Sara Bert '06
Death is part of life, yet it can feel like being lost in the dark depths of the wilderness for those experiencing or coping with it. Sara Bert Web ’06 strives to be the light that guides them through.

While at Hamilton, Web experienced her first big loss when her grandmother, who made her education possible, passed away. No one in her family knew what to do.

“I promised myself that I would never be so lost in that process again,” she says.

Web soon found a community of people learning how to navigate grief and death, and she stayed engaged in it for years while working as a keeper at zoo aquariums. When the pandemic hit, she was laid off and took her career in a different direction. She trained to become a death doula, a professional end-of-life guide who serves the dying and their loved ones, those facing the loss of a beloved pet, and animal care professionals experiencing loss at zoos and aquariums.

Since launching her business, Illumination End-of-Life Guidance, Web has helped local clients and others around the world via phone and Zoom. Her services, which have been featured in TIME and on MSNBC and NBC News, don’t replace end-of-life medical care. Instead, she supports and complements the care provided by doctors and hospice or other palliative care resources.

“I can offer the gift of time. I can give more undivided attention,” she says. “I’m a consistent presence throughout the entire process.”

As she guides others, she is reminded of the sage advice she received from the late Professor of Theatre Carole Bellini-Sharp and lessons learned in class from theatre professors Craig Latrell and Mark Cryer, among others.

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“They taught us about the pure gold currency of raw, genuine presence, and they taught me how to access that on stage. That’s my currency now with my clients,” she says. “I show up in a profound way. That’s something I learned how to do at Hamilton.”

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