saturday and sunday APRIL 27-28, 2019, 9:30-5:30

“Last Breath: Care of the Body after Death,” with Amy’s teacher, renowned Los Angeles death midwife Olivia Bareham. This workshop demonstrates the role of the death midwife from the final breath, through the 3-day home vigil and funeral until final disposition.   It is part of the New York Open Center’s fabulous “Integrative Thanatology” certificate program and open to professional and non-professional end-of-life caregivers or anyone wishing to care for their loved-one naturally, at home, according to personal, religious and cultural traditions.

Topics explored include:

  • Unexpected death – holding space in the ER

  • Home funerals – benefits, legalities and logistics

  • The death midwife kit

  • Care of the body (bathing, dressing, anointing)

  • Caskets and Shrouds

  • Laying the body in-honor

  • Buddhist after-death traditions

  • The death-care directive – your plan for funeral and final disposition

  • Self-care for caregivers – preventing burnout

Films, meditations, written exercises, demonstrations and hands-on practice support the information shared. $425 (Open Center members & nonmembers) Early bird rate $395 by March 15. The New York Open Center, 22 E. 3oth Street, New York, NY. 212-219-2527, registration@opencenter.org

TUESDAY, MaY 14, 2019 6:30 PM-8 PM

Amy hosts the Death Cafe at Green-Wood Cemetery. Inspired by the centuries-old European salon, a Death Cafe is an informal gathering where people come to discuss philosophical, personal, or scientific ideas about death. British founder Jon Underwood believed that this kind of gathering would help people make the most of their finite lives, and it seems to work.  Today, there are over 4,400 Death Cafes in 26 countries around the world. The fact that you're discussing death with fellow wayfaring strangers creates an unusual and pleasant intimacy. Water and light snacks are provided. “A place for people to discuss our inevitable fate.” —Gothamist

SATURDAY MAY 18, 2019, 9:30-5:30

Join Amy in an all-day workshop called “The Inspired Funeral” at the New York Open Center on what is both traditional and newly possible in today’s end-of-life rituals. We’ll spend the morning talking about how to plan a reasonably-priced, back-to-basics funeral or memorial service as Amy offers timely, helpful information on the green burial movement, green cemeteries near New York City, new thinking on the burial shroud, cremation pros and cons, biodegradable caskets, blended-faith/alternative ceremonies, and more. After questions and small group interaction, we’ll head to Brooklyn for a complete tour of Green-Wood Cemetery’s crematory that includes the family witnessing area and faces of the retorts. Register here before April 12, $190.

Saturday, July 27, 2019 3:30 PM

An Affectionate History of Burial Garments, Green-Wood Cemetery’s crematory chapel. The rule of simplicity that works so well in life also works great after death. Many families are now opting for burial shrouds instead of caskets to bury loved ones, asserting greater creative control over the aesthetics of the traditional American funeral. Join death educator Amy Cunningham for an engaging discussion of how shrouds and garments have been used for over a millennia in cultures across the globe. She’ll also explore present-day, eco-friendly shroud making, including the work of several clever designers who hope we’ll start taking our final outfits as seriously as we select what we don every day.

“Those of you who are worn out and crushed by this mourning, let your hearts consider this:
This is the path that has existed from the time of creation and will exist forever, many have drunk from it and many will yet drink. As was the first meal, so shall be the last. May the master of comfort comfort you. Blessed are those who comfort the mourners.”

—Jewish blessing

Highlighted memories

Speaking about funeral planning and new ways to memorialize at DOROT, November 2018.

Speaking about funeral planning and new ways to memorialize at DOROT, November 2018.

Amy shows a felted wool shroud from Bellacouche.com at her greener funeral talk, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, October 4, 2017.

Amy shows a felted wool shroud from Bellacouche.com at her greener funeral talk, Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, October 4, 2017.

Amy at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Trade show, October 2016.

Amy at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Trade show, October 2016.

Speaking to the Chevra Kadisha, Jewish burial society of B’nai Jeshurun, Manhattan’s upper west side, March 2019.

Speaking to the Chevra Kadisha, Jewish burial society of B’nai Jeshurun, Manhattan’s upper west side, March 2019.

Maple Street, Brooklyn, New York, March 2018

Maple Street, Brooklyn, New York, March 2018