The Realities of Advanced Medical Interventions, by Maureen “Koala” Connelly RN and Cathy McConechy BSN RN.

Sometimes things don’t really look like they do on TV. In today’s age of ever advancing medical technology it is very hard to stay “up to date” on the latest strategies to keep us alive and well. This presentation will talk frankly about the actual outcomes, protocols for care, and how advanced interventions are often tied together. Both Cathy and Koala work at Peace Health in Intensive Care. The ICU consists of adult medical and surgical patients, for example cardiac surgery, strokes, traumas, severe infection and lung disease. These patients typically require full and partial life sustaining measures. They will present in layperson’s terms the realities of these heroic medical interventions on the average person. And the cost these interventions may incur. Free.  Friday October 2, 9:00am-12:00 at the Fairhaven Library Fireside Room.

Cathy McConechy- BSN Certified Critical Care RN, 32 years of Nursing, last 24 years in critical care, nursing instructor and ICU educator.

Maureen “Koala” Connelly – RN, Certified Critical Care RN, 26 years Nursing in critical care. Also a current volunteer with WAHA, trained in advanced care planning, helping clients to complete their advanced directives.


Nurturing Silence, with Miriam Fein

Silence is a realm distinct and whole unto itself. Becoming comfortable and soothed in silence can help us to let go of the concerns of daily life or the concerns of a life time. Feeling nurtured in silence can help prepare us to let go into our own dying. This is the focus of our workshop- a letting go into and appreciation of silence for self care and helping others to prepare for and enter their own dying transition process. Free, Friday October 2, 1:00pm-3:00pm at the Fairhaven Library Fireside Room.
Miriam Iya Fein is a Hazzan or Cantor (Jewish Liturgical Chanter and Singer/Prayer Leader/Educator) receiving ordination from Jewish Theological Seminary in 1979. Awakening to the deep healing nature of silence, she developed Resonant Silence Technique for her work with those with dementia, witnessing remarkable positive change in her clients. She has also worked extensively with those on hospice in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and memory care centers allowing subtle sound and intentional silence to help integrate and uplift. Miriam is a composer and poet with two recordings and her original music is featured in the book, Yoga Shalom. Her therapeutic work with silence and dementia has also been published. She lives in Bellingham WA serving as Hazzan and teacher of Jewish meditative practice and Hebrew with the Shir HaShalom Jewish Community. She can be reached at 206-939-2124 and at  

Folktales for Children about Death & Loss

In this hour story time our storytellers will read several children’s stories that show different approaches to death and dying through the lense of culture, age and mythical creatures. These stories will be appropriate for children ages 3-12. We will have a listing of the stories posted soon. Friday October 2 from 3:30-4:30 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.
We will be reading:
The Grandfather Tree, by Mike Donahue
Badgers Parting Gifts, by Susan Varley
Carmine the Crow, by Heidi Holder
Finding Grandpa Everywhere, by John Hodge
Tear Soup, by Pat Schweibert and Chuck DeKlyen
The Dancing Skeleton, by Cynthia C. DeFelice
Goodbye Mousie, by Robie H. Harris 

Art of Death Film Festival: Vultures of Tibet

VULTURES OF TIBET explores the recent commercialization of a sacred Tibetan funeral tradition known as Sky Burial. In Sky Burial, Tibetans ritually feed the bodies of their dead to wild Griffon Vultures as an offering to benefit other living beings. With the modernization of Western China and the expansion of tourism in Tibet, burial sites are now highlighted on tourist maps and local officials charge visitors admission to view the private ritual. Against the will of affected families, visitors take photos and video, often posting them online. Filmed in August, 2011, when regional tensions became so unbearable that scores of Tibetans began setting themselves on fire; VULTURES OF TIBET reveals the current state of Sky Burial as an anecdote of the larger ideological issues in Tibet today. Exposing a world in which nature and culture, humans and animals, spirituality and politics are all interconnected, VULTURES OF TIBET engages audiences with the potential for oppression in the act of looking.  Friday October 2 at 6:00pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free. 


Honeydrippers Tales: The Final Journey, with Haper Stone 

Storytelling is the most ancient form of entertainment and death the first subject of story. Where does death come from, why does he take us, and where does he go when he leaves? Hear tales of the heroes who met death, those who escaped, those who transformed through his embrace and those who bargained for a better deal. With a glass of mead in hand, let your mind drift down the river Styx while The Bellingham Storytellers Guild ferries you to the other shore of life. Linger a while, but listen carefully, lest you forget your way back…
Hosted by Harper Stone and featuring some of Bellingham’s finest storytellers and musicians  at the Honeymoon Meadery on Friday October 2 from 8:30pm-11:00pm. Admission is free, but you are encouraged to enjoy a hot mead or tea while you join us. All ages. located at 1053 N. State Street Alley in Bellingham, Washington. Our door is accessed through the alley off of Maple Street. We’re next to the back entrance of the Pepper Sisters restaurant. Facebook: Honeydrippers Tales: The Final Journey (Stories about Death)

Writing about Death: Stories, Poetry, and Personal Narrative, with Matthew Brouwer

We know that death is essential to bring about new life, but this doesn’t make it any less scary or painful when it comes to visit us. In this workshop you’ll have the chance to write about death as it relates to your own life. Possibly, it’s the loss of a family member or friend. Maybe it’s a metaphorical death of something that is precious to you. This workshop will create a safe, supportive space where you can write and create art out of that tender process of loss, mourning, and transformation. Through poetry, journaling, and story writing we’ll dig through the ashes of our experiences with the hopes of finding new fertile shoots of life. Welcome to writers of all level of experiences, both newbies and old hats.  $35. Open to sliding scale if cost is prohibitive.  To register contact Matthew at  Saturday, October 3rd 9am-noon.  Facebook: Writing About Death Workshop: Stories, Poetry and Personal Narrative

