Jill is a native to Los Angeles, California and has a deep love for the City of Angels. She’s lived there most of her life, leaving only to be educated in the South. After receiving a BA in History, Jill worked at the Mordecai Historic House in Raleigh, North Carolina.
It was during her time there she was first impacted by death. Her experiences then lead her to pursue her Master's Degree and career in end-of-life care. With a benevolent work ethic, years of clinical experience and unique personal background, Jill is an exceptional guide to those facing end of life.
This interview is part of our exploration into the theme of Aging. For more stories on the dying process, check out Right, before I die, a piece we published that features portraits and interviews with people on their deathbed.
Jill Schock is a professional death doula. While the word “doula” is traditionally used in the context of childbirth, Jill saw a need for the role of the doula in the dying process as well, believing that having an emotional and spiritual guide could help individuals and their families prepare for and move through the death experience. Part of what allowed her to see this need was her own experience with loss, which revealed to her that Western medical models leave much to be desired in the way they handle death. Her business, Death Doula LA, assists the dying in everything from paperwork to planning living funerals as a way of helping families grieve and find closure before the final goodbye. As a certified non-denominational chaplain who has worked in hospice care, she has helped individuals from all different walks creatively face their own end-of-life experience in a way that feels authentic and unique to them.
The concept of a death doula intrigued us within the context of our aging theme, because so much of the suffering that accompanies aging can be traced to a deeper fear and avoidance of death. This fear and resistance makes the dying and grieving processes that much more challenging and taboo. But of course, death is one of the few universal human experiences, so why shouldn’t we treat it head on, with honesty and transparency, honoring the culmination of a life? And if we can do this, rethink the way we treat death, will that reshape the way we treat aging, too? As someone who is actively changing the way people face their final experiences on Earth, Jill has much wisdom to share on how confronting death and aging through conversation and practice can be an empowering and beautiful part of what it means to be alive.