• The New York Open Center Presents

    The Art of Dying

    April 24th - 26th, 2015
    New York City

    The Art of Dying V is a groundbreaking conference that brings together renowned thought-leaders, innovators, researchers and practitioners in the area of death and dying, including the professional fields of palliative and hospice care.

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The New York Open Center’s Art of Dying 5 Conference has now taken place. We want to personally thank all those who joined the over 300 participants attending this great event.

We really appreciate the way each participant became part of the Open Center community during the conference, and how everyone contributed in such a meaningful way to a very moving, informative and extraordinary event. If you are interested in recordings of the conference please contact our partner BetterListen!

The Art of Dying Institute

As mentioned in the opening speech, the Art of Dying 5 Conference is the beginning of a much broader vision at the Open Center. We seek to build and support an engaged community by offering a unique, soulful and holistic approach to death and dying. The Art of Dying Institute will offer courses, workshops, and advanced training programs and certification taught by renowned experts and practitioners; forums for community discussion and engagement; partnership opportunities; progressive research; published works; and distinctive leadership in the area of death and dying.How might you engage in such a community? How could the Art of Dying Institute be of service to you personally or professionally? Contact Michael Pankow at artofdying@opencenter.org or (212) 219-2527 ext 102 to share your thoughts and learn how you can get involved.

Certificate in The Art of Dying: Integrative Thanatology

We are pleased to announce our Certificate in The Art of Dying: Integrative Thanatology, which is suitable for those working in hospice, nursing homes and other health care settings. It is also appropriate for students as well as counselors, social workers, teachers, clergy, psychologists and others who simply want to broaden their understanding and work in the field of death and dying. For more information or to register visit Certificate in Integrative Thanatology.

The Open Center offers programs on spiritual inquiry and practice, psychology and self-development, holistic health, bodywork, movement and yoga, arts and creativity.  Please visit www.opencenter.org for more details.

Art of Dying 2015


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Eben Alexander, M.D.

Eben Alexander, M.D., was an academic neurosurgeon at Brigham Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Boston for many years, and taught at Harvard Medical School. He thought he knew how the brain and mind worked until a transcendental near-death experience during an inexplicable brain infection changed that completely. His book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, has spent two years on the New York Times best-seller list and has been published in 43 countries.

Leslie Blackhall, M.D.

Leslie Blackhall, M.D., is Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Humanities at the University of Virginia and Director of the Palliative Care Research Program. The mission of the Palliative Care service at the University of Virginia is to improve the quality of life for patients with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. The research program of this service is dedicated to clinical research projects which enhance the evidence base regarding management of symptoms commonly faced by cancer patients, such as pain, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, anxiety and depression.

Jeanne Denney

Jeanne Denney is a body psychotherapist, hospice worker and author of The Effects of Compassionate Presence on the Dying.  She has spent years at the bedside of non-communicative patients trying to learn their language.  She also works as an educator in many venues to help people turn fearlessly toward a life, which includes death.

Peter Fenwick, M.D.

Peter Fenwick, M.D., is a neuropsychiatrist known for his studies of end-of-life phenomena and epilepsy. A senior lecturer at King’s College, London, he is a consultant at the Institute of Psychiatry. The results of his research project in hospices in the UK and Holland into the experiences as reported by the dying and their caregivers around the time of death are included in The Art of Dying, co-authored with his wife Elizabeth.

Henry Fersko-Weiss, LCSW

Henry Fersko-Weiss, LCSW, the President of the International End of Life Doula Association (INEDLA) and has been conducting end-of-life doula trainings at the Open Center for the last seven years. He has worked in hospices, led many bereavement groups and brings the experience of his own losses and a history of using guided visualization, meditation and journaling. His work has been featured prominently in The New York Times. www.inelda.org

Kunchok Gyaltsen, DTM, MPH, Ph.D.

Kunchok Gyaltsen, DTM, MPH, Ph.D., is a doctor trained in the traditions of Tibetan medicine and Buddhism. He has spent 33 years as a monk, and has special expertise in clinical mind-body-spirit healing practices and public health. He is a professor at Tso-Ngon Tibetan Medical College and Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. www.aruramed.org

Gary Malkin

Gary Malkin is a composer, singer and producer with a longstanding interest in using music in the bereavement process. He is is co-creator of the acclaimed CD/book, Graceful Passages: A Companion for Living and Dying, which covers ways to help face life and death with greater thoughtfulness, acceptance, and compassion. He has also used music to assist the bonding between parents and newborns in the CD/book Safe in the Arms of Love

Thomas Moore, Ph.D.

