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).
A Sacred Passing (ASP) serves the Pacific Northwest and those throughout the country that participate in educational offerings through online opportunities, social media, and video teleconferences. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we held-in person death-care education classes in Washington (Seattle and Bellingham), and provided services in homes, recovery centers, senior centers, schools, tent cities, shelters, parks, and coffee shops.
We collaborate with artists, doulas, and multi-talented volunteers internationally, and ASP’s core volunteer team currently lives in what has come to be known as Seattle, WA, with much of the work happening in South Seattle. This land is the stolen ancestral home of the Duwamish and Coast Salish Peoples. We must all do our part to care for all of earth in the community through honoring life and death together.
You might already be! A Sacred Passing understands that death companions work in a variety of settings and with a variety of clients. Currently, there is no federal regulation of the doula profession and no universally accepted competencies.
Whether you seek to learn about death care for the first time or to grow your skills, A Sacred Passing’s curriculum might interest you. Descriptions of courses are listed on our website education page. If you are interested in continuing education and community conversation spaces, see our event calendar and eventbrite page.
Other organizations teach death doulas from their own curricular models. A Sacred Passing is a nonprofit organization based in traditional Duwamish land (Seattle, Washington). Learn more about us here. Other organizations’ curricula differ from one another in a wide variety of ways, so compare ours with others to find the best fit for your interests, and please reach out to us if you have more questions. r to this item.
As an organization, we advocate and develop community-based death education as an alternative to for-profit or corporate models. Community care is a part of liberation work. We teach and practice death care in the relationship with others and advocate against isolating care work to a capitalist model. Our curriculum includes history and grieving of present patterns of violence in death care to, because accountability and truth-telling are a part of our educational values. Our work is done in local networks and interconnected webs because this is a way of creating accountability together, and so much violence must end for death care to truly be safe, autonomous, and good. Death care education is always needed and relevant. All ASP events, grief spaces, and curriculum create time for each person to bring and weave in the experiences they have already had on their path-- all experiences, stories, and paths are welcome.
There are a variety of ways to engage in accountability and ethical models of care. While some institutions may choose internally to require standards in training, pursuing certification is a choice. Currently, there is no federal regulation of the doula profession and no universally accepted competencies. All death-care workers should know that at this time, all certifying organizations and programs are offering a program-based standard, which is not the same as a professional credential. Though many programs offer certifications to demonstrate completion, no one is legally required to be certified to practice as a death doula (doula, end-of-life doula, death companion) in the United States.
ASP understands that death companions work in a variety of settings and with a variety of clients. Certification is not for everyone and, for some, creates barriers to learning or practicing death care. Research across disciplines has shown many certifying powers institutionalize practices of violent language, practices, or patterns. Some state legislation proposes regulations regarding doula certification that aims to increase access to families who could not otherwise afford services, but implementation often means reproducing a system of gatekeeping. It is our belief that certification doesn’t necessarily reduce harm, but accountability and authenticity in the community can do that. Our board of directors values the importance of naming certification for what it is, a tool to legitimize ancestral work in the eyes of the state.
Always provide attribution for the source of information and reach out to ASP directly for information and permission to share materials that are created by ASP. Both are important and one will not substitute for the other.
If you peek around the website, you'll notice that many of our curricula and programs now have a copywrite © associated with them. The simplest definition of copyright is an ownership right given to authors that allows them to control, protect, and use their artistic works. Please always credit artists and teachers, and reach out if you have questions!
Learn more: https://www.copyright.gov/title17/
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 (2-3 weeks for correspondence unless it is time-sensitive) in email and voicemail responses.
Text: DIEWELL to 22828 to add yourself to our email list!
phone: (206) 494-0023
listening line: 800-565-9731
© 2022 A Sacred Passing. All rights reserved.
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