Matthew Brouwer is a performance poet and teaching artist residing in Bellingham, WA. He has performed throughout the US and led writing groups in a number of different settings including the public schools, Whatcom County’s juvenile detention facility, and for people who are homeless and suffering chronic illness. He draws on the wisdom of a number of spiritual traditions to deepen his writing and teaching. Matthew’s recently released collection of poems, Stories We Must Tell, details his journey of descent and recovery after a backpacking injury stripped him of the ability to walk in 2010. More on Matthew at


Connecting with our Beloved Dead: Healing and Building Relationship, with Rev. Heidi Ruth

This workshop is for people who long for a connection with loved ones who have died, and are open to the idea that this connection is possible. We explore the many ways that the dead show up in our lives and try to get our attention. We all have the wiring to stay in tune and in touch with our loved ones on the Other Side. It is simply a matter of waking up to the natural heart-connection that is there for eternity. Love doesn’t die. Relationships continue, heal, and evolve. Saturday October 3 from 1:00-4:00 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

  • Setting Sacred Space / Opening and Setting Intention
  • Ancestor Work
  • The Many Ways our Dead Show Up
  • How Do We Know?
  • Guides, Guardians and the Dead

About Heidi Ruth; I am deeply connected to my beloved dead. My ancestors, including my parents (death dates 1988 and 2001), are a grounding and guiding force in my life. My dear friend Kani Vierling (dead by suicide, 2005) continues to be one of my greatest teachers to date.

My training is not as a medium but as an Anamcara / ‘soul friend’, death midwife, and death educator. My background is diverse – from shamanic studies to an interfaith seminary education; from living and teaching in diverse cultures as a professor and researcher, to apprenticing in the death, loss, and aging services.

Walking the Labyrinth of Life, with Chuck Nafziger

A presentation about Labyrinth as a tool for personal introspection followed with a candlelight dusk walk of the Labyrinth in Fairhaven Park on Saturday October 3 talk from 4:00-5:30 and walk from 6:00pm-8:00pm. Free. 

Chuck had to use art to help resolve the conflict of being a Luddite and an engineer at the same time.  He works with the beauty of form that comes from function.  His art is mainly 3-D.  He usually works with fire, steel, bronze concrete or glass.  The eclectic mix includes a recent passion for bug photography. He has a BSE from Princeton University and honed conceptual skills as an engineer in testing and machinery design.  His fabrication skills come from working with the Boilermakers Local 104 as a shipfitter and shop mechanic. Chuck got his lifetime artistic license from the  Fremont Arts Council in Seattle.  Among other things, he has made gates, handrails,  a sundial, giant fire sculptures, mobiles, and bells.  He has made props and worked back stage for Fremont theatrical groups.  He has made floats for the Fremont Solstice Parade and installations for the Winter Solstice Feast.  He designed the Fairhaven Labyrinth in Bellingham.

Art of Death Film Festival:  A Family Undertaking

Most funerals today are part of a multimillion-dollar industry run by professionals. This increased reliance on mortuaries has alienated Americans from life’s only inevitability — death. A Family Undertaking explores the growing home funeral movement by following several families in their most intimate moments as they reclaim the end of life, forgoing a typical mortuary funeral to care for their loved ones at home. Monday October 5 6:00pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Northwest Room. Free.


Death: The Final Irony, a play  written by Andy Friedlander, directed by Don Drummond

A humorous and poignant collection of short scenes and monologues explores death, dying, and the afterlife.

Featuring (among others): Sam Spade; three friends (a mummy, a vampire, and a zombie); an intelligent but suicidal teenager; a man beginning his bucket list years to early; and a saleswoman selling afterlife experiences.Show times: Thu–Sat September 24–26 & October 1–3 at the idiom Theater 1418 Cornwall Ave, Bellingham. Doors at 7:00pm, show at 7:30pm $10 advance, $12 at door. for more info.

Here After: An Expressive Arts Journey into the Mystery of Beyond, with Scotty Lewis

This is an experiential workshop, where each participant will explore their own relationship to the themes of Dying and Death, Loss and Grief using the tools of Movement-Based Expressive Arts.  Using the resources of awareness, creativity and embodied expression we will investigate for ourselves this mysterious process of transformation using Movement, Drawing, Writing and Performance Enactment. 

In this Expressive Arts Journey, we will explore our inner worlds together providing us with a sense of connection and validation as we unravel our complex emotions and use the creative process to support the expression of what is true for us now in a life affirming way. Sunday October 4 from 10-5 at the Fairhaven Library in the 3rd floor Auditorium. By donation. Facebook: Here After

Scotty is a graduate of the Tamalpa Institute, where he studied an expressive arts therapy process call the Tamalpa Life/Art Process with Anna and Daria Halprin.  During his, and in his later graduated studies, he experienced the death of both his adopted parents one after the other.  So the Tamalpa Life/Art Process became and intregal part of his grieving and healing process.  It allowed him to use creativity to revisit the death of his older brother when he was 28.  This provided the opportunity to attend to this buried loss using movement-based expressive arts.

Scotty Lewis holds a Master of Arts Degree in Movement-Based Expressive Arts from Lesley University, where he studied the psychology of the expressing body with a blend of somatic, movement, and meditation practices including Miksang Photography, Continuum, and the 5Rhythms® movement meditation practice. He has a private practice as an expressive artist, therapist, and life/art coach and continues to work as a freelance corporate photographer nationally. He is based in Bellingham, Washington.