Thomas Moore, Ph.D., is the author of Care of the Soul and 20 other books on soul and spirit. He has a doctorate in Religious Studies and has been a psychotherapist for over 30 years. He is the author of Care of the Soul in Medicine, a book that summarizes his 20 years as a lecturer and consultant for hospitals and medical centers.

Frank Ostaseski

Frank Ostaseski cofounded the Zen Hospice Project in 1987, the first Buddhist hospice in America. In 2004, he created the Metta Institute to provide education on mindful and compassionate end-of-life care. He has been a keynote speaker at Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic, and was honored by H.H. Dalai Lama for his years of compassionate service to the dying and their families.

Simcha Raphael Ph.D.

Simcha Raphael, Ph.D., is a transpersonal psychotherapist, spiritual director, and adjunct professor in the Religion Department of Temple University. He has worked as a resident psychologist in a funeral home, a bereavement counselor and a hospice chaplain. A rabbinic pastor, he is director of the Da’At Institute for Death Awareness, Advocacy and Training and author of Jewish Views of the Afterlifewww.daatinstitute.net.

Stephen Ross, M.D.

Stephen Ross, M.D., is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University, Principal Investigator of the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Project and Director of the NYU Psychedelic Research Group. He is also Director of the Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at Bellevue Hospital and Director of Addiction Psychiatry at NYU Tisch Hospital.

Therese Schroeder-Sheker

Therese Schroeder-Sheker is a harpist, singer, composer, educator, clinician and lay Benedictine. She founded the palliative medical modality of music-thanatology and has been featured in documentaries for many television stations, including ABC, NBC, and PBS. She has delivered medical and musical residencies at many American and European colleges, universities and medical schools, and has taught at The Catholic University of America, Duke University, and St. Thomas Theological Seminary. www.chaliceofrepose.org

Judith Kennedy Schwarz, RN, Ph.D.

Judith Kennedy Schwarz, RN, Ph.D., is a consultant and advocate in end-of-life care. She has had a 10-year association with Compassion & Choices, an organization that supports choice and improved care for the dying, where she has worked closely with terminally ill patients and their families. She writes extensively for palliative care journals and is a frequent lecturer on ethical and clinical issues related to end-of-life care.

Robert A.F. ‘Tenzin’ Thurman , Ph.D.

Robert A.F. “Tenzin” Thurman, Ph.D., is a recognized worldwide authority on mind science and spirituality, Tibetan Buddhism, and H. H. the Dalai Lama. Robert Thurman is an eloquent advocate of the relevance of Buddhist ideas and practices in our daily lives. An author and Columbia University professor, his many books include Inner Revolution, Why the Dalai Lama Matters and a translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Pim van Lommel, M.D.

Pim van Lommel, M.D., worked from 1977-2003 as a cardiologist in Hospital Rijnstate, an 800-bed teaching hospital in Arnhem, the Netherlands. He is the author of Consciousness Beyond Life, a best-seller in Holland that was nominated for the Book of the Year. In 2006, the president of India awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Congress on Clinical and Preventive Cardiology in New Dehli.

Michael Gruber, Ph.D.

Michael Gruber, Ph.D. is an existential analyst in private practice in New York City. Author of An Unknown Destiny, he engages in cultivating attention to how embodiment, language, silence, dreaming and not knowing create possibilities for transformations in soul consciousness.

Jeffrey Guss, MD

Dr. Guss is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine and a graduate of the NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.  He is a Co-PI in the NYU Cancer Anxiety Psilocybin study and Director of Psychedelic Therapy Training for the research.  He maintains a full-time private practice of psychiatry and psychotherapy in New York City.

Anthony P. Bossis, Ph.D

Anthony P. Bossis, Ph.D., is co-principal investigator and Director of Palliative Care Research for the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety Study. He is the co-founder and former Co-Director of the palliative care service at Bellevue Hospital. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine and has a private practice in NYC.

Art of Dying 2015


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Friday, April 24th

ALL DAY SEMINAR (10:00AM – 5:00PM) | You can SELECT ONE of these events to attend.

Faith, Hope and Love: Alternative Ways to Know About Life and Death with Thomas Moore, Ph.D

People say that human beings don’t have the privilege of knowing what happens at and after the point of death. But the truth is, we don’t really know anything fully. We gather facts and draw our conclusions, but we know very little. In this situation, we need other responses besides knowledge. We need faith in life, hope that the whole thing makes sense and love of the world rather than merely an understanding of it. Compared to our usual trust in research and knowledge, these are alternative ways to be, and they operate under the power of love. The whole secret to dying is to love life and trust it.

