On Becoming a Doula

Wm. “Anthony” Connolly, PhD, CEOLD, created this consulting practice in 2020 to service the greater Delaware area. After serving as a graduate level writing and spiritual memoir professor, Anthony found his calling to provide end of life services to the community he now calls home with his wife Dyan and their two therapy dogs, Story and Leo. 

It began with a newspaper article. In 2003, Anthony had just finished a morning run and was sitting reading the New York Times. In the paper that day was an article about a man who volunteered to sit with a dying man who had no family or friends to hold his hand and be present as he died. No one should die alone.

Several deaths close to Anthony’s heart impacted him greatly over the years, and he saw in each lessons on dying which included great moments of beauty, of wonder but also missed opportunities and he began to think about how our society approaches the dying process.

No one has to die alone. And there can be moments of beauty, wonder and opportunities to fulfill legacies and honor the life lived as we go through the process of dying.

He remembers fishing on the banks of a wild river while attending the funeral of a close friend, a writer who loved to spend endless hours casting a line into the waters. He remembers reading The National Enquirer with a relative and dabbing beer on her lips one afternoon in the hospital just days before her passing. He remembers being able to see his brother, who lived in another country, and saying goodbye, before the body was cremated.

Death impacts us. Impacts us all. It cannot be avoided.

No one has to die alone. And there can be moments of beauty, wonder and opportunities to fulfill legacies and honor the life lived as we go through the process of dying.

Wm. Anthony Connolly was awarded his PhD in English from the University of Missouri with a major in Creative Non-Fiction Writing. Connolly also holds Master of Fine Arts from Goddard College and an undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Winnipeg. He became a certified end of life doula in 2020, trained by the International End of Life Doula Association and certified by the International Association of Professional Death Doulas.