Moving the Bones, Lively Songs about Death, a concert with Marie Eaton and Friends

Musical concert featuring local musical artists: Flip Breskin, Marie Eaton, Geof Morgan, Tracy Spring, Laura Smith, Janet Peterson, Richard Scholtz. Just to show, not all songs about death are depressing. Sunday October 4 from 3:00-5:00 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. by Donation. Facebook: Moving the Bones: Lively Songs About Death

Speaking Of Dying, Introduction with Film Director Trudy James

Informative and yet intimate,  Speaking of Dying captures the importance of individuals and groups speaking openly about all aspects of the dying process. Viewing this film will inspire and encourage you to talk to your friends, family, health care agents and medical providers about your own end of life choices and wishes. It will motivate you to become more informed regarding life supports, hospice, palliative care, and other options—long before a crisis. The film also demonstrates the value of end of life planning in groups—one of the best ways to become comfortable speaking openly about this subject. Most of all, Speaking of Dying will help you believe that your life can have a peaceful and meaningful ending that will be a gift to yourself, and to your  loved ones. Sunday October 4 at 5:00pm -6:00pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

Trudy James is a longtime interfaith chaplain with degrees from the University of Kansas and Union Theological Seminary in NYC. She came to understand death and grief in new and deeper ways during her decade of work directing an AIDS CareTeam program in Arkansas in the late 1980s and 1990s, which served more than 500 CarePartners coping with AIDS. With love and support from their CareTeams, the CarePartners talked openly about their own deaths, lived longer and died more peacefully—essentially, palliative care before the specialty had been developed. For this work, Trudy was honored by President Clinton at the White House in 1993.

Trudy also created an AIDS CareTeam program in Seattle from 1997 to 2007, simultaneously serving as a chaplain at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. After “retiring” from this work, she created a consulting business called Heartwork. As a part of this work, Trudy has facilitated more than 60 community-based, end-of-life planning group sessions, which she named “A Gift for Yourself and Your Loved Ones.” People in these groups meet over four weeks to discuss end-of-life issues and learn about resources and choices regarding their own death. During one of the groups Trudy met film director Jennifer Jones, and the two women decided to collaborate on the new documentary, Speaking of Dying. The film is a culmination of Trudy’s entire life’s work on this vital subject, a reflection of her passionate desire to ensure that everyone knows a peaceful, meaningful ending is possible.  She is now training more facilitators for Heartwork end of life planning groups because doing the work in a group works best.

Art of Death Film Festival: Speaking of Dying

Informative and yet intimate,  Speaking of Dying captures the importance of individuals and groups speaking openly about all aspects of the dying process. Viewing this film will inspire and encourage you to talk to your friends, family, health care agents and medical providers about your own end of life choices and wishes. It will motivate you to become more informed regarding life supports, hospice, palliative care, and other options—long before a crisis. The film also demonstrates the value of end of life planning in groups—one of the best ways to become comfortable speaking openly about this subject. Most of all, Speaking of Dying will help you believe that your life can have a peaceful and meaningful ending that will be a gift to yourself, and to your  loved ones. Sunday October 4 at 6:00pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

Legal Concerns for Death and Dying, with Dave Neubeck

David Neubeck from Elder Law Offices will cover some of the essential legal concerns for advanced aging and dying. Monday October 5 from 10:00am-12:00 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

David M. Neubeck has practiced law in Whatcom County since 2000. David graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1999 and received his Bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993. Before coming to the Elder Law Office of Barry M. Meyers, David focused on human resource issues, governmental administration and criminal prosecution as in-house counsel for the Lummi Nation. In his leisure time, David is an avid cyclist and enjoys volunteering his time to local cycling events and advocacy groups. 

Death with Dignity Laws, with Sally McLaughlin 

Sally from Washington’s Compassion & Choices organization will make a short presentation about the laws and access to the Death with Dignity program here in Whatcom County. There will be room for question and answers at the end of the presentation.  Free. Monday October 5 from 1-3 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room.

Sally McLaughlin, MA, Community Education Director
Sally joined the staff in February 2015. After over forty years as an educator and administrator in Seattle Independent Schools, she turned her attention to a lifelong passion: end-of-life services. Sally is a trained volunteer for Providence Hospice, Evergreen Health Hospice and Harborview Hospital’s NODA program, as well as a Compassion & Choices of Washington Client Support Volunteer and speaker. In addition, she is a certified facilitator for Heartworks Advance Directives seminars. Sally holds a master’s degree in Comparative Literature, with additional degrees in French and German, and has taught at every educational level from preschool to university classes. In her role as Community Education Director, she works with Compassion & Choices of Washington’s trained speakers to educate the public and professionals such as physicians, nurses, social workers, hospice staff, and pharmacists about the Death With Dignity Act. She also provides educational seminars on advance planning and Compassion & Choices of Washington’s free advance directive.

What is a Death Midwife? with Ashley Benem

For as long and there has been man, we have been caring for our dying and our dead. This field of skills has shifted and changed ownership over time, but the skills really haven’t changed. This short presentation by local Death Midwife Ashley Benem will cover the profession, training options,  scope of practice and skills of for tending to the dying and the dead. Free. Monday October 5 from 3:30-5 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. 

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. She has been working with the sick and injured since 1991, first with emergency care, then as a LMP and Birth Doula, and now with the tender care of our dying.


Family Caregiver  Series, with Kate Massey

When someone else is sick or dying, you may find yourself suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar role, that of caregiver. Whether you are the only one or one of many people involved, you will likely need some help navigating the journey. You may need more information about what to expect of a disease process or how to help manage symptoms. You may need practical help with tasks directly related to caring or related to all the other things that need attention while you are doing the caring. You may need some ideas about how to ask for help from others. You will certainly need ways to look after yourself in order to keep giving care. Those concerns will be addressed in a series of brief presentations with a variety of practical tools available for you to see and try. Tuesday October 6th at the Fairhaven Library from 9:00am-noon. Free.

How Do We Do This Anyway? with Michelle Richards and Paula Faulkner.  The first hour will be a show and tell of sorts with a variety of adaptive devices and supportive tools available for examination and demonstration. Ways to manage the relevant paperwork will also be addressed.

Hey! What About Me?  with Kate Massey. The second hour will be devoted to the necessity of good self-care and ways to go about it.

