Amy Cunningham is a progressive funeral home owner, licensed director and celebrant 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, cremation services at Green-Wood Cemetery's gorgeous crematory chapels as well as memorial events of all sorts.
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. In February 2018, Women's Health magazine gave Amy the unique moniker "Death Ritual Disrupter," in a piece about how daily death contemplation and awareness can enrich our lives and keep us healthier.
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 NY Open Center where she is now also on the faculty of the Integrative Thanatology death education counselor program.
When not out directing funerals, Amy writes a blog with funeral celebrant Kateyanne Unullisi called "The Inspired Funeral" for consumers, clergy, home funeral guides, celebrants and bereavement therapists working to enrich end-of-life experiences. She has been married to journalist Steven Waldman for twenty-seven years. One son is a Wisconsin campus organizer for NextGen America; the other just graduated from Emory with a major in psychology and honors in philosophy.
“The Talk of the Town” piece on Amy’s condolence letter writing workshop, The New Yorker, January 2019.
How People Choose Their Final Outfit, VICE, December 2018.
The Art of Writing a Condolence Letter, MemoryWell, November 2018.
The Death Positive Movement Comes to Life, NYTimes, June 2018.
Want to Plan for Your Death and Funeral? Here's How by Christine Colby for The NYTimes.com, February 2018.
The New Buddhist Funeral: A conversation with Julia Hirsch of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, June 2017.
19 Things Funeral Directors Want You to Know, Buzzfeed, May 2017.
"We've Mastered Weddings, but the Funeral Needs a Lot of Work," Quartz, April 2017.
A Friendly Place to Talk about the End, Village Voice, March 2017.
Discuss Your Fears While Eating Cookies, by Eliza Relman, The Gothamist, February 2017.
Eight Things Funeral Directors Want You to Know, by Gail Rubin, January 2017.
Start-ups Take Rites from the Funeral Home to the Family Home, NYTimes business section, January 2016.
Why Millenials Want Greener Funerals, Refinery 29, October 2016.
Amy's Funeral Etiquette Do's and Don'ts via Mental_Floss, January 2016
Amy gave a speech on funeral home regulation at Wake Forest University's School of Law in 2017 in which she outlined needed changes in funeral training and practice. Read it here on the blog of Wake Forest's Journal of Law & Policy.
* On Reviving Old Funeral Customs and Driving That Hearse: Jamie Yuenger interviews Amy about old and new approaches for StoryKeep, September 2015.
* “The Nine Most Innovative Funeral Professionals,” Funeral One Blog, January 2015.
“The Rise of Back-to-Basics Funerals,” NYTimes Styles Section March 2014.
Tips on Cultivating a Good Relationship with Your Funeral Director, Seven Ponds Blog, October, 2014Rewiring the Way We Look at Death, RewireMe.com, July 2014.
“On Point,” NPR’s Jessica Yellin interviews Amy, April 2014.
From Magazines to End-of-life Celebrations, May 2013.
“The Greenest Things to Do with Your Body After You Die,” Atlantic Monthly, December 2013.