ABOUT SARAH

It is a gift to have work that stretches my capacity for connection in this world. I love what I do. Sharing space with folks in moments of vulnerability and strength, and bearing witness to clients' boldness of character, is a special privilege that I hold with gratitude and joy.

If you're interested, here is some of my background, including how I entered and became passionate about the deathcare and bodywork fields:

A sensitive child, I easily felt lonely and isolated growing up, especially in my daily struggles with mental illness. Though my community was not overtly spiritual or religious, I leaned into my own spiritual life as a way of accessing my inner strength and intuition. Experiencing flickering moments of the divine in the world around me, I realized that I needed to foster a lifestyle in which my soul was nourished and I could exercise my intuition and connect deeply with others. I yearned to find a lifestyle in which I could be open about this, and I dreamt of doing work in which I could use my full self for good, rather than being expected to siphon off my intellect or my spirit or my body.

I searched for paths that included bringing my whole self to my work. I gratefully first found this as a teenager, when I had my first caregiving job, at a L'Arche community. I picked up and moved to Mobile, Alabama, where I lived in community with folks with and without intellectual disabilities, and we all provided care for each other. It was my introduction to providing personal care, and to living intentional community. There I had space to embody my human vulnerability and feel held and exercise my potential in holding others.

Since then, I've lived and worked in various justice-oriented and care-oriented communities. My caregiving jobs varied, as personal assistants for adults and children with intellectual and physical disabilities in different settings. I worked with homeless folks and lived in a Catholic Worker community. I went to college at Smith College and Gallaudet University, and I chose to major in Philosophy and Afro-American Studies, with a special foci on Disability Studies and Deaf Studies. It remains important to me to educate myself about the specific context in which justice and injustice can be pursued and perpetuated in these care positions. All of these lenses of understanding the world and its human beings have deeply informed my work as a doula to the dying, home funeral guide, and a bodyworker. I am grateful to my teachers, academic, spiritual, and otherwise, who nourished my understanding of how justice and care-providing work are inherently intersected. Now, I value the work I do as a unique form of activist work.

Since 2012, I've been involved as a nurse's aide with Joseph's House, providing direct care at this small healing community of homeless and unstably housed folks, some of whom are hospice patients and dying, and some of whom are very sick, but surviving and getting better and getting back on their feet. At Joseph's House, we proudly pay special attention to racial and class justice, HIV justice, and mindful and compassionate care. I lived in the house in my last year and a half as a staff member there, and I cherish this time in my heart. (I often drive across town and sleep over at the house these days, because I miss it so much!)

Joseph's House supported me in attending and graduating from the Metta Institute, a Buddhist-based training program for end-of-life practitioners. This was an amazing opportunity--I was the only nurse's aide in my cohort, surrounded by nurses and doctors and social workers. In this life-changing year and a half program, I deepened my capacities of self-awareness, mindfulness, and compassionate care. I gained confidence in my inner and outer skills. My devotion to justice and care work has been solidified in my connection with Metta and JHouse. I continue to be intimately involved in both communities; and I consider Joseph's House to be my family here in DC.

I decided to attend massage therapy school at Potomac Massage Training Institute in 2016, and am so excited to start this work as a professional licensed massage therapist in July of 2017. My passion about body-mind-spirit work continues to grow as my awareness and skills become more sophisticated.

Also in 2016, I decided to start my own business focusing on deathcare and justice and bodywork. And here we are!

In my free time, you can find me laying in the grass in conversation with friends; attempting various DIY projects; enjoying queer community; cuddling with my beloved senior pup, Malakai; and slowly scouring thrift and antique stores.

I cherish the opportunity to hold space together.


