Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.
– RUMI –
Birgitta is a sensitive, deeply heart-driven end-of-life transition guide whom I highly recommend to anyone facing their own or a loved-one’s final transition.
Olivia Bareham Founder of Sacred Crossings
Birgitta is one of the most compassionate people I have met. She brings a beautiful sense of presence into any situation. Her ability to know when to say what ( or be silent) is something that is intuitive and special. She is a person of grace and that cannot be taught. She is truly a gift. I was impressed with how she was able to be with a veteran with PTSD with patience, understanding, and kindness. I highly recommend her, she is a blessing in her field for everyone she comes across.
Shelley Whizin Lead trainer for The Twilight Brigade, Los Angeles
When my husband was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, metastasized to his spine, I was terrified knowing he probably didn’t have long to live. My son introduced me to an angel by the name of Birgitta Kastenbaum. I don’t know how we could have coped without her. She guided us through each and every hurdle that we faced – such as tough conversations, important legal matters, palliative care, and ultimately hospice care. She spoke with all family members at one time or another and answered their questions with clarity and compassion. Most importantly, she was at our home with us when my husband passed and led us through, what I can only describe as, a beautiful experience. She continues to stay in touch and offer her expertise through these difficult days of mourning. I can’t say enough good about this amazing woman who is most certainly doing the challenging and important work that she is meant to do. I give her the highest possible recommendation.
Linda GoldmanLos Angeles, CA
You are a living angel Birgitta. So much guidance…
Laurie B. Los Angeles
A cocoon of love. When a loved one is nearing the end of their life, they are often in need of spiritual, emotional, and personal support. We want them to have the best experience they can have. It’s often hard for us to be a caregiver, be grieving, and give our loved one the support they need. Often we feel confused, overwhelmed, and not sure what to do. This is when the special work of Birgitta Kastenbaum can be a blessing for your loved one and for you. People always want to know how something works. Well, it would be easier for me to explain how medicines work (I managed a research lab at the University of California, San Francisco medical school for 11 years) than it would be for me to explain HOW Birgitta does what she does.
When people are nearing the end of their life, they can be very open or very closed, it can be a whole range of emotions. Birgitta observes them and adjusts her behaviors to where and how they are in that moment. It’s as if she builds a cocoon of love, and is totally present to that person. She might lightly sing to them, speak to them, touch them, she might just silently be with them and gaze into their eyes. I am not sure of the how but It’s a spiritual and loving connection between Birgitta and the person who is approaching the end of their physical life. I now know that her work is something beautiful, loving and amazing.
We have an amazing caregiver, Jerome, the best caregiver I have ever seen. He has many years of experience, he’s worked with rich and famous people, and he comes from the heart. When he saw Birgitta work, he was amazed. He said to me, “look at how happy he looks.” The effect lingered and the next day he really noticed a difference too. Jerome said to me, “She should be working with all hospices!” I had the same reaction when I watched her work. In this kind of work, no one can promise any particular results. In the time she has worked with my partner, I saw more smiles than I’ve seen for a long time. If that’s all that happened, that’s enough for me; to have more joy at the end of one’s life, even if it’s just for a time, is an incredible gift. And I believe something much more important happened, something I can’t really describe.
Birgitta’s work has been a huge help to me. She has helped ease my sense of grief and helplessness.
Art Giser Founder of Energetic NLP
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping M. You being there makes me feel like everything’s going to be OK. Thank you for helping her and her family and for all the work that you do. I so believe M. now has peace.
Mrs. Silver Los Angeles, CA
K. was so happy when she found out you would be coming in to work with her. You helped her to relax and your energy in her home was good for everyone during the last days of her life. Thank you.
Patient Advocate, Los Angles CA
Birgitta is one of those rare women whose light draws you toward her. She has an energy about her that is kind, loving and funny. Her good humor and kind heart is just a small piece of what makes her a comforting choice when dealing with a dying loved one. She is passionate about easing the transition of leaving this life, for both the dying person and their loved ones. I’m honored to call her my colleague and friend.