What If Something Happens To Me, Too? with Ryan Blackwell. The third hour will be focused on the importance of sharing the care responsibilities with others (in general or in a crisis) and how to do so practically and gracefully. Some tools and techniques will be offered.

Kate Massey is a Family Caregiver Support Specialist at Northwest Regional Council, the local office of the Area Agency on Aging. She provides information, consultation and supports to unpaid family caregivers in Whatcom County.

Advance Care Planning / Advance Directives 

This community workshop is led by trained facilitator from WAHA: Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement. Class participants will learn: why Advanced Care Planning is important for all adults, how to choose someone to be your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (your Health Care Agent), how to talk to loved ones and doctors about preferences for end-of-life care, how to complete and file Advance Care Directives paperwork. Free.Tuesday October 6 from 1-3 at Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room.

How to Write a Death Plan, with Ashley Benem

Ashley will provide a rich conversation with tools for you to write a Death Plan for yourself or for your loved ones. A Death Plan fills in the gaps of information not covered by a living will, last will and testament, Advanced Care Directive or funeral plan. It is designed to tie those plans together in a cohesive way for families and loved ones to follow with ease. Free. Contact   Tuesday October 6 From 3:30-5:30 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room.

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. She has been working with the sick and injured since 1991, first with emergency care, then as a LMP and Birth Doula, and now with the tender care of our dying.

Art of Death Film Festival:  The Grief Walker

Griefwalker is a National Film Board of Canada feature documentary film, directed by Tim Wilson. It is a lyrical, poetic portrait of Stephen Jenkinson’s work with dying people. Filmed over a twelve year period, Griefwalker shows Jenkinson in teaching sessions with doctors and nurses, in counselling sessions with dying people and their families, and in meditative and often frank exchanges with the film’s director while paddling a birch bark canoe about the origins and consequences of his ideas for how we live and die. Tuesday Oct 6 at 6:00pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

The Power of Touch in Palliative Care, with Sally Ledgerwood

Touch with intentional presence creates and fosters connection.  It reminds the receiver they are still part of the human race, that they are still connected, important, loved – just the way they are.  Any touch, but specifically massage, is offered as a way to not only alleviate muscle tension and physical pain, but actually as a gift of pleasure for someone whose time it short.  Massage as we know it is no longer indicated or necessarily wanted.  This class will talk about looking beyond the dis-ease into the person inside and offer suggestions and techniques to effect the quality of life. Wednesday October 7 from 9:00am -12:00 at the fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. By donation and 3 CEU’s .

Sally Ledgerwood, LMP, Reiki Master
Sally has been a massage therapist for 16 years; a Reiki practitioner for 34 years and a teaching Reiki Master for 17 years.  She helped start the massage program at WhatcomCommunity College and taught in the program full time for four years and then taught the test review class only for another two years.  She sat on the Advisory Board for the program for two years after teaching.  In 2004 she became owner of Green Touch, a combination massage service and retail business.  Sally had 10 employees and offered massage services as well as all manner of massage supplies and equipment until the business closed in December 2008.  Sally became a Hospice Volunteer in 2009.  She has taught the competency classes for massage therapists and Reiki practitioners for Hospice for the last 3 years.  Sally has also maintained a private massage and Reiki practice.

Music of Compassion: Experience the Gift, with Women with Wings, Bellingham Threshold Singers, Duncan Saunders, Miriam Fein, Linda Allen 

Musicians who provide therapeutic and palliative care will offer opportunities for members of the community to experience the healing and comforting power of music. They will be on hand on a rotating schedule to provide music as guests relax in recumbent chairs. All are experienced musicians who have provided countless hours of soothing and healing music in our community to those who may be lonely, ill or dying. Wednesday October 7 from noon to 2:00pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

Presenters: Women with Wings and Bellingham Threshold Singers; Duncan Saunders, Celtic Harper Therapist; Linda Allen, Certified Clinical Musician; and Cantor Miriam Fein, Certified Music Practitioner

Book Bazaar, for exchange, purchase, check out or drop off

So many books, so little time! Whatcom County’s Death Café will be sponsoring a Book Bazaar with books on the subject of death, dying, grief and loss and related subjects. Many folks have books they would like to exchange for ones they haven’t read and this is a great way to recharge your library. For each book brought, you will receive a token which you can use to get a new-to-you book. You can also donate books on the subject and they will become part of a lending library with the Death Café if they are not taken. Used books will also be available for sale at a nominal fee.  We are also happy to have Village Books joining us this year to bring many new and best selling books to us for our Book Bazaar. Bellingham Library will have a table  of books on the subject  available for check out. To top the whole experience off, there will be a live Harpist to serenade your perusing. For questions contact:

Book Group Discussion and Sign up

We will be putting together book groups to read and discuss these incredible new books. Look for sign ups at the conference at the information table. Dates of the meet ups will be planned during the conference. We are happy to offer a 15% book sale discount at Village Books for the below books as part of your conference attendance. Get you coupon at the info table. 

Die Wise, by Stephen Jenkinson

Being Mortal, by Atul Guwanda

Smoke gets in your eye, by Caitlin Doughty

Greening Death, by Suzanne Kelly

Afternoon Tea with Whatcom County Death Cafe

At a Death Cafe people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. Our objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’. A Death Cafe is a group directed discussion of death with no agenda, objectives or themes. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counselling session. For this Special Session of the Death Cafe, we will be on Wednesday October 7 from 3:00-5:00 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free. 

Sandy Stork facilitated Whatcom County’s first Death Cafe in August 2013, at the Coop Connections Building on Forest Street. Sandy had heard about Death Cafes and wanted to host one in Bellingham, the county seat of Whatcom County. More than 40 people showed up! Virginia Herrick joined her as co-facilitator at that time, along with a few others, who are no longer in the Leadership Committee. Now the committee includes Sandy, Virginia, Julie Galstad and Tom McCarthy. They meet monthly at Moles on Yew Street ordinarily.

