Hi, My name is Melissa “Mel” McClave.

We lean on many experts to help us throughout life- teachers, coaches, mentors, and advisors. I’m an expert in the last phase of our life: death.

I’m a Death Doula and advocate for the most loving end-of-life experience possible for the dying and their loved ones.

I was inspired to follow this calling in 2017 when I was invited by my teacher and friend, Claudia Mulcahy, to witness the power she wielded over her own dying and memorial process. From Claudia, I learned that communicating your wishes at the end of life and how you want your contributions to the world to be remembered by those who know you and generations to come is the last act of love you can give your loved ones. Since 2018, I’ve helped over 100 people create an atmosphere of love for themselves and their loved ones during treatments, crossover, memorials, and legacy work. Although every death ends the same, you can customize your setting and rituals to reflect best the dying and how they lived.

Claudia Mulcahy

My philosophy

I work with people all over the world to focus on the loving connections that are the underpinning of our relationships. Whether your loved one has two legs or four, I can help navigate the dying process for all concerned.

My death doula training

I began my death doula training by attending the first “Time To Die Symposium, Transitioning From Hospice to Death.” It was a hands-on, full-day workshop hosted by death doula Jill Schock ( deathdoulala.com), death doula Alua Arthur ( goingwithgrace.com), and mortician Amber Carvaly (clarityfunerals.com). The first module covered the hospice team approach to patient care, POLST forms, and Advance Health Care Directives. The second module covered the ten crucial questions to ask yourself as you prepare for death. The final module covered the rules and regulations that guide body disposition in California.

In October 2018, I completed in-person End-of-Life Doula training through the International End Of Life Doula Association (INELDA) (INELDA.org) in Marina Del Rey, CA. The course was intensive and informative and helped me identify my strengths in death care, which are at the foundation of my practice.

Time to Die Symposium Workbook

INELDA Training Manual Cover

Continued education

In 2019, I was introduced to the world of Palliative Care when I attended CalState San Marcos Shiley Institute of Palliative Care’s (CSUSM) (www.csupalliativecare.org) San Diego’s 4th Annual Palliative Care Conference and the National Symposium “Advancing Palliative Care: Leading into the Future.” In 2022, I attended San Diego’s 5th Annual Palliative Care Conference, “Building Bridges: Connecting Our Communities to Palliative Care.”

During the Covid shutdown in 2020, CSUSM encouraged palliative care advocates to take online courses. I completed the following eleven courses:
  • Working with POLST
  • Sharing Serious News
  • What Every Health Professional Needs to Know about Palliative Care
  • Communication Strategies for Shared and Informed Decision Making
  • Introduction to Primary Palliative Care
  • Care of the Patient at the End of Life
  • Facilitating on Advance Care Planning Conversation
  • Effective Advance Care Planning Fundamentals
  • Integrating Advance Care Planning into Your Medical Practice
  • Crisis Intervention Concepts
  • Crisis Intervention Strategies

In 2021, I completed the “Multidisciplinary Certificate in Pediatric Palliative Care” offered by CSUSM. It gave me insight into the dying process of children, its effects on the child, and how the death of a child affects the family as a whole.

In 2022, I completed online Aid-In-Dying training for end-of-life doulas offered by the American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying ACAMAID.

Professional organizations

I’ve been a member in good standing with the International End Of Life Doula Association (INELDA) (INELDA.org) since January 2019, and have a listing in their Death Doula Directory

2019 is the year the National End-Of-Life Doula Alliance (www.nedalliance.org) was founded. Since its inception, I have had a listing in their Doula directory.

My volunteer work

Hospice By The Sea

My relationship as a volunteer with Hospice By The Sea (www.hospicebythesea.org) began in November 2018 and is still going strong. I'm privileged to be a member of their No One Dies Alone (NODA) program and a regular in-person volunteer visitor bringing relief and comfort to the dying and their loved ones.

Compassion and Choices

I support Compassion and Choices’ mission to improve care, expand options, and empower everyone to plan and record their end-of-life journey. I advocate for their planning tools, represent them at local events, attend their volunteer training seminars, and ask my elected officials to continue to pass laws that allow for greater choice at the end of life. In addition, I facilitate Advance Care Planning workshops.

Death Cafe

After attending a few pre-pandemic, in-person Death Cafes, I decided I wanted to host Death Cafes too. In the spring of 2020, I was invited to cohost a Virtual Death Cafe with my Death Cafe partner, Frank Stefano. I now host three Death Cafes every month, two virtual and one in-person. Please RSVP on the Death Cafe website to join us, or email me and I’ll send you a link.

Hemlock Society of San Diego

I became a volunteer with the Hemlock Society of San Diego in 2024. I host bi-monthly Hemlock Circles for society members and the public who want free discussions around dying and death. We share resources, have agendas, and promote services. Send me an email and I'll add you to the Hemlock Circle notification list.

World Design Capital 2024

Eva Navarrete, and I co-host dual language Advance Care Planning workshop for the bi-national design initiative, WDC2024. Our workshops, "Compassionate Conversations/Conversaciones Compasivas" aim to initiate end-of-life conversations among families and communities. The English-Spanish workshop is April 16, 2024 in San Diego, while the Spanish-English workshop is October 30,2024 in Tijuana. Email me for more more information.