Death Dhamma Podcast podcast

Embracing Death as a Gift: Overcoming Aversion and Supporting the Dying with Oliva Bareham

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In this episode, Margaret interviews Olivia Bareham, founder of Sacred Crossings in Southern California, who helps individuals through the dying journey. Olivia has been supporting people through the dying journey for the last 20 years and for the last 15, she has been teaching conscious dying and death doula and death midwifery work. Olivia created Sacred Crossings Funeral Home (, which offers alternative funeral services such as home funerals, green burials, and full-body deep-sea burials, with the aim of helping people to care for their loved ones after death so that their own experience of death is more gentle and easier to accept.

Olivia shares her personal experience of caring for her mother after she took her last breath and how it transformed her profoundly. She believes that when we hold death in our arms, it informs our brain in a way that no other deed can do. Olivia feels that we should all have the opportunity to be up close to death so that we can be transformed like that. However, there is resistance to being with the dead, which is just a learned behavior and belief. Olivia breaks that facade by showing images and inviting people to have their own personal experience of something that is completely contrary to what they've up until now believed and thought about and imagined.

Olivia teaches a course called "Enter the Grave," which is about literally embracing the grave as a potent place of transformation. It's not unlike the womb; the tomb, the grave is a fertile ground for growth, creativity, and change. In the course, Olivia helps individuals examine all that they are afraid of, all that they are clinging to, anything that is preventing them from fully allowing themselves to be in the grave of their life as they're living it. Olivia believes that even if somebody doesn't have an intention of being with the dying, it's still a valuable training and philosophy to consider.

Finally, Olivia discusses the most common challenges, issues, and things that people cling to on their way to getting this comfort level. She believes that clinging is everywhere, and we just don't notice it. We can cling to ideas and beliefs, an identity, opinions, and sensual pleasures. When we notice that we're attached to them, they have control over us, and we're not really free to just be in a place of constant surrender and acceptance and receiving. Olivia believes that "Enter the Grave" is an opportunity to look with a microscope at our beliefs, opinions, and ideas, and to relax our grip on them, be open to other beliefs, and be in a constant state of flow and change.

Contact Olive at [email protected].

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