A FRIEND TO THE DYING

Death doulas spend their time helping people die as peacefully as possible. One of the early death doulas at St Joseph’s Home was Canossian Sister Rita Jaswant who started her vocation in the mid-1980s. Here, she shares her journey with us.

On helping patients finish unfinished business: I realised this when I was taking care of a dying man who needed assurance of forgiveness. I noticed that this dying man’s wife also seemed very aloof.

Then one day, I heard the wife said, “You can go. I forgive you. You have permission.” From then, I realised that there was hurt between the couple…

On a patient’s dying wish: He said he didn’t want his family around when he dies because he didn’t want them to feel upset. I promised him that I would carry out this favour … true enough, the man died about 20 minutes after they left. I called to inform them.

“People often like to ask me, ‘Sister, how can you manage being with the dying? Death is so depressing.’ But I say, No lah!…It is my privilege to be with the patients till their last breath.” – Sr Rita

On interacting with patients of a different religion: We treat them all the same. Someone who wants to do this job must be very convinced of God’s love. We do this job not for conversion, but for the patient to recognise the Creator so that the patient can die peacefully.

This excerpt was taken from St Joseph’s Home’s 40th anniversary commemorative magazine
www.stjh.org.sg