Everything You Need at Maui’s Death Store

EBF Executive Director Deborah Jacobs with Reverend Bodhi and Amanda Standlee

EBF Executive Director Deborah Jacobs with Reverend Bodhi and Amanda Standlee

Maui. Beaches, palm trees, sunshine, and of course, death.

In 2012, Rev. Bodhi Be founded what has become the now infamous “Death Store” in Haiku, Maui. Responding to a strong demand for resources around death and dying in his community, interfaith minister Bodhi Be has led monthly conversations with the community about all things mortal for over nine years. Through that work, he recognized the need for a physical location to provide death-related products, resources and information, as well as a gathering space. The Death Store serves a one-stop shop for all your end of life needs, complete with a lending library of death related books and how-to information on things like wills and home funerals. The Death Store sells coffins, urns, incense, and jewelry, but its main product is green funeral services, including burials at sea.

Amanda Standllee is one of the Death Store’s key employees and frequently helps people organize their own community to support a dying person at home. Whether that means coordinating food for grieving families or being a physical presence with the dying person in hospice, Amanda finds promoting the conversation around death and providing help for the dying people to be extremely rewarding.

“Having the store makes it more real” Standlee says, “death is a hard conversation for our community. [The Death Store] keeps us visible to people, provides a tremendous resource – we can support all along the process.”

She also speaks to the tension of death and dying amidst a culture dominated by death-denying tourists. “In Maui, which is vacation-land, [the denial of death] is a huge mindset, part of the mentality…. to bridge that gap can be a challenge.”

Rev. Bodhi Be’s nonprofit Doorway Into Light provides many services related to death and dying for the community; the physical store is but one extension of his larger mission to engage the community “in advocacy and educational programs on Death and Dying.” Doorway Into Light’s next steps are to help first create and then utilize natural burial grounds as the economic engine to protect, restore, and reforest lands in Hawaii.

For the many of us wary of the negative effects of our rampant denial of death, The Death Store is a great example of an individual’s contribution to opening the conversation and engagement with our mortality. As Amanda pointed out, “If you’re going to offer a critique you have to offer a solution.”

Death Store - Bumper Sticker