May 22, 2022 • 28M

Death, Abortion & Communal Care

Sabia talks with Lashanna from A Sacred Passing: A Death Midwifery, and Community Education Non-Profit based in Seattle

 
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Sabia Wade, The Black Doula
A collection of interviews on Designing and Creating the Future of Birth.
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In this episode, Sabia talks with Lashanna, LMT/Death Doula from A Sacred Passing: A Death Midwifery, and Community Education Non-Profit based in Seattle. They talk about holding space for humans as they navigate systems and access surrounding death and abortion, and taking care of yourself while doing this communal work.

ASP offers so many amazing programs, including:

  • South Seattle No One Dies Alone (NODA) program

  • Listening Line

  • A Place to Die

  • Introductory and continuing education courses

Check them out: https://asacredpassing.org/

On IG -

Lashanna: @thegoodwitchofcascadia

Org: @A_Sacred_Passing

A Sacred Passing's mission is to guide and assist people towards a more conscious dying experience while honoring individual autonomy. In the community, we work to actively dismantle systems of oppression as they present in death and dying through education, care, and advocacy.

Transcription

*we apologize for the quality of this transcription, which was provided by Otter.ai

Sabia 00:03

Hello, hello, hello, we have been talking for the last like 25 minutes or so we are warmed up for this conversation. But I'm super happy to have you here I am ecstatic about all the things that you have shared with me prior to this recording and the ways that your organization is moving. But just to start us off, could you introduce yourself?

Lashanna 00:32
My name is Luciana Williams, I am a massage therapist and a mother and a community human

out here in Seattle. I get to do is do a lot around the places that I that I live and work. Yeah.

Sabia 00:56
You're like, so humble. so humble. You're like, I'm just, you know, doing this magic over here, you know, little community work, parenting at the same time.

01:10

But I mean, but that's it, there's so many like we are, that's what we're doing.

Sabia 01:16

Yes, yes. And it's like, I don't think I told you this before. But like, when I come to Seattle, I want to, I want to experience somebody work with you, because I feel so like, it's gonna be magical. And like, I'm super, like, body work dependent for so many reasons, like health issues, and, but also for my mental health. And it's just like, kind of how I process things. So just, you know, make space for me when I get there.

01:47

So, yeah.

Sabia 01:49

So I met you, I became aware of you through a sacred practicing, and the wonderful work that you're doing over there. So I was hoping that you can give us a little understanding of a sacred passing and the offerings that you all do there. Yeah.

02:09

A sacred passing is this like living living ball of work out here in Seattle, mainly, but it stretches and reaches beyond Seattle. But we are a death midwifery and Community Education nonprofit. Which means that we are small, tiny, unfunded and really doing some, I think, amazing things we we get to try to create access for for people around, like what is possible with their death and their dying, giving folks education around, like what's legal, and what's what people will tell you is illegal and is not really making sure that the things that people are like, Oh, no, that's just the way it is. It's no, it's, it's not actually. And that thing is like $20,000. And this thing over here is 300. And gorgeous.

Sabia 03:18 That part, right

03:22

layer layers of education we get to do in education, I mean, like sharing, the spaces that we create are very, we try to make sure that they are like generative and understanding of like, we are all bringing some some education to hear and through our experience. And through the things that we have learned. Like understanding from each other our understanding of how to care for each other and depth gross. We we offer a program called a place to die in Washington State. People don't always

Sabia 03:58
amazing, amazing. Yes. Amazing.

04:05

It really is. It's all volunteer run program, where people who want to use medical aid and dying or voluntary stopping eating and drinking can request a room at one of these spaces, and then go there and a community care team will care for them into their death. There are six spaces, you can go there and a community care team will care for them into their death. There are six spaces right now and Washington that we have. Our goal is 20 and all around hospitals to discharge people to us and are like, here, they can't take this prescription here at our medical center. And so we're gonna we're gonna pay to send this person here, you know, 60 miles away And so that they can die. And when they get here, like, they're really they're thankful to be here. They're there. Their crew is often with them Yeah, I could talk about that for for days. It's it's possible everywhere. So if someone has extra room in your house, like holler.

Sabia 05:21 Yes, yeah.