Working with the Dying: Doula Tools and Techniques with Henry Fersko-Weiss, LCSW

For the past 10 years, the End-of-Life (EOL) Doula Program has brought a new approach to working with the dying. The focus of the doula work is to return a sense of the sacred to the dying process while guiding and companioning the dying person and their loved ones through the final days. This all-day institute will use experiential exercises and practice sessions to teach some of the most useful tools being used by EOL doulas. One such tool, visualization, can help the dying with pain, agitation and restlessness, or moving more deeply into the space of spirit and letting go. Visualization techniques also help the doulas at the bedside to open their hearts to what is needed in the moment. Other tools we will explore include active presence, legacy work and rituals. These tools will be of great value to professionals working in the field as well as to individuals who want to use this approach with family and friends as they approach the end of life.


Friday, April 24th

7:30PM: Welcome

7:40PM – 8:35PM: Discovering “The Undiscovered Country:” How Facing Death Brings Life with Robert Thurman, Ph.D.

So Shakespeare called the realm that one might enter after death. And he rightly described the dilemma of persons worried about its possibility and nature. Does it exist? What is it like? How to traverse it to a good end? The Indian Buddhist “inner scientists” and their Tibetan successors claimed to have investigated this country very thoroughly. Upon return they gave us the Book of Natural Liberation Through Learning of the Between and many other yogas for dealing with death successfully. How might their description affect us in the confrontation with death, our own or those of others, and give us intensified positive energy in life.

8:35PM  – 9:30PM: A Taste for the Eternal, Preparing for Death through Experience of the Timeless with Thomas Moore, Ph.D.

From the minute we are born we are drifting toward death—the entrance and the exit. In between are times of entering further into life and leaving it. If we only value and pursue the direction of life, we will only half live and not be ready for death. We get close to the timeless through profound works of art, deep meditations, strong loves, absorption in nature, and above all, losing ourselves in sublime music. We have to become acquainted with the timeless not to be entirely surprised by death. Some sort of spiritual experience and vision are necessary. Another way is loss of ego: feelings of inferiority, not understanding, not being in control. This session will work out a strategy for joyfully befriending death.

Saturday, April 25th

9:00AM – 9:45AM: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife with Eben Alexander, M.D.

Dr. Eben Alexander has been an academic neurosurgeon for over 25 years. In 2008, his remarkable near-death experience radically transformed his understanding of consciousness and the brain, indeed, of all existence. There is more to life, and to the universe, than this single earthly life. Dr. Alexander’s message is about bringing unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness into daily life to work toward a deeper understanding of the transition from life to death and beyond.

9:45AM – 10:30AM: Returning Sacredness to the Dying Process with Henry Fersko-Weiss, LCSW

At one time in all cultures the dying process was seen as a sacred event, alive with meaningful rituals and a connection to a transpersonal reality. Our western industrialized society has submerged that sense of the sacred beneath a heavy techno-medical layer of chemical treatments, statistical measurements and probabilities. But the sacred is beginning to seep through again with a renewed openness to the spiritual dimension of life. The End-of-Life Doula work begun 10 years ago is devoted to returning sacredness to the dying process. Henry Fersko-Weiss will talk about the various ways the doula work focuses on the sacred and a look at how it is transforming the final days of life.

MORNING WORKSHOPS (11:00AM – 1:00PM) | You can SELECT ONE of these events to attend.

Mapping the Journey: Re-Envisioning Decisions About Care at the End of Life with Leslie Blackhall M.D.

Talking to patients and to each other about the end of life is complex and fraught with misunderstanding. Traditionally, decisions about end-of-life care have been framed as choices: between “comfort” and life prolongation, between fighting and surrendering, between doing everything and giving up, between living and dying. In an era where more than 70 percent of adults will die of chronic progressive illnesses, these dichotomous choices are often an inaccurate and even harmful way to think about medical care. In this workshop we will look at a new map for understanding the end of life as a trajectory and a developmental stage and consider how this might change the ways we care for those with incurable illnesses.

The Art of Dying and the Art of Living with Robert A.F. “Tenzin” Thurman, Ph.D.

In this workshop we will study together the Book of Natural Liberation (often known as the Tibetan Book of the Dead) in detail, with a focus on learning practical exercises to bring the awareness of death, and the after-death in-between realm, into our lives, to enhance our living in a new context. We will meditate together, as well as learn and discuss.

Death and the Afterlife Journey in Kabbalah, Practical Guidelines for Hospice and Bereavement Work with Simcha Raphael, Ph.D.

