AMY CUNNINGHAM is a New-York-City-based funeral director, death educator and celebrant with a passion for helping Brooklyn and Manhattan families arrange dignified, distinctive funeral and memorial services. She is the owner of a new funeral establishment called Fitting Tribute Funeral Services, which officially launched in January, 2016. In January 2015, Amy was listed as one of the “Nine Most Innovative Funeral Professionals” in the country by FuneralOne, a leading voice for change in the funeral industry. Amy was trained as a funeral celebrant by Glenda Stansbury and Doug Manning, completed all three levels of home vigil training with Jerrigrace Lyons, was exposed to Jewish Tahara ritual through a four-day workshop with Rabbi Regina Sandler-Phillips, and completed an end-of-life doula training with social worker Henry Fersko-Weiss at the Open Center where she is now on the faculty of the Integrative Thanatology certificate program. In her prior life, Amy majored in English Literature at the University of Virginia, and was a magazine writer and blogger with essays and articles published in More, Glamour, Redbook, McCall’s, and Washington Post magazine. For two years, she wrote a blog on healthy living, holistic spirituality, yoga and meditation for the award-winning website Beliefnet.com. She resumed her blogging not long after mortuary school and now sustains one blog for customers, and “The Inspired Funeral” for her friends and colleagues in the funeral trade. She lectures on funeral planning and the greening of the funeral business at the Park Slope Food Coop every six weeks. Married to journalist Steven Waldman for twenty-four years, she has one son who recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin and another at Emory studying psychology and neuroscience.
Tuesday, July 11, August 8, 6– 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.
Friday-Sunday, September 22-24, 2017, Amy will be among the presenters at the National Home Funeral Alliance biennial conference at the Pearlstone Center in Reisterstown, MD.
Friday-Monday, October 13-16, 2017, join Coleman Barks, Stephen Jenkinson, Megory Anderson, Alberto Villoldo, Ken Doka, Peter Fenwick, Olivia Bareham, Amy and a fleet of innovators in palliative and hospice care for the New York Open Center’s four-day-long “Art of Dying” Symposium, which considers the following topics: How can we work more compassionately and intelligently with the dying? How can our own death and the death of those we love be faced with courage and awareness? Does consciousness survive death and, if so what might we expect? How can we best prepare? How can death become much less frightening both for ourselves and our loved ones? The Association of Death Education and Counseling ® has deemed this program as counting towards the continuing education requirements for the ADEC Certification in Thanatology. Phone (212) 219-2527 ext. 135 to learn more and register for all or some of the great offerings.
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.
Creating the New Buddhist Funeral, a conversation with Julia Hirsch of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, June 2017.
Fears of Death Discussed Over Cookies, The Gothamist, February 2017.
Eight Things Funeral Directors Want You to Know, Gail Rubin, January 2017
“Death is the New Black,” a conversation with StoryKeep‘s Jamie Yuenger, September 2015.
“The Nine Most Innovative Funeral Professionals,” Funeral One Blog, January 2015.
Tips on Cultivating a Good Relationship with Your Funeral Director, Seven Ponds Blog, 2014.
Rewiring the Way We Look at Death, RewireMe.com, July 2014.
“The Rise of Back-to-Basics Funerals,” NYTimes Styles Section March 2014.
“On Point,” NPR’s Jessica Yellin interviews Amy, April 2014.
From Magazines to End-of-life Celebrations, May 2013.
“Entrepreneurs Find a Growing Business in Eco-Friendly Burials,” Inc. Magazine, April 2014.
“The Greenest Things to Do with Your Body After You Die,” Atlantic Monthly, December 2013.
Morphing from Journalist to Funeral Director, June 2012.
BlogTalk Radio guest appearance with Audrey Pellicano, September 2013.