Sarah Chavez is changing the way we think about death. She is one of the founders of the Death Positive movement, using her voice to examine the relationship between ritual, decolonization and death itself. As the executive director of the “Order of the Good Death,” a founding member of “The Collective for Radical Death Studies”, and co-founder of feminist site “Death & the Maiden,” Sarah’s multifaceted approach to observing and honoring this process is unparalleled; her work weaves together the relationship between death and food, rituals, culture, and society, which she also shares on her blog “Nourishing Death.” And with her work as a museum curator, Sarah has the uncanny ability to intertwine the ethereal and abstract process of dying into a relatable and tangible experience that can be understood and interacted with. Her latest project, the podcast “Death in the Afternoon” with co-hosts Caitlin Doughty, and Louise Hung, holds this same energy. Sarah will continue sharing her unique, fantastical life with listeners, while of course sharing plenty of anecdotes about death as well.
Sarah grew up around death. As the child of parents in the entertainment industry, she was raised witnessing choreographed Hollywood deaths on soundstages. Sarah’s work has been influenced by this unique upbringing, and she has dedicated her adult life to examining death and dying through an intersectional-feminist and inclusive lens.
As one of the founders of the Death Positive movement, she is passionate about addressing the underlying issues that adversely effect marginalized communities’ experiences of death and uses her work as an activist to advocate for others to reclaim experiences around dying. She does this by sharing history, and her own rituals and ideas for decolonizing death. The goal of this all is to help inspire others to create a healthier relationship with death and mourning, to better serve their own needs as well as those of the community at large. Sarah’s work centers women, both as death professionals and as a part of the Death Positive movement. She uses her platform to help examine the historical and cultural reasons women are at the forefront of death activism, and then she places the narrative back in the hands of the women who are actively doing this work and shifting the future of death.
Sarah’s empowering message weaves into this life, and not just that which lies beyond. She became a historian to preserve the culture and history of the Latinx neighborhood she was raised in, and she became a museum curator for a similar reason; to help share the story of women’s history, as well as other silenced peoples, like the stories of those with Japanese ancestry who were imprisoned in internment camps. Sarah uses her own story to help others see the light as well. She was the subject of a chapter in Caitlin Doughty’s NYT bestselling book, From Here to Eternity, and she has done research and writing and is the editor for The Order, and has worked on popular YouTube series, Ask a Mortician. Sarah continues using her voice to stand up and advocate for those who don’t have the privilege; in this life and beyond.