Maintaining an Authentic Practice:
Supporting Marginalized Identities in Death
Davinah Simmons is a Black birth-worker based in Seattle, WA (unceded Duwamish Territory) with a background in counseling and development in a Higher Education context.
With several years of facilitation experience, Davinah is committed to furthering the healing and liberation those who are systemically oppressed in the healthcare system from birth to death by bringing education and truth to those who oppress. She infuses her personal shadow moments with rage, grief, and power to develop effective and meaningful learning opportunities through story-telling, dialogue, and humor.
Conversations with Shadows:
Seeing the Whole of Another
Dr. Claudelle Glasgow is a non-binary, queer, first-generation Trinidadian/Haitian with over 15 years as a clinical psychologist. They have practiced with Zen lineages before immersing in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage for over 10 years, where they were ordained as a Shambhala Buddhist Minister, teacher, and Meditation Instructor. Dr. G's views the sacred, the arts, and community as the ground of healing the internalized patterning Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) from surviving to thriving. The work focuses on the healing and transforming personal and intergenerational trauma, guiding rites and ritual of passage, and deeply experiencing the narratives of our experiences of birth, old age, sickness, and death/transition with humor, non-aggression, and deep compassion.
The Art of Seeing:
How Photography Honors Grief
Shannon MacFarlane is a grief enthusiast and artist who lives, loves, and plays in Tacoma, WA, with her family. She is a close companion with her grief, whom she fondly calls Deirdre. Shannon creates memorial art and tells stories through photography for families who want to honor and remain connected with those they love.
Illuminating the Role of Death in Life
Lyla Rothschild is the programs associate at the Ernest Becker Foundation (EBF). She has a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in French from Kalamazoo College. As early as she can remember, Lyla was extremely interested in human behavior and preoccupied with the concept of our mortality (as well as why no one else seemed to talk about or be bothered by it). After discovering Ernest Becker and its derived field of empirical research, she was amazed to see that there was a connection between our fear/denial of death and our tendencies towards group think, obsessively living up to arbitrary cultural standards, and hating those who are different from us. Lyla has five years of experience working as a research assistant in cognitive and social psychology labs. At the EBF, Lyla is working to spread awareness of the impacts that the denial of death has on the individual and societal level: the more we understand the human condition, the better we are able to cope with it.
Gently opening the Doorway to Existence: Psychedelics and Death
Alua Arthur is a death doula, attorney, and the founder of Going with Grace, an end of life planning and training organization that exists to support people as they answer the question 'What must I do to be at peace with myself so that I may live presently and die peacefully?'
From private end of life consultations and public education about death to online coursework to train death doulas, she is tirelessly committed to bringing awareness to death and dying. She passionately believes considering death can inspire the way people live. A jewelry addict, Alua is also a life lover, donut fanatic, and developing nation enthusiast. She is inspired by LIFE, the little joys we can find even in dark times, the freedom of authenticity, and the power in the word YES.
Community Partnerships: Creative Sustainable Engagement and Education
Lashanna has been a community organizer since high school. Gathering groups, small and large, with a shared cause for action, is in the fabric of the way she engages with people. Additionally, she gets to actively participate in life as a massage therapist, death doula, teacher, community organizer and mother.
As the new executive director of A Sacred Passing (ASP), Lashanna joins in the community collaboration, creating engaging and productive death and dying educational opportunities. There are not very many spaces that we have to go learn about death as a life event and ASP provides one.
Through conversations, learning and observation, she feels that the more we, collective inhabitants of the earth, are able to share conversation about death and dying, the better our living is.
Our Guide for the Day
Once upon a time Brian Flowers graduated from Western Washington University with a degree entitled “Orality & Mythology,” which is really just an academic way of saying “storytelling.” He has worked (more moonlighting these days) as performance storyteller for over 20 years. This set him on a long and winding path that eventually led to a career in the Green Burial Movement. He would be glad to tell you the story of that journey. Today Brian is the managing funeral director for Moles Farewell Tributes in Bellingham, WA and the Green Burial Coordinator for Greenacres Memorial Park, where he designed and developed The Meadow Natural Burial Ground. He has also served as The Board President for The Green Burial Council. Brian is a passionate advocate for family centered death care and the crafting of unique, relevant, contemporary rituals that make meaning of life’s profound experiences. Afterall, ritual can be the reenactment of story.
Partnering in Community
Stephanie holds a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, a Masters in Pastoral Studies, and has worked with volunteers in the non-profit sector for nearly 30 years. She has learned that life is a culmination of blessed moments and experiences. How she interpreted and used them has made her who she is today. Raised on the east coast and a true product of the 1980’s, a series of events and choices led her to find her passion walking along side others - working with men dying of AIDS; fighting broken systems; and journeying with families as a faith formation director and pastoral associate doing end of life/funeral planning. Radical choice and a possibility of bringing her AIDS work and pastoral background to an AIDS service organization brought her to Seattle in 2007. Her current role as Volunteer Service Manager at Bailey-Boushay House allows her to bring her to share her stories of love and loss, empowering volunteers with a new perspective on living and the importance of autonomy.
Death Over Lunch
Michael Hebb, the founder of DOD, is thrilled to host a “Death Over Lunch” at Une Bonne Mort. Since the project launched in 2013 Death Over Dinner (DOD) has inspired over 200,000 dinner conversations, giving people a simple and beautiful set of tools to have life’s most important conversation.
This project was created as a gift, an invitation and a simple set of tools to help families and friends address the basic human fact that we are all, at some point, going to die. We suffer more when we don’t communicate our wishes, we suffer less when we know how to honor the wishes of our loved ones. As we build greater comfort and literacy around this important topic, every single one of us wins.