The End of Life Doula and VSED

Oct 31, 2019


Last week I recorded a new episode of the “Ask a Death Doula” Podcast dealing with a very sensitive subject that I have been receiving many questions about recently. The “Ask a Death Doula” Podcast is a weekly show hosted by me, Suzanne B. O’Brien RN.

In this episode of “Ask a Death Doula”, No Food for Thought -The VSED Option, I cover the topic of Voluntary Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) and the role of the End of Life Doula with a patient opting to implement VSED.

To listen to this episode, click here:

Ask a Death Doula

We have also written a blog about this topic that is very informative, and we urge you to read it if this is something you would like to understand more thoroughly. Here is an excerpt from the blog:

“What is VSED?

VSED stands for voluntarily stopping eating and drinking. It is an intentional decision to stop drinking liquids and eating food, for the specific purpose of causing death. It does not refer to stopping food and fluids provided by means of a feeding tube or to situations in which a patient has no appetite or is unable to eat or drink due to illness or disease. Time until death depends on a patient’s underlying physical condition and disease state, but typically takes place within 5 to 21 days, with the median time of death occurring 7 days after implementation. The cause of death is dehydration.

VSED is different from medical aid in dying, which has been legalized in very few jurisdictions and still carries large legislative and regulatory hurdles. Because of the minimal laws clarifying the status of medical aid in dying and the contrast of VSED to the definition of medical aid in dying, it remains an obscure, yet an important option for terminally ill patients. This is because there is no need to affirmatively legalize VSED, as patients already have well-established rights to reject unwanted medical interventions. Therefore, VSED falls into a de facto area of legality. Also, since there is no authorizing statute for VSED, there are no written or legal restrictions against its use. The result is that, from a legal standpoint, patients have greater access to voluntary stopping eating and drinking than to medical aid in dying services.”

To read the full blog post, click here:



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Free Doulagivers Life Class Webinar Monday, November 11th at 7pm ET. To register for this webinar, CLICK HERE.

Free Doulagivers 90 Minute Level 1 End of Life Doula Live Webinar Training Thursday, November 14th at 7pm ET. To register for this webinar, CLICK HERE.

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