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Location: Shambhala Online

Before I Die: Death and Pre-Planning Basics for Buddhists

December 9 from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. EST

About the Mini-Retreat

If you’re searching for peace of mind, Death Doula, Meli-Tashi Happy and Chaplain Alley Smith will lead you on a mini-retreat to explore resources, pre-planning and end-of-life care together. As you know, death is a universal and spiritual process. Therefore, this mini-retreat will give you an opportunity to experience heartfelt, wise and practical advice from two experts in the field of death care.

Included in the Mini-Retreat

  • What is pre-planning for death?
  • A short meditation on impermanence
  • How to document one’s final wishes
  • Special and specific service requests: location, music, poetry, speakers
  • How to prepare an obituary
  • Heart-centered practices of a death doula
  • Where to find resources
  • Monuments, clergy and other considerations

Who will Benefit from this Retreat?

  • Individuals who are searching for peace of mind and have questions about end-of-life planning and preparation
  • Individuals who have questions about funeral arrangements to include direct cremation, burial, visiting hours, memorial services, funerals, celebrations of life, cemetery services, monuments, and more
  • Individuals who are looking for death care resources

What You will Gain

  • A deeper understanding of your pre-planning needs
  • Q&A experts in field of death and dying care

Recommended Reading Material and References: Not Required

How to Live when a Loved One Dies by Thich Nhat Hahn  

Death Nesting: The Heart-Centered Practices of a Death Doula by Anne-Marie Keppel, Forward by Karen Wyatt 

The Tibetan Book of the Dead translated with commentary by Francesca Fremantle and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

The Tibetan Book of the Dead for Beginners: A Guide to Living & Dying by Lama Lhanang Rinpoche & Mordy Levine

Making Friends with Death: A Buddhist Guide to Encountering Mortality by Judith L. Lief

How We Live is How We Die by Pema Chödrön

Living is Dying: How to Prepare for Death, Dying & Beyond by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative Care & End-of-Life Care edited by Koshin Paley Ellison and Matt Weingast, Forward by HH the Karmapa

Preparing to Die: Practical Advice and Spiritual Wisdom from the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition by Andrew Holeck

Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion & Fearlessness in the Presence of Death by Joan Halifax

Mind Beyond Death by Dzogchen Ponlop 

The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

Peaceful Mind – Compassionate Heart by Khen Rinpoche Lobzang Tsetan, edited & with a preface by Dana Sawyer

Shambhala Online Resources:

Death & Dying: Practice & Ceremony Protocols (Shambhala Online):  https://shambhala.org/members/member-resources/practice-education/practice-and-ceremony-protocols/

Disposition of Dharma Materials (Shambhala Online): https://shambhalanetwork.org/wp-content/blogs.dir/218/files/2022/11/TEXTS-20.05.19-Disposition-of-dharma-materials.pdf

Green Burials (Shambhala: Touching Earth Collective): https://vimeo.com/836371170 

Seven Stories of Individuals who Pre-planned their Goodbyes in Unexpected and Meaningful Ways (14 July 2023):  https://www.myasd.com/blog/7-stories-individuals-who-preplanned-their-goodbyes-unexpected-and-meaningful-ways?fbclid=IwAR0sndqNvQa4zMyzVfUdCDwmymoXEM8FMjG2dSVN4xavczVlgF5p2C5V7UA

Making Friends with Death (Private Facebook Group hosted by Chaplain Alley Smith): https://www.facebook.com/groups/makingfriendswithdeath


About the Teachers

Chaplain Alley Smith is an ordained Buddhist Chaplain in the Shambhala Lineage. She serves at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island as a Buddhist Minister of Religion. She is an experienced hospice and end of life care chaplain. Alley is a US military war veteran. During her career, Alley served with the military funeral honors Honor Guard. She specializes in end of life care, mortuary affairs and as a funeral clergy. Alley has been a student of Shambhala Buddhism and Zen since 1999.

Meli-Tashi Happy is a Death Doula and the End-of-Life Coordinator for Seattle Shambhala Center. She started her meditation journey in the Zen tradition in 1997. She found the Shambhala teachings in 2007 and is a student of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. She believes we learn best through conversations where we feel safe to relax and share our hearts and minds, and focuses on creating containers for discussion on a variety of subjects around meditation, Buddhist studies, and especially for end-of-life topics. 


Please reach out to Chaplain Alley Smith with any course related questions – [email protected] 

2023-10-02 18:10:07