Karen Bernard, MA

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.

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