Thursday, October 05, 2023 2:10 PM | Elizabeth Mattke (Administrator)

When my father was dying, he repeatedly asked me, “What should I do? What should I do?” Being able to reassure him with calm and loving presence was the first step in my journey toward becoming a certificated end-of-life doula in 2015, after a career as an educator and an editor. Before that time, my loved ones had been fortunate to receive tremendously competent medical support; thereafter, I was able to provide spiritual, emotional, and practical support to them and my clients.

Joining GAWN this year has been a highlight of 2023. Before moving to Gainesville in 2018, I was a lifelong resident of northern Ohio and began offering end-of-life doula services there. GAWN has helped me to connect with the special women in the Gainesville area community who form the membership. The monthly meetings are energizing because of inspiring speakers, and also because of the lovely new people I meet each month.

I joined GAWN as part of a group of End-of-Life Doulas who represent the Gainesville area membership if a statewide organization called FEOLDA, which stands for Florida End-of-Life Doulas. My mission is the same as FEOLDA’s (https://FEOLDA.com): “to provide resources, non-medical care, advocacy, and compassionate support for the dying” and their families and friends.

It amazes me to be part of FEOLDA’s collection of talented and compassionate souls. Each member has areas to which they gravitate. We have experts in grief/mourning, advance directives and preparation, media resources, advocacy, funeral/burial, legacy projects, and education. I am among those who focus on bedside vigil, but we are all trained to provide non-medical, personalized care in all areas.

Each of us meets personally with a new client to devise a care plan based on the needs of the individual. Each scenario is different, and each of us has expertise in meeting unique needs. I am fortunate to be able to collaborate with my colleagues whenever necessary to provide what each client might need. The colleagues who joined GAWN with me are as follows.

  • William Turner Heath is multitalented. As a licensed funeral director and host of The Calling Hours (https://callinghours.co/ or williamturnerheath@gmail.com ) he is also a certified end-of-life doula and media specialist;
  • Shanti Vani ( shantivani.com or 352-225-1385 ) enhances her end-of-life doula practice as a grief recovery training specialist;
  • Rev. Jane Roy is an interfaith minister, green burial specialist, co-host of My Trail Ends, as well as partner in William and Weed Funeral Services (https://mytrailends.com or 352-204-2381); and
  • Anna Schwait has expertise in Advanced Directives (anna.schwait@gmail.com; https://www.compassionatecarenow.com/ 352-538-7161).

The privilege of accompanying the dying has provided me with some of the most meaningful times in my life. My areas of focus are bedside vigil and legacy works, but I delight in meeting the needs of clients and their families with practical support, ethical will preparation, life review, and additional services to facilitate the best experience during this sacred passage. Please feel free to contact me by phone, text, or email:

Phone: 216-316-4454 or Email: Lee_Wilberschied@yahoo.com

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