A Sacred Passing will introduce a wide array of options for end-of-life care.
We offer planning, education, coaching and facilitation to fully support your end-of-life choices.
We help you have the highest quality of life possible right up to the end.
We are a supportive companion and guide to assist you towards a more conscious dying experience.
As a Non-profit Corporation, designated by IRS code 501c3, we are grateful to receive any donation you may feel inspired to offer and are happy to send you a receipt for your taxes.
How can we help?
The goal of the Sacred Passing team is to assist you in making plans early in your life for what you would like done as you come to your end-of-life. We can help you write up those plans, get organized, have the conversation with your family and support network, connect you with resources you may need along your journey and be there to support you and your loved ones in the dying process and into the final resting of your body and the healing process of the ones left behind.
The team at A Sacred Passing are grounded, loving, compassionate people who speak with one voice and provide a unified level of care and presence.
The Sacred Passing team works hand in hand with local Hospice and Palliative care teams as well as other health care practitioners and care partners. We strive to create an interconnected web of support for end-of-life care.
Though A Sacred Passing does not provide medical care, we are happy to help connect you to the resources you need medically.
You don’t have to be at the end-of-life to use A Sacred Passing. It is best to have your thoughts and plans about the future well defined and redefined as you go through all stages of life.
The vigil or wake, happens when the body of the deceased is kept at home for up to three days. The 4 main reason for doing a vigil are these: In this process we honor the spirit of the deceased, it creates a deeper connection into and through the grieving cycle for the family and friends, helps bring death back as a natural process into the community culture and lastly, support the absorption of the sacred elements back to source.
What is a Death Midwife?
A Death Midwife is a trained professional with expertise and skills in supporting the dying person and their support network of family, loved ones and friends, to maintain the highest quality of life during the end-of-life process. Death Midwives are often called Home Funeral Guides.
Death Midwives provide the dying person with individualized care uniquely suited to their physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs. They are a non-medical supportive companion and guide to assist the dying person toward a more conscious dying experience. A Death Midwife usually offers a variety of options and seeks to minimize unnecessary interventions at the end of life.
Scope of Practice
- Believes that death and dying are a normal life process.
- Understands the physiology of death and the emotional needs of the dying.
- Assists the dying person preparing for and carrying out the death plan.
- Stays by the side of the dying person throughout the dying process.
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint and assistance to the dying person in getting the information they need to make good decisions.
- Facilitates communication between the dying person, their support network and the medical providers.
- They often help the dying to leave the body in the most graceful, supported manner possible.
- Can offer spiritual support as appropriate for the dying person and supporters.
- Empowers families to reclaim the healing ritual of a home vigil or wake and the
possibility of a funeral at home.
- Preparing the body for burial or cremation.
- Filling out the death-related paperwork such as death certificate.
- Can help facilitate the transportation of the body.
- Can help facilitate the final disposition.
Team Members Bios:
A peek at a few of our crew members.
Ashley Benem LMP, Death Midwife, Minister
Ashley is a licensed massage therapist, Death Midwife and Minister. She is the owner of A Sacred Passing: Death Midwifery Service in Bellingham Washington. She is the creator of the Art of Death Exhibition and Conference and has had the privilege of serving on several steering committees and action groups to support the shift towards a more human centered Palliative and End of Life Care practice. She has been one of the organizers for the Whatcom County chapter of the Death Café. She also offers training in Death Midwifery Care.
Ashley has been working with the sick and injured since 1991.She initially received training as an EMT and Paramedic, working for many years on an ambulance crew. Later, after the birth of her son, she became a licensed as a massage therapist and Birth Doula spending several years focused on empowering the birth experience for families. Feeling that come to its still point, Ashley has followed the energetic pendulum swing to care for the other end of life’s cycle, working to empower families through the dying process. She has had extensive training as a home funeral guide including: being present, grounded, knowledgeable, skilled and compassionate with coaching families on the options and practical application of skills surrounding the end of life process.
Duncan Saunders, Death Doula, Minister, Celtic Harper Therapist M.A./A.B.S.
Duncan is a Celtic harper who uses the harp to bring comfort, care and easing of distress and pain for individuals who are in hospitals, palliative care and hospice. He began his research and studies into harp therapy 30 years ago, exploring the work of The Chalice of Respose, the inspiration by Tina Tourin of the International Harp Therapy program and the work done by Music-Thanatologists.
He knows from years of personal experience and clinical research and documentation that the harp brings a singular form of healing who hear the music. It is both a joy and a service to bring the harp to the bedsides and presence of those in pain, distress and facing difficult passages of life and death. He has a Master’s degree in counseling and 12 years experience working in psychiatric units and hospital wards. As well as being a Minister and Death Doula. This work with the harp is only amplified by Duncan’s presence of gentle compassion as he sits with the family of a dying person.
Helga DeLiban Death Doula, Minister, LVN, AA
Helga is a dedicated and compassionate woman with extensive experience as a Licensed Vocational nurse for the past 28 years. She is a Reiki Master and certified in Touch for Health.
In 2004 Helga’s husband of 32 years died suddenly. Her grief overwhelmed her and she turned inward to find insight. In that process Helga felt her husband’s presence and her communications with him led her to a transformation in body, mind, and spirit. Since 2009 she has been a volunteer with Whatcom Hospice and at Whatcom Hospice House. Helga strives to cultivate presence and personal awareness in death, dying and living well embrace the power of their spirit within.