Jenny Jordan Grief support coach
It’s hard to describe the many and ineffable benefits of having had Birgitta’s services available to us, from pre-hospice decisions to before my relative’s passing. She answered questions I didn’t know I had. For a few weeks, we communicated by email, phone, and text followed by one in-person visit.
And even though we only had her come for one visit, her calm and generous spirit and approach permeated the rest of the time I had with my loved one.
When I didn’t know what to say, I would just pretend to be Birgitta and say what came to my lips from my heart. It was a huge comfort to me and, I believe, to my relative.
In addition to the spiritual and emotional benefits, Birgitta was an important source of information on how to deal with the logistics and legalities of passing away in a hospital environment.
Worth every penny, and more.
N. Anderson Seattle, WA
Birgitta’s light and energy draw you in. You want to be a part of whatever she is about. She has the innate ability to make you feel comforted, safe, loved, and peaceful. Not everyone is comfortable with the topic of death and dying but Birgitta holds your hand and guides you through the most difficult event that we experience in our lives. She is a sensitive, compassionate, authentic coach and I feel blessed and grateful that she is a part of my life.
Coauthor of Pebbles in the Pond, Transforming the World One Person at a time
I can’t tell you how relieved I am to have had Birgitta’s help. I am an only child and it is my sole responsibility to care for my mother. Birgitta facilitated several conversations and shared valuable information which led to us documenting our wishes and communicating them to other family members. Birgitta is a dedicated, professional with a genuine passion and love for how a family can come together and support someone they love needing to make decisions and living through change, in a way that is guided and respectful to that person. Everything is in place for when my mother’s health begins to fail and I now know what my mother’s expectations and wishes are due to Birgitta’s counseling.
Birgitta has helped me calm down about my perception of death and all the possibilities that might come my way in the future so I feel more at ease which is an almost impossible task. I know she will be my go to support and resource for many years to come.
Laurey Bennett Levy
Beverly Hills, CA
Dying, grieving and death are topics that I personally avoid. It’s too scary. But ever since I’ve met Birgitta this topic got a different dimension. Birgitta is so passionate and at ease with this natural part of live that it makes you want to tap into her knowledge and energy. She empowers her clients in making decisions that work and are right for them. Birgitta is an expert in her field, well connected and knows how to open doors. She is a coach who can guide you though difficult times and help you find peace of mind.
Laguna Beach, CA Founder Salt coaching
“Birgitta and Ta are answered prayer for our organization! They generously take their time to facilitate our “Monthly Tea Talks,” a drop-in time to explore and share about living and dying and, to quote Birgitta, “all those messy parts in between.” Additionally, they see clients and their families individually in their homes, often helping them to live more fully and die more consciously and with love, communication and cohesion. Ta and Birgitta bring their experience, high intention and great compassion to their work. We’re grateful!”
Associate Director, OjaiCARES Cancer Resource Center
Thank you for the wonderful teachings and insights, and to everyone participating as well for sharing the time in warmth and openness.
Traverse City, MI
Thank you dear Birgitta for an amazing evening. It was perfect! You gave so much information and I now have tools to help me and my mom.
Los Angeles, CA
I loved last night. It was even better then I imagined. Your presence, energy and knowledge were the perfect combination to lead and anchor the talks.
Los Angeles, CA
I was deeply moved while listening to Birgitta’s raw emotion and passion when she spoke about honoring the dying and grieving process during a life coaching workshop.
I only wish I had met her fifteen years earlier when my family and I struggled with personal and moral issues surrounding the sad and lengthly illness of both my parents.
With profound and genuine regard for the end of life process, Birgitta helped me understand that there are many ways to honor a dying persons wishes while respecting the past, present and future dynamics within a family and helping the loved ones being left behind.
For a topic that can be extremely difficult to discuss, Birgitta creates an environment of trust and non judgement and encourages open dialogue in a supportive and safe setting.
I feel genuinely lucky to have met Birgitta.
She has changed the way I embrace the unknown.
The “In the end there’s only love” Retreat was so empowering, amazing, and Informative!
So much like Midwifery, transiting out of this world is so similar to transitioning and birthing into the world!
