meet NYC funeral DIRECTOR Amy cunningham

Photo for Tricycle.org by Bess Adler.

Photo for Tricycle.org by Bess Adler.

Amy Cunningham is a licensed funeral director who collaborates with New York City families to help them create the best funerals and memorial services possible. She specializes in green burials in cemeteries certified by the Green Burial Council, simple burials within the NYC- Metropolitan area, home funerals, and cremation services at Green-Wood Cemetery's gorgeous crematory chapels.  Filled with kind advice on how to make funerals more affordable and sustainable, Amy was profiled by the New York Times, March 2014, and named one of nine top funeral innovators by FuneralOne, a leading voice for change in the funeral industry. Fortified by her mortuary training from the American Academy McAllister Institute, and a BA in English Literature from the University of Virginia, Amy was trained as a funeral celebrant by Glenda Stansbury and Doug Manning, certified as a home funeral guide by Jerrigrace Lyons and Olivia Bareham, and exposed to Jewish Tahara ritual through the teachings of Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips. She then took end-of-life doula training with Henry Fersko-Weiss (twice!) at the Open Center where she is now also on the faculty of the Integrative Thanatology death education counselor program.  When not out directing funerals today, she sustains a blog on this site called "Creative Ways to Approach the Inevitable" tailored to the needs of funeral consumers. Amy also writes a blog called "The Inspired Funeral" for the consumers, clergy, home funeral guides, celebrants and bereavement therapists working to plan or help orchestrate enriched end-of-life experiences. She has been married to journalist Steven Waldman for twenty-four years. One son just graduated from the University of Wisconsin and the other is at Emory studying psychology and neuroscience.

 

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS AND CONVERSATIONS

Amy at Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce trade show, October 5, 2016.

Amy at Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce trade show, October 5, 2016.

Saturday, October 21, 5-6:30 p.m., Day of Remembrance at Green-Wood Cemetery. Please join us at the front gates for an opportunity to decorate memorial lanterns then process to the lake for statements from Amy and three members of clergy to process recent deaths in our families and honor those missed. We'll set our lanterns on the lake as the sun begins to set. Music, light refreshment provided. 500 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232.

Wednesday, November 8, 6:30 p.m. Join Amy for a group reading of Victorian letters of condolence at Merchant's House Museum, 29 East 4th Street, New York 10003.

Tuesday, November 14, 6:30-8 p.m., Death Cafe, Green-Wood Cemetery's crematory chapel, 500 25th Street, Brooklyn, 11232. 718-768-7300. Green-Wood Cemetery now hosts monthly Death Cafes. Join us for coffee and sweet treats, as fellow wayfaring strangers share their thoughts, feelings, and outlook on dying and death. Each meeting offers the opportunity for safe and open exchange without an agenda. This is surprisingly enjoyable, believe it or not. All are welcomed.

NEW! Tuesdays, January 17, 24, 31 and February 7, 2018: Amy teaches "Funeral Planning as Spiritual Practice," One Spirit Learning Alliance, 247 W 36th St 6th Floor, New York, NY 10018, (212) 931-6840. Spiritual traditions all over the world agree that death awareness makes life more meaningful. Sadly, we live in a death phobic society, and people who postpone funeral discussions are then confronted with decisions involving thousands of dollars as they hold Kleenex in their hands. Join journalist/NY licensed funeral director and celebrant Amy Cunningham in an eye-opening, four-week-long exploration of the fascinating trends within and without the $14 billion funeral business. To help us solidify our own final wishes, we'll watch relevant films and learn through Powerpoint presentations, group exercises, individual funeral stories, and conversation. Among the many topics we'll survey: basic funeral customs in Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, the history of cremation and burial (did you know that the rejection of Pagan custom in the final years of the Roman Empire lead to a Judeo-Christian tradition of burial that lasted 1500 years?) and how to make a cremation service more meaningful; we'll discuss the comeback of the home funeral (keeping the dead cool in the house for days or hours helps some people adjust to the new reality); the resurgence of shrouding, the rise of the green burial movement, and advocacy work now occurring to give families greater control over the care of their dead.

Amy speaking to the the Capital District Humanist Society in Albany, June 2014.

Amy speaking to the the Capital District Humanist Society in Albany, June 2014.

Amy discussing end-of-life anxieties and wishes on National Geographic's "Explorer" show with Larry Wilmore, Richard Bacon, and Chuck Klosterman, November 2016.

Amy discussing end-of-life anxieties and wishes on National Geographic's "Explorer" show with Larry Wilmore, Richard Bacon, and Chuck Klosterman, November 2016.