On Becoming a Certified Death Midwife

I attended Death Midwife Certification Intensive training in Bannockburn, IL with Earth Traditions, a Pagan community for People of the Earth. Training was completed on 10/13/13. I am now a Certified Death Midwife.

Training is centered around supporting the provision of dignified and sacred end of life care to loved ones before, at and after the moment of death. The skills are not medical in nature but spiritual, traditional, hands-on and loving as was common over one hundred years ago when people took care of their dead at home, with their own hands.

This course work was modeled after the tradition of Ceremonies for Life's Thresholds pioneered by Nora Cedarwind Young.

Training included learning about the tools and techniques for midwifing the dying and working with the family of the dying person. We practiced how to care for the body after death envisioning our own deaths. Attention was given to creating sacred space, before and after death.

The Certified Death Midwife answers the call to assist and takes items with her to help create sacred space, comfort the dying and care for the body after death. This was covered in the training.

A certified Death Midwife could be invovled in home funeral vigils, presentations to local organizations, act as an officiant of memorial services and can assist family in making phone calls and finding the right paperwork to fill out after death has occurred. A certified Death Midwife is expected to create a guide book for personal reference with local and state wide resources and requirements. We left training with some of this information and suggestions for contacting businesses such as local funeral homes and crematoriums to find out if they are willing to work with us and to find out pricing structures for goods and services.

We discussed green burial options.

In this class we discussed moral and ethical concerns about the choices that people may or may not have made surrounding their dying. While it is important to have discussions around death many people have not had such talks and family is left trying to figure out what to do on their own.

I remember a particularly poignant film we viewed in which an elderly man decided to stop eating and taking in fluids because he had a terminal illness with no hope of recovery. His wife did not understand his decision and he died less than 2 weeks later, quite peacefully. She did her best to support him along with others. It was quite sad but it was empowering for him to have that last choice.

Care can be provided in many settings including the home. Certified Death Midwives can support families in places such as hospice or nursing homes also. Many people are not aware that such services are offered but they are becoming more well known due to families wanting to say goodbye on their own terms at home and due to decreased cost.

I am very glad i had this training and certification. Although some Death Midwives are employed in this field I will likely only be offering this service to family and friends where it is legal to do so due to my vision loss as I am often unable to drive. There are five states where home funerals are not legal and, unfortunately, Indiana is one of them. That is where much of my family lives. I live in Illinios and can practice here.


How the family buries the one who's passed in the states where there is no funeral homes?

Posted by ewa

Whatever you may have lost in sight, you have gained in vision.

Posted by Palmer

addressing death with children

Where I was born and raised there were many home vigil and funerals, so I attended several as a child. It was a little traumatic for me at the age of 9 when my cousin who was 16 died of cancer and I was present throughout his death and wake and burial. I think it gave me a sense of death that children don't get anymore. If I could have attended the Cafe today, that was a subject I wanted to introduce. Funeral homes in general now have areas where people can send their children that is like a lounge with drinks, snacks and toys. I wanted to hear different opinions of whether this shielding is wise or whether children should be present and witness to natural death and the mourning process.

Posted by Linda Gutierrez

I just became aware of the concept of a "Death Midwife" , about 10 minutes ago. I am very impressed. I feel like this is my calling as it resonates so deep wirhin me. How and where, do I aquire more information as to training to be a Death Midwife? I live in Arizona. Is it legal here?

Posted by Autumn

Online Training

Hi, I am interested in taking a training/certification online. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you

Posted by Mariangeles

Hi, Friends,
I haven't been able to answer the question "what is the nationally recognized agency by whom the certification conferred"? As far as I know there is no authoritative body either state, federal or professional (like the American ASsociation of Death Midwives) who has established standards and course work necessary to make a 'certification' a 'thing'. THe training is great and entirely necessary, but I've been duped into acquiring meaningless credentials in the past, so I now know what questions to ask. If there is a recognized agency conferring certification I really want to make sure that the course I take is taught by a member in good standing with that conferring body. DOes anyone know who that conferring body is? I'm pretty sure there is no real 'certification' that can let a consumer know the death midwife in question is competent. The current certification is simply a word used by the course facilitator right? I'm of two minds about the existence of such an agency having authority to confer such certification: on one hand, an agency with recognized legal and professional authority to grant meaningful 'certifications' is always a boost for a profession and helps regulate practices and train good workers, but on the other hand I'm loath to see yet another strata of 'professional' get created w/in the realm of death-care. I want these skills returned to the public at large, not become the domain of yet another class of for-hire specialists. It's an interesting dichotomy, isn't it? Love to all.