05:23

Yes. Our abortion doula curriculum that we're building we're creating a curriculum for folks to, to access online, to learn about abortion, learn the history, learn the process, hear from people hear stories, stories from all kinds of all kinds of experiences. Story storytelling period, and the learning through storytelling is is like a main forgotten education tool in like, the the cogs of education. Like, I think in community we all understand, like we continuously learn through story, but the structures that have put education in front of us have, like shaken the story right out. And so putting it back in, for people to understand and hear not from me explaining this as a process, but also like, this is what I went through. And this is what I did, like someone sharing it. So the curriculum is rich with stories, because of different parts, like shout your abortion partnerships, and some groups who have who have done real work and story gathering over time, have shared some of those with us.

Sabia 06:49

Yes, I'm so excited for like, the work that y'all do the work that you continue to do. And I know it takes a lot of energy, and a lot of effort. And also, I think, like, just in that, like brief explanation of what you all do, very brief, right? It's like holding the complexities of grief. One, but also just through the experience of death and abortion, right, which is, it's just, it's just important work. And, yeah, I mean, go into that forever, as well. So thank you for that. I mean, there's many things I would love to talk to you about. And I think I'm gonna bring you back a couple times. I think there's like you just are, you are most high talented and multilingual and so many of the reproductive health experiences and just a human experience, and in general. But right now, we are as you know, currently going through the expected posts row. And like, It's so wild, because yesterday, was it? Is it Oklahoma? Oh, yeah. Oh, my goodness. Like, what's from conception? What are we doing? What are we doing? Right? Like, and it was so yesterday, I was like, such in a good mood. I had went to go see my blue at work. And I was like, Dude did it through, you know, whatever feeling Oh, cute, whatever. And then I seen that and I was like, back to fucking reality. Yeah.

08:42

Yeah. I, I read that and was like really? Like, yes, Clarence Thomas said that the protests were temper tantrums. Right. He said, Oh, that's just a bunch of temper tantrums. And I was like,

What the fuck is that? Yes, I m sorry. I m sorry. Like, are we really just like, trying to see what happened? Like how far how control you're gonna get like,

Sabia 09:18

it's, it's, I know, it's, and it's like, you know what? And even like that, that word, right? So like, we we know that when we're talking about this conversation around abortion, but even death, right like that there is this element of systemic control. That is really kind of at the center of each of those conversations, right, like the control to tell someone what they can can do with their body. Right, whether they're in that reproductive experience, or whether they're deciding on what they have, they want to move forward with their life or not move forward with their
life. And that's just like, I guess that's like the theme the through line. Have those worlds that you inhabit specifically? So I would love to just hear about like, just your thoughts on that, like, what is this? What is this argument about this post roe thing? Because, you know, we know that like, okay, abortion access to data, but like, what is it really about you? And your mind? How are you putting these pieces together?

10:26

Like if I very closely, what it's really about is making sure that people still have access to reproductive care and choice. Like, on a on a on an absolute direct level, what can I do? These are the things on a bigger level, it's like, probably an hour or two and maybe a whiskey and a tea and some water. But like, right now, what it means to me is I there's work to do, there's always work to do. And there's a specific type right now, it, it, it involves conversation, and connection and it in it. What what has to happen is like, we have to make a web of care that that stretches states that is trusted, that that people know, they can reach out to folks. It means it means that that, that I have to listen, it means that as much as I don't want to know what's happening on MSNBC, I'm going to listen, because that's where I hear those little tiny hints of what might be happening. And that helps me understand. Okay, so I don't know anybody in Oklahoma. How do I how do I? How do I know? How do I get to understand who is who is in there? And how do we make sure people know that like, our places to die are also places you can post up and recover from an abortion. Like you fly in your house. You don't have to pay for a hotel. And you don't have to cook any food like we got you. And it's not. And it's not just us, because it's there's so many people who would be like, Wow, yeah. And so it means it means we have to, we have to really intentionally connect to care for each other. Even Even though that's scary. And people I don't know how to care for someone who had an abortion. Well, let's talk about it. We'll come over you you make that room will come over? You know,

Sabia 12:44

yes. Yes. And like with that, I also think like there is this aspect of like when you said scary, right? Like, there is this scary piece of the work that we do requires holding space, right? That that's the work right? Like how do I hold space? How do I care? How do I send to this person their needs, but now with this post row reality, it's also this legal part of holding space is now illegal. Like literally, it's like, if you are helping someone if you are assisting someone if you are transporting them, if you are whatever, you can potentially now end up in a legal you know, whatever. So I guess like just your I guess maybe just your thoughts on that. As well as yeah, like I guess like there's some real fears with that.

