Oceana Sawyer is an End of Life Doula focused on the liminal space of active dying and grief. She is currently researching and holding space in the realm of embodied grieving in a context of somatic abolitionism. Drawing upon her meditation practices, experience as a sensuality educator, earth-based spirituality, and an intensive study in the expressive arts and integral counseling psychology, she brings a grounded, compassionate presence to her work with individuals and groups. You can follow her on her website and participate in her online grief community on Patreon. Her first book, “Life, Death, Grief and the Possibility of Pleasure” is due out in August 2022.
Tell us: what excites you about your work right now?
Creating spaces where Black and Brown folx can explore embodied grieving toward liberation in a sensual context.
What feels rich and abundant in your work right now?
It feels like more of us are available for deeper experiences that allow for a fuller metabolization of racialized trauma and grief through means that engage the body and any or all of the senses to a degree that we actually create the possibility of true freedom, liberation, wisdom, and eldership for ourselves.
Who do you dedicate your work to?
My work is always dedicated to my mama, Vivian Wilcox Lott, who believed in her People and her daughter whom she believed to be her greatest contribution to her People and the Generations. Also, the Ancestor who I refer to as Great Grandmother Africa. She waited for me for through all the generations, and then held me through grieving my mother into the elder I am becoming today. My work is guided and dedicated to her as well.
Who inspires you, who are you learning from, what books are you reading? We are really excited to learn this about you!
Right now, I am being inspired by and learning fromHarriett Tubman, Resmaa Menakem, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Bayo Akomolafe, Sobonfu Somé, bronte velez, Kai Cheng Thom, Akilah Richards, Tricia Hersey, Alice Walker, Vic Baranco, and Episode 7 of Love Craft Country.
The books I have read and continue to reference are Hospicing Modernity, by Vanessa Andreotti, My Grandmother's Hands by Resmaa Menakem, Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown, Undrowned by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, You are Your Best Thing by Tarana Burke, Who Dies by Stephan and Ondrea Levine, and Die Wise by Stephan Jenkinson.
How can people reading this support the work you are doing?
You can join my Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/user) or make a one-time contribution (https://checkout.square.site/pay/1f7387bdf94745e9b579305fbe4c4378).
What do you understand differently about wellness?
What I didn't know before I got into this journey with grief is how it's not an event with a beginning, middle, and an end. It's more like a rite of passage that will forever change you. If you allow it, it will deepen, refine, and mature you into a full human being capable of enjoying the full range of human experience. This is especially true for people in Black and Brown bodies because we live in a particularly dehumanizing context. So that the act of tending to our grief is actually an enlivening and revolutionary act that would be useful to cultivate rather than deny.
What is your own wellness practice? How do you find balance?
When it comes to grieving and wellness, I try to stay current in the relationships that matter. I don't let funky shit hang out too long. It really helps with being fully present and being fully alive.
I also eat clean food, spend a bit of time in quiet reflection, walk, laugh as often as possible, and savor moments that feel good.
The Transistance Network
Black Inmate Commissary Fund
Indigenous Karuk and Yaruk Ceremonial Leader
Sovereign Spirit Death Care
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