A Sacred Moment Staff
We arrived on different paths, but we all came to ASM with open hearts and passion to support families at their time of grief and loss.
Char’s path led her through personal losses, giving back through hospice, and experiencing the healing impact of home funerals.
Jan’s path led to a chance meeting at a Seattle coffee house where her passion was ignited for home funerals and green burials.
Bindi followed her four paws right into our hearts from Liberty Labradoodles in McMinnville, Oregon. Now her path is to the front door as our official greeter.
At A Sacred Moment, we are honored to serve every family that walks their own path to our door.
Char Barrett thinks of herself as the queen of Excel. There’s no problem or plan she can put her mind around without whipping out a spreadsheet. Some say it’s because she’s a Virgo. Others bring up her practical Michigan roots. Whatever the reason, Char is very organized.
She’s also clever and handy. Like nobody else, she can maneuver a casket through a basement window. This happened once during a home funeral, and it’s a long story. Trust that she’s resourceful.
Such characteristics are a boon for a small business owner, especially the pioneering kind. Char’s baby, A Sacred Moment, is one of the first funeral services to go beyond customary cremations and burials. It also offers new, actually ancient, alternatives—home funerals and green burials.
Even with a spreadsheet, Char couldn’t have imagined all this just a few years ago. For the longest time, she worked in corporations and nonprofits, using her business degree. But along the way, her father and then Margaret, her dearest friend, died. The difference between their deaths—his in a hospital room and hers peacefully at home, through hospice—distressed and amazed Char, affecting her profoundly.
As a way to give back for Margaret’s gentler death, Char took grief and bereavement training, which allowed her to devote hundreds of hours as a hospice volunteer. Then, helped by her background in public speaking, Char became a certified celebrant. She could now create and deliver meaningful funeral services and life celebrations.
Clearly her small inner voice was behind the wheel. She finally resolved to quit her stable, “normal” job to earn a degree in mortuary science. Right, she told her surprised friends, she was becoming a funeral director. But it had to be a different sort. She was inspired by the concept of home funerals. At-home vigils made perfect sense, for they transitioned naturally from today’s home hospice model of care.
While studying for her degree, Char also became a home funeral guide. She trained with Final Passages, founded by Jerrigrace Lyons, one of the founders of the modern home funeral movement. From Jerrigrace and then other practitioners, Char learned how to support a family wanting to care for their own loved one after death.
In 2007, Char set herself up in business, calling it A Sacred Moment. She worked solo from her home and then opened a Seattle office. Finally in 2010, she moved to a suite of offices in south Everett, complete with like-minded staff and her comfort dog named Bindi.
The next two years, she also served as the first president of the National Home Funeral Alliance. The group acts as a bridge between the existing funeral industry and the growing grassroots home funeral movement.
Char has now guided dozens of families through home funeral vigils in the Seattle area and beyond, via phone and video consultations. Giving workshops and presentations, she has lectured to public and professional audiences, both in the U.S. and abroad. She has also been in the news, profiled in newspapers, magazines, on radio and televison, and in green burial and home funeral books.
Char’s family includes her supportive husband George, their three children, and growing brood of grandchildren. She loves to cook, entertain, garden, and take Bindi with her to Camp Erin, an annual three-day summer bereavement camp for children.
Jan Pollard’s life changed at the Green Bean Coffee House in Seattle.
Up until then, for years, she had been a lead editor at magazines and business-to-consumer websites. Her writing had been published in literary reviews and national magazines. She had received fiction fellowships from Stanford University and the University of Iowa, where she earned a master of fine arts degree. She was all about editing and writing.
Now at the Green Bean, a normal-looking woman named Char Barrett was giving an after-hours talk, with photos, about our death-denying culture. This was in 2007, before the advent of death cafes, where people can gather to express their feelings about our number one avoided topic.
As the chatty woman projected photos of the dead in decorated cardboard caskets, Jan was stunned and curious. To learn more, she enrolled in one of Char’s home funeral workshops. And from there, she just followed her feet. It wasn’t something decided, and it can be disconcerting to admit, but Jan felt called to death work.
Jan began assisting Char on home funerals—all different and all very moving. She also helped out at workshops and trained as a hospice volunteer and certified celebrant. For a time she volunteered at People’s Memorial Association, a local nonprofit that helps people avoid the sales pressure and high costs of the funeral industry.
Finally in 2010, Jan helped Char open her office in south Everett. Meeting there with families, arranging dispositions, Jan has heard a lot about pain, sorrow, love, and strength. She’ll never view strangers in grocery lines quite the same.
Now a licensed funeral director, she also continues to write, preferably in a cafe where no laundry is waiting. With her husband Bill, she loves eating good food and exploring new places. She also loves her family, friends, and fellow creatures, with a soft spot for wolves, the cat family, elephants, and her goddaughter-dog Bindi.
Bindi is serious about her role at A Sacred Moment.
Example: From way down the hall, she can tell who’s walking through the door. If it’s a staff member, she keeps snoozing in her bed. But if it’s a grieving family, she trots out to politely greet them.
Wearing her work uniform, a purple bandana with her name on it, Bindi somehow just knows. She senses when she needs to be “on,” and whether that means hanging out in the background, or enjoying lots of pats, hugs, and treats.
Nearly all families like her. A miniature Labradoodle, she’s not too big and not too small. Her curly blond hair feels extra soft. Her brown eyes are soulful and smart. In fact, she has only been banned once, by a widow fearful of dogs, and Bindi was shocked. You could see it on her face as she vanished to her bed.
Bindi is a trained comfort dog. It’s also called therapy dog. She and her human Char are a Certified Therapy Team through Project Canine. They’re also a Certified Pet Team through Providence Hospice of Seattle. Bindi’s response to commands would impress Cesar Millan.
She knows how to knock off from work, though. Once her purple bandana comes off at home, she goes wild and chases around the backyard. There’s a pet door in the fence, too, allowing her visits with neighbor dogs Milo and Tucker. With her humans, Char and George, she goes on walks, chases balls, and adores running on beaches.
She also loves kids, and lets them paint her. Not for a picture, but actual fur painting. Most recently Bindi was orange. This happened at Camp Erin, a summer bereavement camp for children who have lost a parent, relative, or friend. A long-term camp volunteer, Char has teamed up with young Bindi twice. Since Bindi enjoyed it—especially helping Char wake up kids in the morning—she’ll no doubt become a long-term volunteer too.