13:50

Yeah. First, like, yeah, they're real and the law is is absolutely real and absolutely unfuckin fair. So there will be people who it doesn't affect at all who are able to maneuver and and know what papers to submit at the right time and the right place to like get out of things and other people who are like I didn't I don't even look at the address. They fucking sent that to like, who then are caught up so it it's just how it always is. That's that that's what the law is it is this unfair appearance of fairness.

Sabia 14:35
Yes, unfair appearance, appearance of fairness.

14:40

Yes. I also, like I sit in that space on a regular basis with people I care for who don't want to be alive period. And who don't don't have a terminal illness and who aren't who aren't strong. Going from some sort of physical ailment that the government or the powers that be deem, okay to end your life with. So, so sitting with people and talking about, okay, here's this plan so that when I die, everything isn't a shit show. What are those? What are those things that you want to put in order? What are other conversations that you want to have? Either what are what what are all of the things and so sitting with people and talking about that is illegal. Oh, and a space that I am, I will talk about sitting in, that is so important to sit in, or at least I have found that it is important for the people who I've my pelted with, like to have these, to say the names, and to quit some structure to a lot of shit that people just often think about by themselves.

Sabia 16:07

I'm just like, so understanding, like the parallels of the work, or the inter sexiness of just these two spaces around like, death and abortion, because it's so much of those conversations that people can't have, it's the access, it's the legal part of it, it's the, you know, if you are someone who is around that space, the space that we have to sit in, right around, carrying those conversations, and not being fearful and not judging, and not, you know, putting our own thoughts around it, while others while the people that we're working with are dealing with the systems that be telling them how wrong they are, how they should think this way, how they should do it that way. And also bring it in these parameters of you can have an abortion, if you have these kinds of things. You can also die voluntarily if you have these kinds of things, but like, Who the fuck are we to make those decisions for someone? Who are we to make these parameters? What? What? Yeah,

17:16

it is not, not only just that, but to make these rules and then not get one back about you for the time in between. Like, I feel I could, I could, I could feel a little bit differently. If we were all in a living in a space that we liked doing what we wanted, like thriving as an individual with all of the needs that we want, like all of our needs and wants met. And like I feel like, I mean, okay, maybe I might be a little softer and be like, Well, okay, fine, I'd have a kid. Look at all this help I have around me, it's not just me, it's everybody. And I still get to be an artist. And I still, and I still get to learn because I have a community of people helping me and I'm not working to pay food for food and for like, just everything is so different. I'm still wanting choice. Like, I don't want to force us, but it's like,

Sabia 18:26

I don't know. But it also feels like, you know, like I was talking about like lactation and the for, for black folks specifically. And people, you know, like all this stigma around that process. And then also, people having these ideas of like, well, if black people wanted to, you know, just weed more than they would just do it. But when you talk about the factors around that choice, right, like your job, your time your support systems, you're this. And then kind of it was this person quoted, like, is it really a choice, right, like people are not deciding not to just feed? Is it really a choice? Or is it there's so many things happening around them that they don't really have a choice and they choose not to, or whatever the case is. And I think like it's kind of the same in the in the realms of life, when people are choosing to have children, or choosing to die or whatever it is. It's just like when we think about not only that person's maybe personal desire, but it's more so about what are the system supporting that? Right? And does that actually give them choice? Because it's one thing to say, I'm gonna have a child and I have this supportive system and then I'm choosing whether or not because of whatever, but when you only have that supportive system, you don't even have those resources. You don't have whatever, like, who are we to force you into something where you have no support, and no resources coming into it. Like, is that really a choice?

