"I had a fear of death but now I'm a death doula - and help people through the dying process"

A woman with a fear of dying has become death doula to help people coming to the end of their life - after losing her mum to a brain tumour. Morgan Everitt, 33, was “frightened of death” growing up and would “think about it all the time”. But she had to face her fear head on when her mum, Paula, 61, was told a rare benign brain tumour – an acoustic neuroma – she first battled when Morgan was little had grown with a "vengeance" when Morgan was 24. Morgan spent the next two years, looking after her mum with her dad, Dan, 67, and sister, Dana, 35, before Paula passed away in 2016 from the tumour. Paula was "completely paralysed by the end" and although Morgan found the process “extremely painful” she said it being by her side “felt like the most meaningful thing to do”. After “learning so much” from the process she started to research more and read books on the subject before taking up a death doula programme at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, US, in 2019. She spent the next four years studying, also taking up a course with INELDA – the International End of Life Association – as well as a programme with Deathwives. Now living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, US, with her fiancé, Rob, 35, who works in technology, Morgan launched her death doula business in February 2023. Morgan, who also works as an actor, said: "I was really frightened of death. “I had a huge fear and would think about it all the time. “When my mum became ill it was extremely difficult and painful. “But it felt like the most meaningful thing. “My mum and I were so close – she was my favourite person. “When she passed away in 2016, I felt like I had learnt so much. “It made sense to move forward it. “I have a different relationship with death now, but the fear will never completely go away. “I hate the idea that the days, weeks or months before dying are full of fear. “I really want to shift the experience to bring a sense of calm and peace.” Morgan spent two years caring for her mum after her brain tumour returned and started to wrap around her brain stem - causing her to lose her cognitive functions. She said: “She had been living with it for a long time and had been diagnosed when I was little. “It was growing back with a vengeance. “She slowly lost each function and by the end she was pretty much completely paralysed. “But she was sharp inside.” Morgan took a few years to grieve but continued to learn about death and the dying process in books. She said: “I knew I wanted to do something with what I was learning and my experience. “I was at a party, and someone mentioned death doulas. “I started researching and found there was a programme at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York which is where I was living at the time.” After just under a year of studying the pandemic hit and Morgan continued her learning online through a course with INELDA. She went on to take several other courses with Deadwives – a female founded collective teaching the narrative around death and dying. Morgan said: “They have such a great sense of humour – which is really important.” Morgan has now taken the plunge to become a death doula, alongside her acting career, and launched her website in February 2023. She said: “As a death doula we provide such a wide variety of services which can be tailored to each person. “I can help with paperwork and navigating the medical system. “Emotionally I help people process things and facilitate family conversations as well as talking to the dying person. “I ease fears and focus a lot on the care givers and how I can support them. “It may just be taking the dog for a walk or running an errand. “People get scared of a person dying but it is the time you should all come together.” Morgan will also support the family after the loss and makes sure they know there is time to “breathe” before jumping into organising a funeral. She also points out people’s misconceptions of death doulas. She said: “I think it can come across as a ‘woo woo thing’. “But it’s very grounded and rooted in just being humans together. “I’m happy to be as spiritual or not spiritual as people want.” Morgan says her family had their concerns about becoming a death doula. She said: “People were worried that it would make me really depressed. “But I love life so much that working on this death component feels really peaceful when I’m able to help with it. “It helped my healing process.”