As a minister with a Master of Arts in Culture & Spirituality, I bring a holistic perspective to my work as a doula, as well as to weddings, funerals and other services where people mark important moments with ritual and celebration. My spiritual approach is based in evolutionary cosmology, a perspective where science and spirit are one, and human beings are rooted in the story of the Universe. When we see our lives with “deep time” eyes, we understand that we have always been part of this Universe, that we belong here, that everything is related, and that we are each, ultimately, as vast and as old, as loving and creative, as awesome and eternal as the Universe itself.
As an End of Life Doula, I help people and their families face death as consciously and as peacefully as possible. With over 20 years of counseling and community/family mediation experience, I am comfortable with intense feelings, as well as with the kinds of issues that can arise for families around a loved one’s passing. I help people reflect on the meaning of their lives, on what’s important to them in their final days, weeks or months, and on how they want to be remembered. I also help them develop rituals, if they’d like, surrounding their passing.
As a celebrant, I help families create ceremonies to honor their loved ones, including anything they want to bring, such as music, poems, flowers or special rituals. I listen carefully to their stories and, if desired, I write a eulogy. I also offer relevant readings as well as ideas for expressing what this individual, and their passing, means to those whose lives were entwined with theirs. Just as every person is unique, so is every service.
I am a founding member of Pittsburgh Community Deathcare, and have helped to organize and facilitate Death Cafes. When I’m not involved in death-related events, I’m often at the East End Food Co-op, where I work as the book buyer, striving to offer insightful books—from permaculture to poetry, parenting to politics—that inspire people to live in more conscious connection. I also love mentoring homeschoolers and their parents, and I sometimes lead classes and workshops on topics like Journey of the Universe, Food & Mindfulness and Mandala-Making.
I grew up in Shaler Township and graduated from Shaler Area High School. I attended Duquesne University, thinking I would become a French teacher, but soon realized I wanted to join the funeral service industry. As the daughter of a funeral director, I was very comfortable with death. (My brothers and I played hide and seek among caskets!)
After I graduated from Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, I went on to do my internship at McDonald-Linn Funeral Home in Avalon, where I stayed as a licensee until joining my dad, James, at Healy-Hahn Funeral Properties. I worked with my father until 2012, when I started my own business, Hahn Funeral Home & Cremation Services. I am a core member of Pittsburgh Community Deathcare, and president of Green Burial Pittsburgh, a non-profit that promotes environmentally friendly burial options. I like to help people find alternative ways to celebrate their loved ones’ passing.
Currently, I live in Shaler with my husband, Justin Renda, our twin boys, Colin and Jacob, and my stepdaughter, Emalee. I am very active in the Millvale community, where I serve as president of the Millvale Community Development Corporation. I also belong to Christ Lutheran Church in Millvale and am very involved with our monthly free Community Table dinners.