Rev. Nancy Simmers, Death Doula, RN, BSN
Nancy has always has been fascinated with spiritual perspectives and the many faces and expressions of the Divine. Raised in a Midwestern Presbyterian family, she joined the Society of Friends while in college. A two-year Peace Corps stint in West Africa widened her appreciation of cultures and spiritual practices. While living in Washington DC, she became a member of a local Zendo and found herself drawn to quiet contemplative meditation and chanting. Another perspective was added when she married a Jewish man from Brooklyn NY, and with him raised two sons in a reform-Jewish congregation. Nancy was ordained a minister in 2001 and continue to explore and share her spiritual journey and practice.
During her 30+ years nursing career, she devoted herself to the wellbeing of mothers and babies, working in many settings – from staff nurse at a large university medical center to being a second pair of hands helping local midwives at homebirths. She enjoyed most was visiting people in their own homes and developing a rapport with the whole family.
In the same way she strove to consciously choose for herself a way of birthing that worked for her and professionally advocated for all women to make their own best choices, she now wants to advocate for a conscious death for anyone and everyone who chooses it. As she supported the partners and children of laboring women, she strive to support and encourage the friends and loved-ones of those who are dying.
Sage Waters, LMP, Death Doula, Minister
Interested in overcoming fears around death, Sage volunteered in 2000 with PeaceHealth Whatcom Hospice as a Massage Therapist comfort care provider. The many home and nursing facility visits to hospice patients have given her an appreciation for those caring for their loved ones at home. Of five siblings, she was the only one sitting with both of her parents at their deaths; this gave her a calling to learn how best to be helpful at these transition moments.
Thomas McCarthy, Death Doula, Minister
Tom recently moved from Seattle to Bellingham to pursue his dream of supporting individuals and their loved ones with end-of-life care as a Death Midwife. Previously, he has worked with elementary school children through Head Start and with developmentally disabled adults transitioning out of full-time care and into semi-independent living. For the past several years, Tom has been working in the building industry and is now seeking to transition to end of life care, where he feels called to serve.
Through a series of personal experiences with illness, suffering, death and grief, Tom has developed a deeper sense of appreciation for life and most especially for those last precious moments leading up to the end of life and beyond.
Elaine Evans, Death Doula, CNA
Eliane has had a long standing desire to assist people transitioning to death and the afterlife and to provide comfort and support to their families during this challenging time. Her interest in caregiving started in childhood, originally caring for her Great-Grandmother in the summers, while her Grandmother worked. In later years after raising her own sons she went back to school to become a licensed CNA. She has worked for Visiting Angels, Senior Support Services and Northwest Regional Council as a caregiver. She now brings her wealth of knowledge to being a private CNA caregiver. She is excited about being part of the Sacred Passing crew.
Anita Moore, Death Doula, Birth Doula, Reiki Master, Minister
From a young age Anita was intrigued by and curious of experiences she had with the dying and death process of people and animals. As a teen Anita became passionate in learning about and working with those living with special circumstances and knew she wanted to work with those needing care. Thus began her 25+yrs of dedicated service working in diverse medical, academic, community and home care settings. She became trained as a Teacher Assistant, Life Skills Counselor, CNA/Private Caregiver, Birth Doula, Home School Educator, Reiki Master and Death Doula. These experiences helped shape her into the thoughtful, knowledgeable, intuitive person she is today. With strong interest in complementary and alternative healthcare, Anita earned her Reiki Master Degree in 2006 and began her practice with focus on providing Reiki to those at home, in care centers, hospitals and those needing end-of-life care.
Katherine Kipps, Death Doula, RYT, LMP, Minister, Reiki Master
Katherine came to her curiosity around death and dying as a young girl when she was a part of her mother’s dying process. That experience was the catalyst for a lifelong sense of wonder and awe of the infinite world beyond life.
She began her inquiry into the spirit world through yoga and the healing arts, a practice that led her to teach at retreat centers, clinics and with unlikely clients around the world. After a decade of dedicated study, including a BA with a focus in Nonprofit work, licensing as a Massage Practitioner and becoming a Certified Yoga Instructor, she learned that through this offering she was serving as an advocate toward more connective and healthy lifestyles that truly honor the cycle of existence. She connected with the mission of A Sacred Passing through the Art of Death Conference, and continued on to receive her Death Doula training.
Kristi Krein, Death Doula, Minister
Kristi’s interest in doula work was sparked by her extensive background in home care. Working for years in this field has helped her understand the great need in our culture for loving, dignified care for those in need of assistance and that comprehensive, quality care can happen in the comfort and safety of our own homes. She is currently certified as a HCA by DSHS and continues to study compassionate care for alzheimer’s, dementia, and palliative care.
Reverence for the human body and its natural cycles awakened while Kristi studied dance and somatics at Western Washington University. She currently works as a freelance performance artist and dancer, teaching creative movement workshops at conferences and studios across the country. Her love of movement has shown her the sacred freedom of living and dying fully embodied and the deeply therapeutic nature of dance.
Completing her Master’s degree in Linguistics at the University of Washington as well as a lifetime of global travel experience has taught Kristi the value of cultural competency and sensitivity. She delights in the spectrum of cultural possibility and seeks in every area of her work to recognize and honor the beliefs and practices of those around her with an open, learning, celebratory heart.