Sacred Passage Doula
Certified through The Conscious Dying Institute, Boulder CO
A strong believer in the power of personal development, Maryann is dedicated to her own continued growth while learning through all facets of her life.
Working with children with Autism and adults with disabilities taught Maryann how to be present and listen for unspoken needs. This led Maryann to a career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant which she has practiced in the Skilled Nursing rehab settings throughout the Portland Metro and Willamette Valley region since 2011. She is skilled in gently stepping into someone’s healing process to support problem solving, resource management, as well as physical and emotional change needed to empower her patients’ return to as safe and independent a life as possible.
The unexpected terminal diagnosis of her father in NY, resulting in his death at home 15 months later, offered Maryann the opportunity to utilize her therapeutic skills beyond the “curative” realm of the medical world. Frequent visits home to support her family included role modeling care and connection, respite care, advocating to treatment teams, and creating as much quality time as possible. Being bedside for her loved one during active dying, Maryann discovered her ability to be present during end of life transition.
Embarking on the healing journey of death education, Maryann became certified as an EOL Doula in 2016, studying at the Conscious Dying Institute in Boulder Colorado, alongside volunteering with Kindred Hospice and the End of Life Care Collaborative in which she was a core member. She is currently a member of the Portland Eldercare Care Council, providing resources and referrals to support our community’s aging population.
Besides providing compassionate care to her clients and educating families on healing ways to navigate an end of life journey, Maryann enjoys the many public education opportunities her role as a doula has provided. She finds connecting with medical providers newly entering the field, as well as other academic students, a real privilege. She hopes these engagements continue to shift our medical community’s (and our culture at large!) ability to talk about and approach deathcare with more ease.
Born and raised outside of New York City, Maryann is grateful for her early exposure to diversity of people, cultures and lifestyles. Now rooted in Oregon, she is also grateful for the abundant exposure to nature. She finds great pleasure in her continued world travels and the endless opportunities for learning while connecting to community, new people and places.
End-of-Life Doula Certified through Momdoulary's Death and Mourning Doula Training Program (TM)
In 2008, the sudden loss of a friend from a tragic accident set me on the path to becoming an end-of-life doula. I began studying death & dying as a way of coping with the shock of the loss. In the course of my studies, I learned of Death Doulas/Midwives and was fascinated by the idea.
I volunteered with hospice and knew I was on the right path. In 2015 I earned my End-of-Life Doula certification through the Momdoulary six month Death and Mourning Doula Training Program. Because I will never stop learning, I am currently enrolled in Deanna Cochran's CareDoula Training Program. Along with my three years with hospice, I also volunteered for one year with Compassion & Choices, and have volunteered with End of Life Choices Oregon for four years. I also have a Masters in Psychology from New College of California.
In the past 150 years or so, deathcare has become medicalized, having been a family and community event since pretty much forever. As a result, we have lost our knowledge of this natural and profound part of life. Because any talk of death is generally avoided until something happens, people often don’t know what their loved ones would want, or what their options are, or what the process can look like.
My passion as a doula is to give this lost knowledge back to people. I believe one of the keys to having more peace around serious illness and death is information and conversation. When folks have open, honest, informed, reality-based conversations with their loved ones early and often throughout their lives, much chaos can be avoided when a health challenge does arise. (It’s not too late to start!) Facing our fears and learning about them is how we dis-empower them. I love this quote from hospice nurse Barbara Karnes: “We can’t take away the sadness of death. However, talking about it actually alleviates unnecessary pain and stress - because knowledge reduces fear.”
My goal is to help families experience as much healing, love and yes, even humor, as possible in their last years, months, and days together. Another favorite quote by Ram Dass: “We’re all just walking each other home.” It is truly an honor to serve in this way.
On a personal note, a few of my favorite things are: my family & friends, birds, trees, the moon, music, weird art, books, quiet, Halloween, and laughter - always laughter.
JoJo is an energetic, joyful and loving addition to the Evening Star team. A true quarantine puppy, JoJo is often quietly present for zoom meetings alongside her mama, Maryann. Her best days are spent at the park with friends, swimming, biking with her papa, playing with sticks and toys, and of course plenty of lap time.