Observing and creating the sacred space, supporting the family’s as well as the person going through transition, and working as hard as the laboring woman does. Being quiet when needed, being in the moment, being mindful and respectful.
Keeping our focus o figuring out what the needs are and encouraging the families in helping to meet these needs…I am looking forward to level 2.
Love & Blessings
Traverse City, MI
Such a sacred weekend, an absolute GIFT.
Traverse City, MI
I feel so blessed to have taken Level 1 and 2 of “In the end…there is only Love”, a weekend retreat devoted to conscious dying and mindful after death care. Birgitta and Cheserae are amazing teachers and bring a personal level of commitment to this incredible work. Their loving spirits, compassionate natures, and deep knowledge of the subject came through in their teachings. The materials they provided were in-depth and practical.
They created an inclusive space where I felt safe to explore my own feelings and abilities by doing practical, meaningful exercises. This work is so crucial and touches my soul deeply. It was truly a profound experience for me.
Thank you so much for the amazing weekend. It was perfect preparation for living and meeting the huge challenges in my life. I am embarking on the toughest time of my life and l needed the support and peace and community that you and Ta provided.
I am glad to be a part of your Facebook group. And I will call on you for guidance when I am preparing for the passing of anyone close to me. And I will pass on your information to anyone I know who is in need.
I feel much more prepared to meet life and death than I did on Friday.
Mary Louise CA
Thank you both for a beautiful experience. Each person there made it that much more special and personal. Birgitta and Ta, you brought all the love, knowledge, energy I had hoped for, and more.
Corrine D. Calabasas, CA
Thank you, Cheserae and Birgitta for sharing your knowledge and passion for essential oils with me. I have been a working with seniors and elders as a Certified Personal Trainer for over 30 years, I now use Doterra essential oils with my fitness clients and the benefits have been remarkable. I incorporate the use of the oils into fitness and wellness routines, whether it’s for motivation, stamina, energy, to support the aging process, or just overall well-being.
I have seen them bring joy and relief and some of my clients think they are quite miraculous!. They have also brought peace to clients who I have guided through their hospice process.
I do not leave home without them!
Cathy Nadell, Certified Personal Trainer/ fitness consultant/ specialization in support of seniors and elders/ essential oil specialist/ End of life Doula
I am so thankful that I sought Birgitta’s skillful help in designing a scent for myhealth, resilience and renewal, especially during these stressful and emotionally challenging times.
After interviewing me at length, she designed a blend of doTerra essential oils (the purest and best out there!) that I love so much, I apply it several times a day. She put together a kit for me to be able to make my own blends, with thorough instruction about what properties each of the five component oils have, and made it easy for me to order.
Now that my order has come, I feel empowered and equipped to choose my own diffuser oils, make and adjust my own blends, and integrate the use of these heavenly plant-medicine allies into my self care each day. I completed my consultation with her feeling immensely well supported and grateful for her skillfulness and sensitivity. Her ability to hear, sense and integrate what I needed into formulating a unique blend that suits my sensibilities so well is truly a gift. I recommend her services whole-heartedly and with great pleasure as a great value and gift in support of your own well-being.
Nina Simons, Bioneers, Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Strategist, Author, Speaker, Santa Fe, NM
…I can’t tell you what it meant to give the teachers their own personalized essential oil blend! There were tears around the room and it was truly the perfect ending to what has been voted on as our most favorite teacher retreats yet.
R Heimann, Executive Director The New School West, Adjunct Faculty Santa Monica College.
Attending the conscious dying and living retreat was both heart opening and transformative. Cheserae and Birgitta are wise women awakening people to a more present and conscious way to relate to death. They are true master teachers, walking the path they preach.
The retreat gave me a deeper understanding of grief, my own, and the collective grief we all share. It also helped me embrace a deeper knowing of how to die consciously. With this knowing, I am inspired to support others in service, to teach others how to relate to death with an open heart and how to approach the dying process with deep meaningful ritual.
