meet NYC funeral DIRECTOR Amy cunningham

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Amy Cunningham is a licensed funeral director who collaborates with families to help them create distinctive funerals and memorial services. 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 funeral trade, addressed to support funeral directors, funeral celebrants, home funeral guides, and bereavement therapists working to enrich end-of-life experiences. Amy lectures on funeral planning and the greening of the funeral business at the Park Slope Food Coop every six weeks. She has been married to journalist Steven Waldman for twenty-four years. One son just graduated 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.

Thursday-Friday, February 23-24, Come to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to hear funeral director/Death Positivist Caitlin Doughty, Lee Webster, president of National Home Funeral Alliance and member of Board of Directors of the Green Burial Council, Josh Slocum of the National Funeral Consumer’s Alliance, Jeff Rowes, Senior Attorney at Institute for Justice, funeral law authority Tanya Marsh, Amy and others at The Wake Forest Journal of Law and Policy’s symposium, “Disrupting the Death Care Paradigm: Challenges to the Regulation of the Funeral Industry and the American Way of Death,” Wake Forest Law School, Worrell Professional Center, Room 1312, Winston-Salem, NC.

Tuesday, March 7, April 4, 6PM – 8PM, Death Cafe, Green-Wood Cemetery's crematory chapel, 500 25th Street, Brooklyn, 11232. 718-768-7300. Green-Wood Cemetery now hosts monthly Death Cafes facilitated by Amy. Over coffee and sweet treats, each meeting invites strangers to share with one another their thoughts, feelings, and outlook on death. Each gathering offer the opportunity for safe and open exchanges without an agenda. It is a discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session. Started in 2011, Death Cafés were the brainchild of Jon Underwood and have quickly spread to over 40 countries. Underwood’s intention was to allow those gathered the opportunity to “increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives'.

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.