A Sacred Passing (ASP) is a 501C-3 nonprofit founded as an educational resource for those seeking to learn more about death, grief, and dying-- as well as a space to build skills for those who choose to become death professionals, such as a doula, midwife, companion, or accompaniment.
In 2013, the organization was founded by a single director Ashley Benem in Bellingham, Washington. Ashely was an EMT who wanted to shift the ways that death is discussed in the community. Alongside other doulas and educators, Ashley used her experience as an EMT, massage therapist, and witch, to create the first written doula curriculum in the United States. In Bellingham, ASP also cultivated a collective of doulas who worked alongside the organization and provided death care to clients for a fee; this program was stopped in July 2019 as ASP began to reorganize.
Since 2018, the organization has shifted in a variety of significant ways. A Sacred Passing transitioned from Bellingham to create a nonprofit with many directors based in South Seattle. The nonprofit has blossomed alongside many local death workers, caretakers, and educators. Since then, ASP has adjusted its mission and vision to reflect our praxis of explicitly anti-oppressive curriculum and a volunteer-led structure through engaging in direct care, mutual aid, identity exploration, and other examples of community-led death care.
Our programs have expanded in the past two years to include the South Seattle No One Dies Alone (NODA) program, Listening Line, A Place to Die, and our growing selection of introductory and continuing education courses. The Une Bonne Mort conference further elevated our work in Seattle and has opened many doors for the future of the nonprofit, including fundraising, NODA volunteer training, and advocacy.
ASP has trained over 800 people in death care, doula skills, and support skills. This is in part a result of the small and large individual donations and volunteer labor contributions of the board of directors, and a variety of incredible educators, providers, community organizers, and helpers.
Yes! Together we are building curricula, training local funeral homes and medical organizations, and growing our base to expand ASP's educational and service offerings in South Seattle and online.
As we continue to deepen our commitments to community-centered death education, ASP will continue to pursue funding in order to keep our courses accessible, including working toward sustainable low-cost options and scholarships for low-income Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), and centering queer and trans people of color (QTPOC).
We are looking forward to meeting you and learning how we can share resources and time with one another. Our team is a small crew of folks with a variety of hats, so please allow for a slow pace in email and voicemail responses.