"Deafhood v.2" by Nancy Rourke

"Deafhood v.2" by Nancy Rourke

DEAF COMMUNITY

I've learned so much from the Deaf community. I became intensely interested in ASL and Deaf culture as a young hearing child. I begged my mother to take me to the library again and again, so I could check out books and videotapes about Deaf culture and attempt to teach myself as much signing as I could. As an undergraduate, I transferred to Gallaudet University in my senior year, because I had exhausted the ASL classes at my college. At Gallaudet, I focused my studies on Deaf Studies and Deaf Bioethics. I created an independent study to pursue deeper work in Deaf Bioethics and to assist my professor in her work as a Deaf activist in the field of Philosophy and as an advisor to the NAD. My experience of the Deaf community and at Gallaudet has informed my way of being ever since. I am so grateful.

As a hearing person in solidarity with the Deaf community, and an ally committed to working against audism in the end-of-life and bodywork fields (and elsewhere), it is an honor to offer my services to Deaf folks and their loved ones. I sign; I've been immersed in Deaf culture; and I've been exposed to cultural norms, the joys of Deaf gain, and the challenges of structural and individual audism. I'm excited to be able to accompany Deaf, deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals from many different walks of life in their dying, grieving, healing, and honoring journeys.

Most of all, my aim with regard to the Deaf community is this: I seek with humility to offer space for Deaf-led deathcare, funerals, and bodywork sessions. I'd like to simply offer the support and information needed to enable easeful, graceful experiences, and then step back and simply hold space, so folks I work with to feel empowered to do things in their own way.

If you are D/deaf or Hard of Hearing, and interested in my services, I encourage you to contact me. I can meet in person in the DMV area, and am also available for contact through video chat, email, texting, or phone through VRS.


"Plantation Burial" by John Antrobus, 1860

"Plantation Burial" by John Antrobus, 1860

SOCIAL JUSTICE

My philosophy as a professional caregiver, practitioner, and guide, is simple: healing and justice work are one and the same. At least, that's how it should be. I try my hardest to embody this approach, and I'm always growing in this aim. I am proud of the healing work I do and I consider it one of the innumerable forms of social activism that are necessary in our world.

If my care work is not provided with a foundation of anti-racist, anti-ableist, anti-audist, aware, accessible, justice-centric practices, then I don't think it would be very caring at all. I aim for practices in my work that pay attention not only to the individual struggles of my clients, but also the structural systems in which oppression occurs--the personal is the political, after all--and it doesn't get much more personal than our bodies and our deaths. For me, this means actively increasing my capacity to be in solidarity with my clients and colleagues. I use mindfulness, body-awareness, and therapy as tools to open myself up; to mitigate my own fears and defenses and conditioning and to take in truths and others' experiences. In accompaniment with deepening my spiritual capacity, I'm committed to doing the fierce intellectual and emotional work of self-education, using research, workshops, reading, community & activist events, and listening to friends, clients, and teachers of different backgrounds and perspectives. By simultaneously employing self-awareness of my own identities and reactivity and learned historical and political knowledge, I hope to be able to hold the safest space I can for clients.

Doing justice-centric doula, guide, and massage therapist work also means being overtly political about the work I do. My activism is usually "micro" level, because of the small, one-on-one nature of my work, but I also fight for the structural changes we need to make this work possible and accessible. There specific legal and social forces within the healthcare, bodywork, funeral, and deathcare worlds that both actively harm and/or neglect certain communities.

I'm particularly interested in fostering a business model in which my services can be as accessible as possible for folks who are interested--financially, physically, culturally, and otherwise.

There are practitioners in both deathcare (caregiving, and home funerals) and bodywork who have been paving the path for justice-minded practitioners for decades and even centuries. To these leaders, those I've met and those I haven't--thank you. We will continue it.

Furthermore, with gratitude and humility, I thank my clients, each and every one--because my understanding of that vast intersection of social justice and healing work has grown and changed and blossomed in my listening to each individual. I can't wait to continue learning more.

I'm always interested in joining in conversation with folks who are interested in justice-healing work. Maybe we can learn from each other. Please contact me if you'd like to explore this together!