Life Force, Sexuality & Rebirth: Cycles of a Lifetime, with Vanessa Osage

 Join Vanessa Osage, Sexuality Educator & Director of Rooted Emerging, for an exploration of life force, true self, release, trust and the spiritual nature of sexuality, all on the stunning grounds of Woodstock Farm. Participants will spend time journaling on concepts of sexuality throughout their life and enact a private  honoring of one’s highest self. Please dress for fall weather. Appropriate for adults of any age. All group sharing is optional.  Maximum Participants: 12, $20 class fee Wednesday October 7 from 4:00pm-7:00pm at Woodstock Farms, Bellingham. Please contact Vanessa to preregister for the class. Rooted Emerging Fees will be paid directly to her.

Vanessa Osage is trained as a Sexuality Educator through Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, Boston, and teaches Soulful Sexuality Education to kids in grades 6-8. She also has worked as a Birth Doula, supporting women and families in the rite of passage of birthing. She currently works part-time in eldercare. Her life’s passion, Rooted Emerging, is a nonprofit celebrating youth rites of passage with Coming of Age programs and mentoring for youth ages 11-15 and their families.

Art of Death Film Festival: Life before Death, a series of short documentaries

This beautifully filmed journey takes us to 11 countries as we follow the remarkable health care professionals battling the sweeping epidemic of pain that threatens to condemn one in every ten of us to an agonizing and shameful death. Through the eyes of patients and their families we discover the inherent humanity that empowers the best of us to care for those beyond cure. This is an intimate hopeful and life-affirming collection of stories about living well and dying better, advocating for making the most of every moment in our life before death. The focus is primarily on pain contrl and the use of Palliative care. Wednesday Oct 7 at 6:00pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

*CANCELLED* Memorial Carving for Men, with Tim Powell

Spend a few hours remembering a loved one while carving a simple wooden name plate or plaque. No experience required.  Each participant will receive materials and a carving tools to take home with them.  This is a time to honor the unique grieving needs of men, with an informal facilitated discussion and plenty of time to simply listen to music, work peacefully on your carving project, and share with others as you feel comfortable. This workshop is limited to 12 participants and you must be 18 or older. Wednesday October 7 from 6:30pm-9:30pm at Location: Whatcom Cremation & Funeral, 4202 Guide Meridian #106, Bellingham, WA  98226.*THIS CLASS HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO A DEATH IN THE FAMILY.*

About the Facilitator: Tim Powell is a funeral director at Whatcom Cremation & Funeral and will lead this workshop at their location in Bellingham.  Tim was born in raised in Alaska, and is an amateur woodworker, photographer, and poet.  He has a heart for honoring the unique way that everyone grieves, and creating a safe “place” for that process to unfold in an unhurried fashion.  He also has experienced his own “healing through art-making” and will share a bit about that idea as part of the workshop.  Tim lives with his wife and two daughters in Ferndale, WA.

Navigating the Web of Support/accessing community resources, with Melody Coleman

Accessing services and programs that assist older adults and people with disabilities can be confusing. You may need guidance in finding the information and programs that meet your individual needs. Aging & Disability Resources can provide you with information about many services and options. This workshop will explore resources, share handouts, websites and have an Aging & Disability Resource staff available to answer questions. Thursday October 8th at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room form 9:00am to noon. Free.

Melody Coleman is an Aging & Disability Resources/Family Caregiver Support Supervisor at Northwest Regional Council, the local office of the Area Agency on Aging. She comes with experience working providing information, consultation and supports to community members, family caregivers, and professionals in Whatcom County.

Baskets, Caskets and Shrouds, Oh my! with Char Barrett and Ashley Benem

Did you know you have choices about what container your body goes in after you have died? Did you know the price of the container is the full spectrum of options? The old pine box has been the American standby, but we are going to show you examples of very old and very new options on what the last place you rest your head in can be. We will have hands on demonstrations of shrouds, basket caskets, fetal position shrouds, cardboard caskets and more. We will also talk about the trends in Green Burial containers and other environmentally conscious practices. We will give examples of family created and decorated shrouds and boxes and caskets. We’ll even show examples of the European Pod creation. Thursday October 8 from 1:00-2:30 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

Natural Burials in the Northwest, with Jodie Buller & Brian Flowers

Green Burial is a beautiful, meaningful, and ecological alternative to conventional burial. This presentation will explore the history of green burial and the different kinds of options available in this area. Brian Flowers, Green Burial Coordinator for Greenacres at Moles Farewell Tributes, and Jodie Buller, Cemetery Manager at White Eagle Memorial Preserve outside Goldendale, will take turns explaining their experience with natural burials. They will walk you through the basics, including planning steps, practical logistics, and burial service nuances, whether you are working with a funeral home or laying a loved one to rest independently. There will be plenty of time for questions, photo slide shows to help give you a sense of what it looks like, and stories that illustrate a wide range of unique burial experiences. Thursday October 8 from 3:00-5:00 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

Jodie Buller is the Cemetery Manager at White Eagle Memorial Preserve at Ekone Ranch, a Conservation Burial Ground outside Goldendale, WA. White Eagle works with funeral homes and with families directly, to offer meaningful burials in 20 acres of ponderosa and oak forest wilderness. Jodie walks people through the process of deciding their own end of life plans, and handling the logistics involved in burying loved ones. She is a celebrant and hosts burial receptions at the White Eagle cabin in the Ekone Ranch

Brian Flowers is a funeral director, the General Manager, and Green Burial Coordinator for Moles Farewell Tributes & Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale, WA where he designed and developed The Meadow Natural Burial Ground.  He is also the Past President of The Green Burial Council, a non-profit engaged in eco-certification of green burial funeral homes, products and cemeteries.  Green burial, it’s ecological benefits and the unique opportunities it presents for crafting relevant and meaningful end of life rituals has become a driving passion for Brian.

