Summer is a full-spectrum doula who has been working in holistic health education and spiritual care services since 2013. As the founder of Sunflower Services, Summer writes and shares their blog, artwork, and care work. Many of their resources provide opportunities for building consent, communication boundaries, and care skills.
Summer feels most at home cozied up with a sci-fi or fantasy novel. They enjoy collaborating in imagination, play, and joyful learning opportunities among small groups. They are committed to growing and modeling a framework of consent and authenticity in theology, care planning, and death care education.
Summer Diegel received a B.A. from Seattle University in Theology & Religious Studies, and is currently pursuing a masters degree in education, studying K-12 Advanced Teaching. Currently, they serve as the Youth Ministry Coordinator forValley and Mountain, volunteer within the National Home Funeral Alliance, and volunteer on the board of directors within A Sacred Passing: Death Midwifery and Education.
Picture: Summer and Grandmother Emily outside of Emily's work in south Texas. They are embraced in a side hug with both of their blond hair blowing in the wind. Summer smiles at the camera and Emily looks out toward the beach. Summer has on clear framed glasses, a grey sweater, and pink shirt. Emily is wearing a graphic t-shirt with street art font.
Joy and Pleasure
Celebrating joy and pleasure can include creating art and/or documenting a person's joy, building an interconnected web of support, and creating a pleasure plan. This is an opportunity to meet with someone to discuss overall hopes, goals, and needs. Each person and their companions are invited to assess what day-to-day care you may need to uplift joy and pleasure within periods of transition such as gender, pregnancy, illness, changes in diagnosis, and death.
I supported in the caretaking of my family beginning at a very young age. Throughout my early childhood, I became familiar with grief and the way it impacted the people closest to me, many of us being some intersection of white, working poor, disabled, and queer-- many who are or were experiencing addiction or domestic violence. The people who contributed to raising me, loving me, are people who have survived life so far and who are trying to shift the patterns of harm they (we) were taught. Because of this intimate grief, care work means many things to me. I am blessed to continuously experience expansive care work with both familiarity and mystery.
Since 2010, I have been a part of peer-led work within sexual health education and community outreach programs in Montana and Washington. I collaborated with Planned Parenthood of MT's Teen Council, assistant teaching consent-based and body-positive curriculum in our two local high schools. In this time, I was also attending high school and began in 2013 my first paid job working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
As my family knows well, our lineage has been touched by the grief of death related to suicide, overdose, and domestic violence. Particularly the women of our family know grief and loss in ways that have been foundational, unjust, and deeply heartfelt. In 2015, I supported the bedside care of my dying step-grandfather, and great-uncle, at home. This was my beginning with engagement in full-spectrum community-based care work. And I am honored to have been a part of their support team along with my family. I went on working within assisted living and geriatric care for four and a half years before moving to Seattle, WA, and continuing here. Later, I began work within the Health Education Youth Outreach program at Lifelong, where our two-person team created curriculum, hosted events, and offered direct outreach, including HIV testing, resources, and referrals.
In 2019, six years after beginning work in end-of-life care, I completed my B.A. at Seattle University focusing on Theology and Religious Studies while successfully juggling my work in non-profit bookkeeping and home health care. For my bachelor's program, I chose a multi-faith, multi-cultural approach to studying religious scripture, which included rituals, laws, and practices. I leaned on my life experience and work as a sex educator & caretaker and studied in hopes of becoming a more holistic, prepared, and loving end-of-life care provider. In my degree program, I had the opportunity to learn of social movements, political history, rituals, and scripture from various traditions. I appreciate the educators who walked with me at a pace that worked for each moment and the friends who did care work for me by sharing resources, time, and love.
Before founding Sunflower Services, I have pursued additional training and mentorship to build my professional skills as a full-spectrum doula through a rigorous, personalized ongoing program where I trained with local community healers, advocates, and professionals. My learning will always be ongoing. Currently, it is my hope to uplift and co-create grassroots care education. I teach community death classes as an assistant teacher with A Sacred Passing: Death Midwifery & Education and am the Youth Ministry Director for Valley and Mountain, my church community. In addition, I am continuing my learning as a graduate student at the University of People, seeking my M.Ed. in Advanced Teaching with a specialization in K-12 Education. I chose my current degree program based on its financial accessibility and deeply intersectional education ideology.
While I have been blessed to work in settings that feel like a good fit for my interests, it has always been more than work-- my chosen and kindred family, elders, and community members are the foundation in which I have felt care, grown interrelated friendships and mutual aid networks. Thank you. I am committed to providing the support that is attentive to the unique needs and identities of each individual and the people around them. Many are subverting the interrelated systems that disproportionately harm all of us. I am so blessed to live on this earth with communities of people of color, people in poverty, LGBTQIA+ folks, and disabled people. People with magic, resilience, and Spirit in every bit of us. I will offer all I can until we are each cared for in our full autonomy, including every person who is targeted, slandered, or marginalized due to their physical or mental ability, body shape or size, choice in faith or religion, or immigration status. I support and value people. I care about our joy, safety, and agency. I know that our life journeys don't occur independently of social context, I want to make myself available to support in ways that my community asks me to be.
No matter our health or productivity we are unique, creative, and powerful.
HONORING THE SOIL
I have so many people to thank for supporting me as I am growing myself and growing Sunflower Services. Thank you, each of you, for encouraging that I following my heart, lean into where I need to grow more, and encouraging me to do healing work within myself always, always, always. There is more to my community and to myself than I will ever be able to capture in words. I am grateful to my family, especially to my younger brother for always sharing a love of dragons, fantasy worlds, plants, and animals. Thank you also to my little sister, I am so lucky to have you in my life. I extend this gratitude with love to each of my parents who were among the first in my life to demonstrate the power of grief.
To my Mama, thank you for teaching me to love so fully and gently-- and thank you also for teaching me to see magic in all that surrounds me, to be playful, and to trust my intuition. I am also incredibly humbled by the immemorial guidance of my maternal Grandmother, thank you for your stories. Thank you also for teaching me to search both in my surroundings and in myself for light, spirit, and an orientation toward survival. Thank you also, Grandma, for teaching me to dream.
In particular, thank you to each person who has challenged me to see beyond my own experience. Thank you to each person who has asked or demanded more of me, named my fuck-ups, and turned me toward my shadows. Thank you for the compassion of calling me into accountability.
I am so grateful to the many educators and community members who supported me in SkillsUSA (5:02min), Helena School District #1 & all of those with MT Upward Bound who work endlessly for first-generation and low-income students. Thank you for teaching me to value learning from my community and from history. Thank you also to the incredible friends and mentors I build relationships with at Seattle University, I am especially grateful for the support of the students and administrators of the disability services office.
To my forever soul mates, with you, more softness and magic are poured into this work. To the mentors and friends who guide me, and the entirety of my Dungeons and Dragons team (especially "the Ruckus"), and to all of the queer and trans loved ones, anarchists, therapists, and tattoo artists along the way, thank you!
To my beloved friend and companion, Xena the Bunny, thank you for sharing your life with me and for all that you taught me in our years together. May your memory be a blessing. I miss you every day.