About Me

Hi, I’m Nancy and founder of HELD – Holistic End of Life Doula.

Doing this work is a real calling.

In 2020 I undertook The End of Life Doula course developed and delivered by The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine which is the medical school of The University of Vermont.

It was a life changer – in all ways and more.

The course is headed by the wonderful Francesca Arnoldy – author of Cultivating The Doula Heart and is supported by highly experienced End of Life Doulas, plus Robert E Gramling who is a Palliative Medicine Physician, Associate Professor and Research Director and Nina J Thompson – founder of Wake Up to Dying Project.

The training was comprehensive, deep and reflective and I graduated with a deep realisation that the doula was already within me.

Being a doula isn’t something that I do or something that is separate from me – it is part of who I am.

And even if I never used this training in a professional capacity I knew it would change how I supported family and friends at the end of life and how I engaged with my own contemplation and preparation of death.

Being able to draw on my experiences of working on the care teams for both adult and children’s hospices is hugely valuable and bringing the part of me that is a Meditation Teacher, Compassionate Touch and Cuddle Therapist and facilitator of Embodied Joy workshops can be wonderfully supportive to those I companion. Since 2015 I have been facilitating Embodied Joy workshops in several of West Yorkshire’s Hospices including Kirkwood in Huddersfield, Overgate in Halifax, Forget Me Not in Huddersfield and at Wheatfield’s in Leeds as well as in various residential care homes and for support groups. My experiences enabled me to develop a training program specifically for Laughter Yoga Professionals to compassionately take their laughter skills into hospices.

Doula work requires refined skills in holding space and deep listening which are also a necessary part of my work in Compassionate Touch and Cuddle Therapy. In fact, deep, attentive listening is probably the single most valuable skill in the service of a doula.

So what got me into burial shrouds? Well, quite frankly, I wanted to be prepared myself and as having a natural, green and sustainable burial is important to me I got to work. Making my own burial shroud was a real labour of love and I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process. And, the best thing is, as I create yours I will pay as much care and attention to detail as I have for my own or a beloved family member.
Making shrouds integrates so well into my ethos of caring for our precious earth and all the life it supports and is so fitting with my service as an end of life doula. It’s really an extension of the care and tenderness involved in supporting families once that threshold has been crossed and the intimacy of shrouding allows for that loving care to continue and the gentle leaning in to the grief begin.

What else would you like to know about me?

Well, I’m a huge animal lover and enjoy spending my spare time in nature – walking the moors here in Yorkshire, sitting amongst trees, witnessing the weather just as it shows itself, foraging and being in or close to water. I’m partial to a spot of all seasons open water swimming and dipping. In fact, nature is my go-to for self-care. I love the serenity and beauty of it. I also love a good belt out of my favourite songs despite having a less than tuneful voice haha so I try to keep it confined to my home or the car. It’s great for releasing stress and good for the soul (although maybe not so good for your ears!). I usually have a book or 2 on the go and I’m always up for some playfulness or mischief. Well, it spices life up somewhat.

I am fully insured, hold a current DBS certificate and have an up-to-date First Aid at Work Certificate. I also hold certificates in Safeguarding, Equality, Diversity & Human Rights and Dignity in Care amongst other things.

My End of Life Doula services are tailored specifically with you in mind. Although our basic human needs are all the same your individuality will set the tone for your own, unique experience. Take a look around my website and if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me. Check back later for new updates to the website.

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