The conscious dying retreat has forever changed my relationship to death and has given me tools to support those around me during their dying process. In a world so full of suffering with so much that needs our attention, I can’t think of a better way to be of service and to continue to help transform the world with more consciousness than to help people transform their relationship to death. This retreat is something everyone should be a part of. It will help deepen your relationship with yourself and it will enrich the preciousness of this human experience. I am forever grateful to the community of women I sat with during these retreats. It felt like we tapped into a long and powerful lineage of women and healers. A deep remembering occurred that I now carry with me forward in service. Thank you
Emily Fleck, M.A., L.M.F.T., Ventura, CA
I will be forever grateful to Birgitta and Cheserae for caring for our dying and their families and for bringing this knowledge and knowing back into our consciousness. The course covered all the practical information around preparing for death and tending to bodies and also the spiritual work one should do around their own death and, if you chose, to be of service to others. Everything was presented beautifully and with care, grace and thoughtfulness. This is a course I believe everyone should take, even if you do not plan to become a midwife. It is important, beautifully sacred work and a remembering there is another way to “do” death. To honor our loved ones in this way is a gift for us all.
Jamie Mellein, Kundalini and Prenatal Yoga Teacher, Ojai, CA
Level one training was very intimate and heart-opening. My take away was that in living consciously, we can assist people in dying consciously. And our training, is to prepare to hold space for love, compassion and understanding on behalf of and for our dying, including ourselves.
Love Nguyen, artist and director, Santa Barbara, CA
Everything I have learned from Birgitta + Cheserae has been life changing. I look at life and death through a more sacred, conscious lense. Our time together was deep, insightful, and healing. It changed my trajectory and guided me onto the path of caring for those nearing death and their families as well as assisting people through their grief. I am eternally grateful for the love and support my sisters/ teachers shower onto me.
Amber Deylon, California
In 2004 when my grandmother was actively dying, I happened upon a book that used the teachings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead as a support for spiritual healing. Inspired by these teachings, I read and sat in meditation beside my grandmother for seven days before she finally passed. This gift helped me realize the transformative power of meditation in being with each other and that witnessing impermanence can profoundly inspire spiritual inquiry. This began my Buddhist practice.
It was of great fortune to meet Birgitta and Ta (Cheserae) when they visited Traverse City, Michigan to offer the Conscious Aging and Dying Retreat. The weekend was full of helpful teachings, and one that was particularly inspiring arose from the question of how to help the dying work through fear of death. Birgitta replied: “If you are afraid of the dark, you don’t ask for help from someone who is also afraid of the dark, you want to be with someone who is fearless.” With that there was a shift that sparked new enthusiasm in working with my own fear around death as a way to serve others. When I asked about the fear of not knowing what to do when it is time to serve, they said “You’ll know”. And I really felt that from them beyond their words.
If you are considering attending their workshops and retreats, don’t hesitate. You will be inspired in ways unexpected.
Kozan Karen McLean, Sangha Director, SokukoJi Buddhist Community-Traverse City, MI
Thank you for providing the students with such a meaningful lecture yesterday. I think it really touched many of them, brought this very important part of their future work into focus in a new way. It is so important that they feel empowered to meet their patients and their families in this space; you gave them an inroad to do so.
Thank you again for teaching the nurses of tomorrow about your area of expertise!
Zane Stumbrs Muthamia, MSN, RN Assistant Professor, ABSN Program Mount Saint Mary’s University
On behalf of the California Retired Teachers Association, we would like to thank you for your presentation at our lunch meeting yesterday. Several members commented that they really appreciated the information you shared and that they now might be able to have a conversation with their families.
Your introduction to the POLST form also sparked a lot of interest. Once again, thank you.
Soozi, CalRTA – California Retired Teachers Association, 2018
We were so fortunate to have Birgitta Kastenbaum at the Mar Vista Green Tent several times in the past few years. Not only did she present valuable information about the latest advances in green burial, she broached the topic of death as a part of life in A public setting. These conversations are essential if we are to return to a culture that embraces all the stages of life. Birgitta has a natural ability to hold these conversations with ease and sensitivity. Jeanne Kuntz
We would love to hear from you
Writing a testimonial for us to share with others, is a wonderful way to pay it forward. Much care, love, and attention have been given to all we do and we are so grateful for the trust you have placed in us to be a small part of your journey.
Birgitta and Cheserae