Art of Death Film Festival:  A Will for the Woods

One of the core motivations in making A Will for the Woods was to shed light on this profound environmental and social movement. At first, we were primarily fascinated with green burial as a strategy for land conservation and the reduction of environmental impacts, but as we continued working on the film, and particularly through witnessing Clark’s journey, we saw what a powerful spiritual experience green burial can be. For many, including Clark, green burial offers the unexpected gift of a deeper understanding of our connection to the natural world — of what it means to die, but also live, sustainably and in harmony with nature. Thursday October 8 at 6:00pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

Singing at Life’s Thresholds, with The Bellingham Threshold Singers

Come and learn about Bellingham Threshold Singers and the service we provide: our repertoire of songs, vocal techniques used at the bedside, what it takes to be a threshold singer, the training our singers receive, the effect of music on people who are unresponsive or dying, the value of particular songs for people with dementia, and more. Our singers will talk about how they got involved in threshold singing and describe their experience singing at the bedside. Participants will have the opportunity to learn a threshold song, to sing it for a volunteer in a reclining chair, and to be sung to. This workshop is open to all and is free. Refreshments will be provided. Thursday October 8th from 4-7 at the Fairhaven Library in the Northwest Room. Free. 

Bellingham Threshold Singers is a group of volunteer women who go by threes or fours to offer songs of comfort to those at life’s thresholds—individuals who are critically ill, struggling to live, or nearing the end of life. We employ a repertoire of songs written specifically for this purpose, which we sing softly, unaccompanied by musical instruments. We offer our free service to people of any faith or no faith in the hospital, in care facilities, or at home. We have been serving Whatcom County since 2007.

Acupuncture for Palliative Care, with Robyn Curtis

Spend time with local acupuncturist Robyn Curtis learning the ins and outs of acupuncture.  We will discuss history, uses, and explore the theories of how acupuncture works from both eastern and western perspectives.  There will be an opportunity to experience the needles yourself for those who wish.  Robyn will discuss the various modalities acupuncturists use such as cupping, moxibustion, and qigong with demonstrations of how they are used.  Tying it all together, Robyn is an acupuncturist for Whatcom Hospice and will discuss how this modality beautifully complements the journey of dying. Friday October 9 from 9:00am-11:00am at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room.  By donation and 2 CEU’s .

Robyn Curtis, LAc, LMP earned her masters in acupuncture from Bastyr University and massage therapy training from Bellevue Massage School.  After a bit of personal travel as well as working on cruise ships as an acupuncturist for two years, Robyn finally missed the family so much that she came back to settle in her hometown of Bellingham.  With much enthusiasm, she set up her sliding scale clinic and ran The Acu Lounge for about one year.  When offered her dream job with Whatcom Hospice in February 2013, Robyn closed her practice to become part of the comfort care team and hasn’t looked back since!

The Urban Death Project, with Katrina Spade

Katrina will be talking be talking about the Urban Death Project, an alternative to burial and cremation that uses the process of composting to turn our deceased into soil. Friday October 9 from 2:30 to 3:30 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free. Facebook: The Urban Death Project

Katrina Spade is the founder and director of the Urban Death Project, a new system for gently and sustainably disposing of the dead using the process of composting. Katrina has focused her design career on creating human-centered, ecological, architectural solutions.

Katrina earned a BA in Anthropology from Haverford College, and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Prior to architecture school, she studied sustainable design and building at Yestermorrow Design Build School, with a focus on regenerative communities and renewable energy. As a graduate student, she received the AIA Henry Adams Medal and the Western MA AIA Graduate Student Scholarship for her work. She has recently been awarded the Echoing Green Climate Fellowship.

Voices of Compassion: Music at the End of Life 

Bellingham is fortunate to have a host of singers and musicians who bring healing music to the bedside of those who are dying. In this panel, you will meet some of those who have stories to share about the work they each do. Friday October 9 from 4:00pm-5:30pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

Presenters: Moderator: Rev. Dr. Linda Allen, Certified Clinical Musician and founder of Women with Wings and Bellingham Threshold Singers. Panelists: Pam Hooper, Co-Director, Women with Wings; April Boyden, Bellingham Threshold Singers; Cantor Miriam Fein, Certified Music Practitioner; Duncan Saunders, Celtic Harper Therapist; Rev. Barbara Davenport, Music and Memory project.

Rev. Dr. Linda Allen: Certified Clinical Musician
Linda is a professional musician, an ordained minister, and an educator. She is also the founder of both the Bellingham Threshold Singers and Women with Wings, and is currently Co-Director of Women with Wings. She has organized three retreats on death and dying, facilitated trainings nationally, and has spent many hours at the bedside of those who are dying.

Duncan Saunders: Celtic Harper Therapist 
Duncan has a Master’s degree in Family and Individual counseling, along with working for 12 years on psychiatric units…(“where the harp has sometimes had very beneficial effects”. Duncan has been a familiar presence at St. Joseph’s hospital for many years.

April Boyden: Bellingham Threshold Singers Deaconess
April Boyden has worked professionally for more than 25 years with people who are ill and dying. Currently she serves with the Spiritual Care Department of Peace Health. She is one of two music directors for Bellingham Threshold Singers with whom she has served for more than 5 years. She participates with Threshold Choir International to assist new choirs getting started.

Pam Hooper: Women with Wings
Pam has been involved with the Threshold Choir movement since 2009, when she joined a choir and found “where her heart would take her voice”. Pam plays five string instruments, sharing songs of memory, healing and comfort in various venues throughout Whatcom County. Pam became Director of Women with Wings in 2013, upon the death of previous director Colleen O’Rell.

Miriam Iya Fein: Certified Music Practitioner
Miriam is a Hazzan (Jewish Liturgical Singer/Prayer Leader/Educator) receiving ordination from Jewish Theological Seminary in 1979. Awakening to the deep healing nature of silence, she developed Resonant Silence Technique for her work with those with dementia, witnessing remarkable positive change in her clients. Miriam is a certified therapeutic musician, graduating from the Music for Healing and Transition Program.

