ABOUt Dying well
to provide support, education, and empowerment for end of life planning, the dying time, and after death care
to return dying and death to its sacred place in human living so that human cultures overcome death phobia and embrace dying well as a vital part of living well
Core Values & Beliefs
Death is a transition in the course of life.
Planning for the dying time can help us grow more fully into life.
Death Doulas and Conscious Dying Educators serve the dying, their supporting communities, and medical care givers, in addition to any wider communities who are touched by the dying.
Conscious dying work seeks to increase beauty and healing, provide emotional and spiritual support, initiate conversations about the dying process, demystify the stages of dying, acknowledge and make room for mysteries and unexplained events, help others be with intense emotion, honor other's beliefs while staying true to one's own, be a steward of conscious death, attend at bedside, and empower the dying's community to take direct action in their comfort and healing care.
Everyone needs access to conscious dying materials and information. Knowledge is power. Experience is living.
We are always learning; we are always growing up.
ABOUt Carolyn Coleman
In his manifesto Die Wise, Stephen Jenkinson proclaims, "Dying is active. Dying is not what happens to you. Dying is what you do.” Humanity needs to learn how to do this, to die. We need to learn how to die well because dying well is key to living well.
I am a death doula and a conscious dying educator. I can help you die well by helping you befriend your death. I can teach you to be present to others so they can die well. I can suggest to you the benefits of sorrow and make space for your grief. I can lead you through and help you reflect on and plan for your dying time. All these will help you live well.
While I have been an ordained Episcopal priest since 2007, I have two degrees and a lifelong interest in the academic study of religion, especially Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and some shamanic traditions. My experience pastoring a parish during a season of frequent and sometimes traumatic death led me to pursue more training in grief counseling and the “industry” of dying.
During my certification as a death doula I discovered something familiar yet unarticulated in my life. The kind of intentional conversations, gentle observations, and meaningful silence I experienced there and in my clergy work are the social and emotional environments in which I feel most at home. Showing up to the hard moments in life is my way of living well.
I am a guide, a companion along the way, and a quiet presence to have on your way home.
About what we offer
Talking about dying and death is neither morbid nor negative. On the contrary, talking about dying and death affirms life. Life affirming discussions demonstrate one's ability to show up to the incontrovertible fact of human mortality. Death-phobic culture, supported by fear of failure and a preoccupation with success, attempts to skirt and hide this fact. Yet our ability to be vulnerable, to have the hard conversations about dying and death, about grief and broken-heartedness--this ability empowers us to embrace our humanity and sojourn through full, abundant lives.
At Dying Well, I encourage you to bring your questions and reflections about the dying time, yours and others. However practical or philosophical these inquiries will ultimately contribute to how your spend your living time.
The beauty of this work lies in what you bring to it.
I can help you make concrete end of life plans and guide you regarding the final disposition of your body after death. The Dying Well planning tool for end of life care arrangements that I use invites you to dig as deep as you wish to address a number of life's domains, especially your relationships, your spiritual life, and your story. The deeper you dig, the more life you will find.
The "positive death" or "conscious dying" movement has been underway for several years now, bringing all manner of ways that return dying and death to its sacred place in human culture. Choosing to spend the dying time at home, celebrating a home funeral, environmentally sustainable burial--these traditions and practices were once common. We need to re-learn them and become acquainted with new ways of providing caring and healing to the dying and their supporting communities. Let me share with you what I have learned about these traditions; teach me what you know so we may share with others.
A Series for Caregivers
If you are a medical caregiver, a faith leader, or a direct caregiver for the dying and their supporting community, I offer you some skills that can assist your communications, equipping you with a caring confidence you can employ. You will find that these skills not only help you care and serve patients, congregants, and loved ones, but you will find that they assist you in caring for yourself through this work.
In his manifesto Die Wise, Stephen Jenkinson writes, "To be heartbroken isn't a diagnosis. It's a skill." I have been well acquainted with grief in my life. I excel at broken heartedness. Because of what I have learned about grief from Jenkinson, Francis Weller, Martín Pretchel, my gardens, Jesus of the Gospels, my life, and my dogs - mainly that being able to grieve means I am able to love - I know that I also excel at praise and celebration. This mastery equips me with a deep capacity for holding sadness and sorrow alongside others. I am one not afraid "to go there." Like talking about dying and death can help us grow more fully alive, showing up to your grief can grow your soul, to paraphrase psychologist Carl Jung.
Book discussions, Grief Deck meditations, and Grief Circles invite you to show up to your grief, share however you wish, including silent presence, and be held by others journeying the via negativa, what psychotherapist Francis Weller calls the grief journey.