OWNING OUR HUMAN EXPERIENCE
After 20 years of serving as a volunteer with patients inside the federal and mainstream healthcare system, and working in oncology care, Francesca O'Sullivan recognized the immediate need for support during the end-of-life stages.
British and Sudanese, Francesca comes from a diverse and multi-cultural background, and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12 . A traveler, lover of life and nature, she lived amongst and learned from the Elders of Indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest. Francesca is a Holistic Practitioner, CCMA, Certified Death Doula, Grief Worker, Flower Essence Practitioner, Community Herbalist, and the founder of Forest Fox Apothecary and Phoenix The Death Doula.
Taking a strong stance as an advocate, educator, and guide who empathetically assists in a wide range of needs for the terminally ill or those at the end-of-life, Francesca states "Medical care is only one element of support at the end of life. A Death Doula is a friend who offers a hand with no time constraints. We're filling a void in the healthcare system, bridging the gaps, complementing hospice care. Death Doulas provide holistic, physical, social, psychological and spiritual care. We are owning our human experience by addressing these considerations. It's dignifying and empowering!"
Francesca is a part of the 'Positive Death Movement' hosting Death Cafes, a safe space where all are welcome to discuss death without agenda, ideology, or religion being involved. She also supports and participates with those who are diagnosed with a terminal illness and choose aid-in-dying.
"In working with those who are dying, I offer another human being a spacious environment with my mind in which they can die as they need to die. I have no right to define how another person should die. I'm just there to help them transition, however they need to do it."
Giving you informed choices based on your values, Francesca can provide you with evidence-based unbiased information. She can navigate you through filling out advanced healthcare directives, DNR orders, POLST forms, healthcare proxies, healthcare powers of attorney, last wills & testaments, ethical wills, and death plans. She can help you find a hospice that fits your needs, and can provide education on death and dying, funeral planning, home funerals, green burials and death vigils.
Francesca creates a care plan that offers support wherever you are. Active listening, being present, sitting quietly, holding your hands, and validating you along the way, Francesca offers a comforting, peaceful safe space with no judgement. ALL are accepted. If desired, she can arrange visits with people for saying goodbyes and sharing memories. Whatever your wishes, Francesca aims to meet them.
Francesca can coordinate appointments, tie up loose ends, run errands, assist in personal hygiene, manage complex care tasks, maintain house work, cook meals, monitor medications, help with symptom management, encourage small acts of self care, and ensure installation of needed safety equipment. She can also provide lists of local resources, make connections, request palliative care consults, address priorities, create legacy work, plan a vigil, and vigil sit.
Francesca can serve as a supportive presence, easing anxiety and offering resources. You may be questioning your spiritual beliefs, not have any, or be firm in them. Traditional or nontraditional, your beliefs play a key role in your coping. Francesca can be present wherever you are as a witness, accepting your emotional and spiritual pain without judgement. You may want to share stories with family members, reach out and say thank you to someone, wish someone well, forgive or ask others for forgiveness and remember how much you have blessed others. You may want to pray, sing, chant, listen to music, dance, meditate, partake in a guided meditation, or work with your chakra energies. Francesca can also perform a traditional indigenous smudging ceremony and offer forms of complementary alternative non-medical services.
BODY CARE / HOME FUNERAL SUPPORT
Choosing to have a home funeral offers an affordable, therapeutic, and beautiful experience for loved ones. It enhances participation and death acceptance, giving loved ones direct control over arrangements up to the time of disposition. If you are planning a home funeral, also known as 'family directed after-death care', Francesca is able to teach post body care and assist in washing, anointing, dressing, or shrouding. Francesca embraces and honours the diversity of all social, cultural, and religious backgrounds.