Rev. Barbara Davenport: Music and Memory 
Barbara was inspired by the documentary, “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory”. She is currently working with patients and volunteers at Shuksan Healthcare Center to bring the project to patients there, and to establish a choir. Barbara is a Unitarian Universalist minister, who has also been active in the Green Burial movement.

Crossing Culture:  Providing holistic hospice care, with Bev Fletcher and Isabel Tan

These two presenters will share the story of how a whole team provided end-of-life care to a 38 year old Muslim woman and her intergenerational family.

In this case presentation, Bev Fletcher and Isabel Tan will share their experience working with a thirty-eight year old Muslim woman who came onto their hospice service over a year ago.  The highlights of this case include difficult pain management in treating metastatic breast cancer, grief and loss support for this patients five children, ranging in ages from four to seventeen, and working with another culture to ensure a safe and comfortable death.  Ultimately, the hospice team formed a loving and caring bond with this extraordinary woman and her Somali family and worked together to witness a peaceful transition. Saturday October 10 from 10:00am-12:00 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

Bev Fletcher, RN, BSN, CHPN.   Bev has been a registered nurse for 35 years with a focus on oncology and hospice nursing.   She is certified in Hospice and Palliative care nursing, and has worked in the field of end of life for the last 20 years.    She is currently working as a home hospice nurse case manager for Group Health Cooperative in the division of Home Health and Hospice.   

Isabel Tan, Spiritual counselor for Group Health, Home Health and Hospice. Isabel Tan has been working for Group Health Hospice as a Spiritual Counselor  for twenty years.  She received her Master of Divinity and completed Chaplaincy training in Boston, Mass.    Her work has taken her to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa as well as to Romania to be with children orphaned and dying.  She has served as a Chaplain to Homeless women and children; is the co-founder of The Healing Center: A Grief support community in Seattle for young families, and works with children of all ages to offer grief services.  She lives in Seattle with her husband Paul and children Eli and Agnes.

Stress and Anxiety Management for End of Life, with John Mason

Stress can rob caregivers and patients of much needed energy and focus. Learning to manage stress can improve your quality of life. Learn to better manage your stress and anxiety. In so doing, you can get back in control of important aspects of your life, at a time when you may feel overwhelmed and life may feel out of control. Demonstrations of stress and anxiety techniques will be included in this interactive workshop. Please join us. Relaxation feels great! Saturday October 10th from 1:00pm-3:00pm at the fairhaven Library in the Northwest Room. Free.

John Mason, Ph.D. is the author of two books on stress management, including the best seller, “Guide to Stress Reduction.” He opened the Stress Education Center in 1978 and has worked with thousands of people through his private biofeedback practice and group trainings. John also applies his experience as a caregiver for 8.5 years for my wife before her passing to his work with caregivers. His workshops are fun and interactive.

The Main Event & Gala : The Web We Weave

he Web we Weave is a DANCE, MUSIC and spoken word performance
intricately weaving the symbols of our culture into the Fates dance with our own vulnerability.

So beautiful, so delicate, but so strong, so compelling,
so tied to the mystery of our own human frailty.

The Web We Weave, how do we get tangled in the sticky paths or threads of end of life issues, or how can we utilize the web of support to carry us with ease across the unknown path towards death.

The evening includes Key Note speaker; Swil Kanim and musical feature from singer songwriter, Tracy Spring. Followed by a wine reception with our
exhibitors from the various agencies and businesses supporting end of life choices. We are also happy to be including a private viewing of Whatcom
Museums instillation of: HELMI’S WORLD: SYMBOL, MYTH, FANTASY.

The Web We Weave, will be held at the lovely Whatcom Museum’s
Lightcatcher Building, 250 Flora Street, Bellingham, on Saturday October 10th at 6:00 pm. Tickets to this evening performance and presentation are $10 Adults, $8 students or seniors, children under 10 are free, available at the Food Co-op, and at the door. on Facebook: The Web We Weave

Key Note Speaker, Swil Kanim

Swil Kanim is a classically trained violinist who grew up in Washington State. For many years he has traveled up and down the West Coast, playing violin and telling stories at schools, community events and festivals. He plays his own compositions, which incorporate classical influences but are infused with his own life and musical influences. Swil Kanim has been a featured performer at the American Indian Film Awards in San Francisco since 2003. The recipient of many awards and honors, Swil Kanim performed at the West Coast American Indian Music Awards in 2008, where he was presented with both the classical and traditional instrument awards. That same year he was invited to perform for the Dalai Lama at Key Arena in Seattle for the Seeds of Compassion event.  He currently is President of a non profit organization call HONORWORKS whose mission is to create and ignite the potential for honor among all people. He was recently awarded the Gordon Tracie award by the Ethnic Heritage Council in Seattle for his contributions in the development and presentation of the traditional arts in the  Saturday October 10 from 6:00pm-9:30pm at the Lightcatcher Museum In Bellingham. Tickets are $10 Adult, $8 Seniors, Kids free. Facebook: The Web We Weave

Stepping into the Death lodge: Releasing the Past, Living in the Present, with Charlene Ray

The death lodge is a traditional method of saying farewell, clearing, and being current with relationships. The death lodge helps us to make peace and let go of the past and step more fully into our present lives.

We will spend the morning learning this tradition, and work with the Fall shield, as we gather for council, and spend time in nature reflecting and being present to who and what wants to come forward to join us in the death lodge.

In the afternoon, you will be invited to spend solo time creating the lodge and working with this transformational process. We will spend time in council, and with art, poetry and meditation to begin to integrate, and explore how we can use this important tool throughout our lives.

In the evening, we will have a ceremony to release the old, and embrace our lives in the now, and we will go forward in a new empowered way.

