Angela is a board certified Interfaith Chaplain and End of Life Doula. She received a Master of Divinity in 2008 from Naropa University. She started volunteering for Hospice in High School and since 2011 has worked as a Hospice chaplain throughout Western and Southern Maine. Before moving to Maine, she worked with Veteran populations in Seattle, who struggled with varieties of trauma, substance abuse and complex psychological issues as well as with Veterans diagnosed with terminal illness. In her 2 years at the VA she facilitated a weekly grief support group. She currently works for Hospice of Southern Maine as one of 5 chaplains.
Angela has counseled, walked with and learned from countless individuals and families in their journey of being with dying and continues to organize and lead memorial services and celebrations. Over the past several years she’s learned directly from trailblazers in the work of death midwifery and home funeral guidance, including Jerrigrace Lyons and Zenith Virago. As a practicing Buddhist since the mid 90s, she has also been part of a tradition where caring for one’s own dead at home, with the support of community, is common practice. She has been enrolled in mortuary school since the fall of 2017, possibly working toward licensure as a funeral director but open to all the permutations of how that learning will inform her endeavors.
Angela is steady and passionate in her commitment to foster greater and deeper awareness in individuals, families and communities regarding the power of taking death to heart in life and in guiding and encouraging people in caring for their own dead in ways that are most meaningful, resonant and true. In creating Good Ground Great Beyond she aspires to contribute to the expansion of meaningful disposition options to the communities of Maine as well as provide a physical space and reference point to deepen our relationship to and contemplation of death.
Some thoughts from Angela…
“We are at an interesting moment culturally. Death work and awareness and different disposition options have entered mainstream discourse with inspired force. There are increasing numbers of death midwives and people helping other people plan and clean for death. People organizing salons and gatherings to talk about death. People expanding the scope of funeral direction and people empowering families in caring for their own dead. This is great and necessary. It brings what some felt to be a taboo subject and inevitability into the light, out of the colder, darker corners of things we think we can or should avert.
We are ripe for deeper reckoning with our mortality. A reckoning that keeps death in relation to our living, like family, like nature. There is a well known story of a meditation teacher talking about his tea cup, how he knows it is already broken and because of this fact enjoys the tea most fully. The cup is conditioned, changing, destined to dust. It’s functionality is for a time “cup” and at another time mere pieces and particles destined further for different forms. So too are we destined to dust and further forming. Our pieces and particles are slated to morph in functionality. We walk in mystery as conscious humans, often more oriented toward building our many identities, loves and experiences. But our mystery is also a walk with our inevitable deconstruction and end and changing. To walk our beginnings and endings intentionally changes how we experience our life, how we drink our tea, how we think, how we love. We build and we come apart. All of it is good, as in basic and essential. .
No one is a single expert on any of this. Some help prompt awareness and conversation differently. Some stand in their skin so genuinely that others remember where and how they stand. Some serve in ways that shepherd communities into better and more authentic relations within the wholeness of living and dying. Some exude a quiet confidence and realization that supports others like the foundation of a solid home. We all need all of this. We all die. We all have our part in the ongoing conversation, in the support, discovery, learning, and maturing.
My interest in creating space for open air cremation is to make an offering to the communities in which I work and live. Everyone should have access to exactly the kind of dying and death that resonates rightly with how they have lived, that rings with true meaning. I aspire that Good Ground Great Beyond prompts people into ever deeper reckoning, deeper wonder and love through celebrating and honoring the feeling and facing of all endings and further formations.”