Marion Willms Bio

Departure Nurse Marion Willms has extensive experience as a registered nurse. For fifteen years she worked as RN in a variety of clinical settings (including acute care) and in the community. Prior going back to school and obtaining her RN, she has also been working as Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) for two years and as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) in long-term care for ten years. As a part of her career in nursing, Marion frequently had to care for patients in their last stages of life. Years of nursing experience had taught her to be comfortable with death and dying patients as they depart from this life.

As a nurse, Marion has discovered her passion for supporting individuals in dying well as a part of her clinical practise. The personal journey of discovering her passion for Marion started from grieving. After the death of her mother in 2010, Marion began asking questions of “how people die?” In attempt to find answers, she attended Orphan Wisdom school taught by Stephen Jenkinson for three years and completed the Contemplative End of Life course offered through the Institute for Traditional Medicine in Toronto in 2013-2014.

The End of Life course allowed Marion to start contemplating her own calling towards supporting someone at the end of their lives. Upon completion of this course, Marion recognized this calling and was encouraged by both friends and colleagues to develop her business as a Thanadoula (death midwife).

Both courses have brought Marion to recognize that individuals can die well. An individual can die feeling safe, realising that they will be cared for and remembered, and depart peacefully knowing that their wishes will be respected.

Marion is deeply concerned about the over-medicalization of the end of life care. She believes in value of providing holistic care for each patient. Marion also finds it concerning that the majority of dying individuals do not have any choice in how, where and under what circumstances they want to die. She is deeply committed to engage in conversations early about end of life planning, Power of Attorney for personal care and finance, and about what death means to each person.

Passionate about supporting her patients, Marion has a deep desire to hold space for others. She does so by opening her heart, letting go of judgement, allowing each individual to immerse in their last moments and directing her complete undivided attention to the individual. She cultivates her open-minded attitude by practising yoga, developing her own rituals, and deepening her personal spiritual growth.

Marion is passionate about public education in encouraging each person to contemplate their own values and beliefs about death. She continues to have frequent conversations with all her clients about their individual departure plans and keeps being engaged with professionals in palliative care and death midwife movement.

Marion’s desire to support and provide care extends beyond the national and cultural borders. She has done 8 international short-term development projects, including volunteering in a clinic after hurricane Katrina, working for three weeks in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and organizing trips for health care providers to provide medical care in rural mountain villages in El Salvador.

Marion is ready to provide full care of the individual in their dying time. Because she is a practising RN registered with the College of nurses of Ontario, she is trained in both alternative and medical interventions in relieving the symptoms at the end of life.

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