Sunday Oct. 11, 2015, 9 am to 7 pm  $75 (some sliding fee spots are available) Contact Charlene Ray at to register. Class will be held at Fairhaven Park in the Pavilion Building near the water park. Fairhaven Park is located just south of 107 Chuckanut Drive North.  The entrance to Fairhaven Park is marked by large brick pillars.for more information. 

Ayurvedic Options to Ease the Transition towards Death, with Katrina Svoboda Johnson, LMP, SOMA, BME, AHP/CAP 

The 5,000 year old modality of Ayurveda, which literally means “the science of life,” offers us a bounty of information regarding how to live a life that is balanced and where health and wellness (in body, mind, and spirit) are a normal state. Dying is an aspect of life, and an easeful death process is a hallmark of a life well lived. We will first discuss the basic principles of Ayurveda and will then learn some tools that will facilitate an easeful passage. Simple, easy methods for helping loved ones during their transition as well as caregiver self-care will be discussed. Saturday October 11 from 10:00am-12:00 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.

Katrina Svoboda Johnson, Licensed Massage Practitioner, Certified Soma Practitioner, BioSomatics Movement Educator, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner.  Katrina Svoboda Johnson is the Owner of the Ayurvedic Health Center & Wellness Shop LLC. She bought the business from its founder, Juliet Jivanti, in 2015. Previous to owning the Ayurvedic Health Center Katrina maintained a private practice for ten years in Structural Integration deep-tissue manual therapy, BioSomatics movement re-patterning, and yoga. Katrina studied Ayurveda for three years at the California College of Ayurveda in Nevada City, CA, including a nine-month supervised clinical internship. Katrina has deepened her studies of Ayurveda with Mary Thompson, Dr. Vasant Lad, Dr. Sarita Shrestha, and KP Khalsa. Further learning in the Vedic sciences of Jyotish (astrology), Palmistry, Vastu Shastra (the organization of space), herbology, and bodywork are on-going.

Katrina holistically interweaves timeless traditions with contemporary practices to support the client in making beneficial changes. All of the work that Katrina does is highly customized and is tailored specifically to the client. Education is a large component of this engaging and dynamic approach. So, too, is addressing the root cause of the discontent—whether in the physical structure, in the functional anatomy, or in the mental/emotional/spiritual body—rather than merely the symptoms. Katrina is deeply thankful to her students and clients and for their hard work.

Ritual: Burrowed tools for Loss, with Ashley Benem

Ritual or ceremony creates an active path for change, meaning and deep understanding. Ritual gives a physical action to our prayers or intentions that then allows those intentions to be brought in to the physical/material world. We will touch on the somatic, body-mind connection with this form of prayer and introduce the basic elements of ritual, old and new. We will explore working with our own story, intentions, prayers and beliefs and incorporating them into a personal self-directed ritual that can be done independently. The class will be very hands on and interactive.  Sunday October 11 from 1:00-4:00 at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.  

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. She has been working with the sick and injured since 1991, first with emergency care, then as a LMP and Birth Doula, and now with the tender care of our dying. She has been working with many forms of ritual for over 20 years and brings this healing strategy to her clients often using the natural world as a tool or backdrop for healing.

Art of Death Film Festival: Burke & Hare

A 2010 British black comedy, based loosely up the real life murderers Burke and Hare, about two 19th century grave robbers who find a lucrative business providing cadavers for an Edinburgh medical school. Directed by John Landis. Wickedly funny. Sunday October 11 at 6:00pm at the Fairhaven Library in the Fireside Room. Free.


An introduction to Dying Wise, with Stephen Jenkinson

Die Wise – A Manifesto for Sanity and Soulis Stephen Jenkinson’s new book about grief, and dying, and the great love of life. Published by North Atlantic Books. (March 2015). Stephen Jenkinson is also the subject of the feature length documentary film Griefwalker (National Film Board of Canada, 2008), a lyrical, poetic portrait of his work with dying people.

Die Wise teaches the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well. Not a seven step coping strategy, not an out-clause for trauma or sorrow, Die Wise is for everyone who, hell or high water, is not going to pull off eternity after all. Dying is not the end of wisdom and wisdom not exhausted by dying. Dying could be and must be the fullest expression and incarnation of what you’ve learned by living. It’s a moral obligation to die well. If you love somebody, if you care about the world that’s to come after you, if you want somebody to be spared the lunacy of what you’ve seen, you’ve got to die wise. This evening begins to imagine a way of doing so. 

Die Wise presentation will be Thursday October 22 from 7-9 at WWU Academic West Lecture Hall Room 204. Tickets: $25 early bird, $35 at the door. However, this event will likely sell-out.  Ticket’s available on-line at: on the Home page. There will be a book signing directly after the presentation. Facebook: Die Wise talk in Bellingham.

About Stephen Jenkinson, MTS, MSW, spiritual activist, teacher, author 
Stephen teaches internationally and is the creator and principal instructor of the Orphan Wisdom School, founded in 2010. With Master’s degrees from Harvard University (Theology) and the University of Toronto (Social Work), he is revolutionizing grief and dying in North America. Stephen is redefining what it means to live, and die well. Apprenticed to a master storyteller, he has worked extensively with dying people and their families, is former programme director in a major Canadian hospital, former assistant professor in a prominent Canadian medical school, consultant to palliative care and hospice organizations and educator and advocate in the helping professions. He is also a sculptor, traditional canoe builder whose house won a Governor General’s Award for architecture.

He is the author of Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul (2015), Homecoming: The Haiku Sessions – a live recorded teaching (2013), How it All Could Be: A work book for dying people and those who love them (2009), Angel and Executioner: Grief and the Love of Life – a live recorded teaching (2009), and Money and The Soul’s Desires: A Meditation (2002), and contributing author to Palliative Care – Core Skills and Clinical Competencies (2007).