Fiona Holoboff truly believed that 2020 was going to be her year. But in the first four months her mother died of dementia, a neighbour who was like a second mom died of a heart attack, and her brother fell ill and died too.
“None of them were ‘good deaths.’ There was no resolution. Partly that was because of COVID, but it was also because of our fractured relationships,” she says.
“I knew there were midwives who help bring new life into the world, and I started wondering if there was someone who helps escort life out of the world. Then I saw an ad for the End of Life Doula program at Douglas College and said, ‘So that’s what it’s called!’”
More than anything, Fiona wants to help people feel more comfortable talking about death. She offers one-on-one services, but she also plans to host seminars to help her community in the Qualicum Beach area start talking about this difficult subject.
“When people are given a terminal diagnosis and told to get their affairs in order, they usually focus on funeral and estate planning. Their loved ones and friends may scatter away because they don’t know what to do, what to say, or how to help. The fear and anxiety of impending loss keeps questions from being asked and answered because as a society, we are unaccepting and afraid of death. There’s an undercurrent of dread that creeps into their daily lives while they wait for ‘the news’ that their loved one has passed away,” she says. “By encouraging and facilitating honest and open communication from the beginning, we can work together to create quality time together instead of silent stress. I want to take the fear and anxiety out of death to help people stay in the small moments that mean so much. Talking about death won’t kill you!” she says.
Timeworks Doula Care
Fiona first came to Qualicum Beach in 1988, and even on a grey day of rain and fog, she knew it was a special place. Six years ago she and her husband made the move from Dawson Creek to care for his aging parents, and now they’re proud to call Qualicum Beach home.
Her journey to become an end of life Doula has had a similar trajectory. In 2019 she had a high-stress job at a big company, and it took burn-out, family deaths and a personal health scare to help change her career path.
“It really took a lot to get here. This is what I was meant to do, what I was built for,” she says.
Her company, Timeworks Doula Care, offers a wide range of services including advanced care planning, advocacy and companioning, life review and legacy projects. She does not offer medical or financial advice.