19:56

Yeah, no, no If you have when I, where I get, like, Hiccup is in the situations where like, I hear people talk about, you know, I don't have a way into my apartment anymore. Like that, you know, like, I It's hard for me to get like our elevator is broken this many times a month and I use my I'm in my wheelchair. And so that, like, just existing is too much because of things that aren't things that shouldn't be functional. And it's those situations that make me so, like, angry, and also still supporting a choice, but so angry because I'm like, Well, what what could this fucking look like, if you had everything that you wanted? And also, who are we to be like, No, live in this space where nothing is how you need and everything hurts. And everything hurts. Like,

Sabia 21:05

everything hurts. Everything hurts. You know? Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, well, so much like we're gonna have to do like a whole hour long session soon. Because, yeah, I yeah, this was a conversation that I needed. I told you, I woke up kind of like air. But this is definitely the conversation I needed. Something's gonna switch. And just ask you the question of what is the future.. of I don't even know if I want to say abortion access more. So what is the future of the communities that we're building around abortion access? And like, what do you see is in need in those in that future? And even deaf access, like what are we just a community care? What what's the future?

22:08

Think. I think people need to be brave about connection. They need to be brave, and they need to be listened, they need to listen. It takes work to make these webs of care. And so I think it's going to be hard work. And it's going to take bravery and courageous actions, and, and people to really do work. The time and the era that we get to live in right now. Like is, is interesting. And it's and I for a while I was like well, I kind of just want to like, really pick some flowers in the sun and kick it. And also, I'm just like, Why do I get that? Why is that the era that I think I get to live in like, no, that I think, for me, that like the era that I'm living in his work. And I think I think it's going to be absolutely fantastic. A little bit from now, the generation, but this is like we work. And it's yeah, it's just that's our era. That's the truth. That's our friend. Oh, you can't see. I don't know how to make it stop.

Sabia 23:49

Listen, technology's not a strong point where like, I'm gonna call you all those things like we were good at, but we don't technology not so great. I definitely agree with you. And just like that, that braveness Yeah, I'm in a connection that we we build and that strength and is necessary to do the work. And I think it's like so hard right now. Because like, I mean, at least even with me, like, finding that balance, like not doing too much work and understanding that like, I can't save the world that has to be communal, and the work that we do. Yeah, and also has to be sustainable. But we're definitely in an era of work. Like there's just how can we not? You know what I mean? Like, and when people aren't, I'm like, What world do you live with? And like our version of work can be different, right? Like, it doesn't have to be the same thing across the board. But yeah, I'm like, what, what's happening? Um, but the last question because I want to respect your time is in all of this work, and all of the political bullshit and the communities that we're building and continue to build and we're We're gonna continue to do powered using caribou yourself

25:12

not as well as I couldn't, I couldn't be to be that just really honest. And by, like, painting during really stressful meetings, being off camera, and I have also been enjoying calling IVF facilities and states that don't like choice and talking to them about like relationship building and how they truly depend on reproductive choice that Hadley has been like, so, like stress relieving, because it's not like I'm not like angry on the phone. I like I'm taking your smarty pants or like, but it feels like maybe they're gonna get off the phone and be like, have a little office conversation about Dane? Is this gonna affect us? And it will, right. I had a couple of people give me some like, wellness crisis numbers. They were like, Oh, we call our head office. And I called it. And it was like, oh, you know, if you're experiencing a mental emergency did it and I was like, Oh, y'all are slick. Like, you have been fielding the calls. But I think most importantly, like really, making sure that like I connect with my people. Like there's a there's a core group of humans who I, I talked to like, if not daily, every other day. And oh, man, thinking about them. And when I go a day or two without talking, I feel a little untethered. And it can be, hey, I love you. I'm thinking about you. And, you know, more. But it's, yeah,

Sabia 27:13

I have my people too. I'm like, we're gonna sit on the phone and say nothing this whole time. But just being on the phone or being in that connection, just keeps me grounded. And I just feel the love and could do the work. You know, like when I finish this call, but I am so appreciative of your time. so appreciative of your work. So appreciative of all the things to come with you and the secret passing. I am more than honored to be in conversation with you our relationship with you. And I hope that we continue to build

27:52

likewise, this is like it's been a wonderful flow into this day. Yeah, I told you how I came into this call and now I'm like, Oh, wow. Thank you.

Sabia 28:06 Thank you.