I have an extensive background, and an enormous passion, in the transitions of birth and death. Below, you can learn a little (or a lot) more about who I am.
Hi! My name is Kelli Barr-Lyles and I'm glad you've found your way to my website. Let me tell you a little more about myself and how I found my way to the work I do today.
I hold a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Sociology from Upper Iowa University and a Master of Arts in Gerontology with two core concentrations in Aging and the Family and Geriatric Care Management from Nova Southeastern University.
I am a Certified Counselor with Washington State. I am certified with the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) as Childbirth Educator and Doula, Trainer for both, as well as a Postnatal Educator. I am also a certified Death Midwife, and certified ARCH healer.
My education and training would mean nothing if it was not backed up with passion in my chosen fields. However, my passion was ignited by life events which changed the course of my path. If you were looking at a website created by me way back in 1998, you would seen a list of my accounting related services. And then, later that year, my first son was born and opened up the world of childbirth and new parenting to me. That child changed the entire trajectory of my life path and immersed me in the world of childbirth and ignited my passion for supporting expecting and new parents through their own unique journeys. Additionally, I experienced a postpartum mood disorder which rocked my world, but from which I learned SO much about myself. I aim to make the childbearing year less scary and inspire families to find humor throughout pregnancy/labor/birth and postpartum even in the face of any difficulties. I also have a strong passion for making sure that fathers are included throughout the process of pregnancy, labor and childbirth as they so choose. I believe that society currently does a very poor job of caring for all expecting and new parents, but a terrible job of taking care of expecting and new dads. And so began my work as a birth doula, childbirth educator and counselor.
In 2009, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died seven months later. Her death, once again, altered my life path and inspired my belief that everyone should have the opportunity to have a "good death" if at all possible. Hospice was my support and I knew I wanted to be able to assist and support other families through the process of dying and death. Additionally, my mom's death immersed me in grief and I learned I had to walk through the path of grief, and that it was likely a lifelong path. I developed a passion for grief and found it to be inspiring and full of life lessons. I knew I wanted to assist others through their own grief process. As the years have passed and I have been immersed more and more in the world of death and grief, I have developed a strong belief in the need for more discussion about death. It doesn't have to be a taboo topic and I aspire to share as much information as possible in ways that are comfortable and perhaps even (gasp) humorous. I am a firm believer that laughter can make everything easier to handle. And so began my path towards death midwifery. Today I work with families who are preparing and planning for death, whether death is imminent or no where in the foreseeable future. Birth and death are the two things we will all do on this earth. Parents make "birth plans" when expecting a baby. It is just as important for us all to make a "death plan" in order to have a say in how we would like the end of our life handled (if possible) and certainly how we would like our physical body handled post-death and what kind of memorial or funeral service we would like to have. More and more people are planning their own funerals and writing their own obituaries. And there is a growing movement to bring death home. More people are dying at home with the assistance of organizations like hospice and with loving care and support from their friends and family. Some of these people are then choosing to have home funerals. I work with families in the preparation stages, and also in individual homes for more personalized assistance with a home funeral. I am also ordained and can serve as a celebrant at any service whether in, or outside of, the home. And I also specialize in grief counseling both before and after the death of a loved one (or in relation to all forms of grief).
After my mother's death, I slowly became a secondary caregiver to my father who has Parkinson's disease. In 2013, my dad moved from his home 2 1/2 hours away from me to an assisted living community much closer to my home. I learned an incredible amount about Parkinson's disease and the difficulties (and joys) of being a caregiver and, once again, this ignited both my passion for caring for caregivers and my desire make the aging process as easy as possible for our older population and the ones that love them. Thus began my work in geriatric care management. I handle all aspects of geriatric care management, but specialize in hospital to home transitions, the transition to assisted living or skilled nursing from the home environment, care for caregivers, and dying, death and grief. My dad died in 2015 and I began a whole new walk of grief and was reminded that every time is unique and profound and provides incredible life lessons if we are willing to immerse ourselves in the grief process.
I am passionate about all my work, but also am passionate about balance in my life and my belief in spending quality time with my family which includes my husband, our three teenage boys and three cats. I enjoy spending some quiet time in meditation each day (sometimes it's just two minutes, but I'll take it!), practicing yoga, and hula hooping :). I delight in a good cup of coffee, especially when it's shared with friends. My happiest of places is anywhere along the Pacific Ocean (preferably Oregon and Washington coast).
I am an open book and am happy to answer any questions you may have about my personal or professional life. I love meeting new people, hearing life stories, and am honored every single time someone invites me into their life during transitional periods which is when every human being deserves extra loving support.