Posted by terry skovronek

I am unable to open the death midwife classes on earth traditions website, does the death cafe still exist? Also are you able to become a Death Midwife if you are not a pagan or interested in becoming one anytime soon?

Posted by Anastasia

I attended the Death Cafe yesterday. I, too, have recognized I have the skills, experience (as a former funeral service professional, now known as having worked in the 'death care industry') and willingness to transform this into a calling that resonates deeply. I am also looking for the certification and am loath to be party to 'microwaveable' designations. If anyone knows of one, I am already manifesting it with intention. Now all I need are the credentials.

Posted by Markc

Interested in becoming a death midwife in Louisiana.

Posted by Felicia

Thank you for this...like Markc this is a calling that rsonates deeply with me. I was curious so looked up funeral arrangements at home and came across this:
Do You Need a Funeral Director?
In all states, it is legal to have your loved one’s body at home after they die, and most states don’t require you to use a licensed funeral director for final arrangements. The states that do mandate a funeral director’s involvement -- from signing the death certificate to overseeing burial or cremation -- include Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, and Utah.

Posted by Maureen

Certified Death Midwife

Cassandra, you and I have differing opinions on this as we have discussed privately in the past. I would again reiterate that our definition comes from academia, and is not without it's own related limitations and biases. Mine comes from an international credentialing agency that specializes in this work. Additionally, you are in Canada, not in the United states. Personal opinions notwithstanding, the Earth Traditions training program exists, and it is offering a legitimate certification for this work, within the parameters of the definitions provided by Credentialing Excellence. We are in the process of launching a National agency that will protect our certification, and grandfather in those who have taken our program, much the way the Massage Therapy trade had to do with it's people back in the 1990's. http://www.earthtraditions.org/colorado-death-midwife-certification/

Posted by Angie Buchanan

The description provided by Cassandra Yonder who resides in Canada, is relative to academia. I would propose this one from Credentialing Excellence, a professional membership association that provides education, networking, and other resources for organizations and individuals who work in and serve the credentialing industry. ICE is a leading developer of standards for both certification and certificate programs and it is both a provider of and a clearing house for information on trends in certification, test development and delivery, assessment-based certificate programs, and other information relevant to the credentialing community. The definition is as follows: "One of the most common types of certification in modern society is a professional certification, where a person is certified as being able to competently complete a job or task, usually by the passing of an examination and/or the completion of a program of study. Some professional certifications also require that one obtain work experience in a related field before the certification can be awarded. Some professional certifications are valid for a lifetime upon completing all certification requirements. Others expire after a certain period of time and have to be maintained with further education and/or testing. Certifications can differ within a profession by the level or specific area of expertise to which they refer. Certification does not designate that a person has sufficient knowledge in a subject area, only that they passed the test. Certification does not refer to the state of legally being able to practice or work in a profession. That is licensure." http://www.credentialingexcellence.org

Posted by Angie Buchanan

I just ran across this thread so, apologies for the delay in response. Terry S. You are right, there is no national credentialing agency for this. We are working on developing something however, that does not negate a certification that is already in place. Also, know that there is a difference between a certification and licensure. I explain that in depth on my website. For those interested in this training, we offer the training all over the country, at various times. You can sign up for the mailing list, or keep an eye on the website, or contact me personally if you're interested. Angie@EarthTraditions.org. Here's the website: http://www.earthtraditions.org/about-the-death-midwife-certification/

Posted by Angie Buchanan

I have always been interest d in mortuary sciences but I am legally blind, and was not able to drive to pick people up from hospitals etc. death midwifery is something I would be very interested in learning. I am going to try to find out more and learn more and hopefully become certified in my state to assist others during this transition time. Thank you for posting this.
Peace, Nancy

Posted by Nancy

death midwifery practitioner; education, home funeral guidance, bereavement support

here is an excellent description of the difference between a certificate and a certification. To my knowledge there is no such thing as a certified death midwife, death doula, thanadoula, home funeral guide etc


Posted by cassandra yonder

I don't know whether laws have changed, but looking at this website, it seems that caring for your own dead and having your own ceremony is legal in EVERY state:


Posted by LJW


what is right name, work with the dying as hospice aide went to get my papers for cerification as death midwife what states legal work in please respond

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Posted by Jim Anthony

Midwives are a professional organization who receive years of extensive training. Fought for centuries to correct the perception of witches. We don’t appreciate people using the title “midwife”. Why not call yourselves death doctors - because your not a doctor, a midwife or a nurse. Too bad you couldn’t create your own profession.

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