with after the loss of a loved one.

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