In mystical Judaism there is a rich tapestry of teachings on dying and the afterlife journey of the soul. We will explore little-known teachings on post-mortem consciousness found in the Zohar, a central text of Kabbalistic tradition, and discover practical applications of afterlife teachings in contemporary work with the dying and bereaved.

Alchemical Wisdom: A NeuroImaginal™ Listening Practice to Support the End-of-Life Process with Gary Malkin

“Direct contact with the precariousness of life helps us to feel and appreciate the preciousness of life.” Frank Ostaseski

Research has shown that of all our senses, hearing is the first to arrive in utero and the last to go before we take our last breath. This suggests a core relationship to our listening, one that can serve as a bridge to our essential nature and the unseen worlds. Spoken word, when delivered authentically, is an expression of our unique innate wisdom, deeply nourishing to the human spirit. When music is added intentionally, the amalgam morphs into a consciousness delivery system that can stimulate greater depth, meaning and connection, offering subtle yet profoundly healing shifts in awareness. This modality enhances our ability to listen with the heart rather than just the ears during life’s many transitions.

1:00PM – 2:00PM: Lunch

2:30PM – 3:20PM: The Chalice of Repose Project comprises four decades of work in contemplative musicianship and music-thanatology with Therese Schroeder-Sheker

Drawing upon clinical and spiritual work at the bedside of the dying in addition to her work as an educator, Therese Schroeder-Sheker speaks of music-thanatology praxis as a single continuum, core to the human-making curriculum. Through music and narrative, harp and lyric, case study and evidence, music-thanatology enables dying individuals, their care-givers and loved ones to be heard in a new light.

3:20PM – 4:15PM: Nonlocal Consciousness, a Concept Based on Scientific Study of Near Death Experience with Pim van Lommel M.D.

According to our current medical concepts, it is not possible to experience consciousness during a cardiac arrest, when circulation and breathing have ceased. But patients may report the occurrence of enhanced consciousness with cognitive functions, emotions, self-identity and memories from early childhood. We will discuss a Dutch study of 344 survivors of cardiac arrest published in The Lancet, and a second study of 562 survivors in which between 11 percent and 18 percent reported a near-death experience (NDE). How then is consciousness related to the integrity of brain function? Dr. van Lommel argues that the phenomenon of the NDE can no longer be scientifically ignored and that most likely the brain facilitates but does not produce consciousness.

AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS (4:30PM – 6:30PM) | You can SELECT ONE of these events to attend.

Death and Dying in Tibetan Medicine and Buddhism with Kunchok Gyaltsen, DTM, Ph.D.

Both traditional Tibetan medicine and Buddhism recognize death as part of the natural lifecycle rather than something suddenly confronted in a state of despair. This workshop covers the core Tibetan concepts of how to understand the nature of death and dying, and examines both the distant and imminent signs of death based on traditional Tibetan medicine and on Buddhist scholarly viewpoints. We will consider the stages of dying of the physical body, and of the “mind/body” as it enters the intermediate bar-do stage as a preparation for rebirth.

How Do We Want to Die? with Peter Fenwick, M.D

This workshop will be a space where conference participants can tell their own stories about end-of-life experiences, discuss what they have learned from them and help others to construct a map of those features, which it is important to acknowledge and prepare for before death.

Transcendent States of Conscious Awareness with Eben Alexander, M.D.

As an academic neurosurgeon for over 20 years, Eben Alexander thought he had some understanding of brain, mind and consciousness. In 2008, this all changed. In this workshop, he will lead a discussion of what families and medical professionals should know about treating and interacting with patients in the liminal state between life and death and between consciousness and unconsciousness, and what we can learn from spiritually transformative experiences (STEs).

Death As Metamorphosis of Life: Anthroposophical Soul Work with Michael Gruber, Ph.D.

This workshop will approach the Art of Dying from the perspective of anthroposophy, the path of spiritual knowledge taught by Rudolf Steiner. We begin with his understanding that we are only separated from the dead because we are unable to perceive, with ordinary consciousness, how their presence plays into our feeling and willing. We will explore how soul work can develop consciousness awareness of our community with the souls of the dead and the soul of the earth. There will also be some exploration of Steiner’s research on the soul’s journey between death and a new life.


Graceful Passages: Facing Our Mortality and Cultivating Gratefulness with Gary Malkin and Friends

“Direct contact with the precariousness of life helps us to feel and appreciate the preciousness of life.” Frank Ostaseski

Something about the ephemeral power of music allows us to enter into territories that we normally avoid, and thousands of people can attest to the benefits of using Graceful Passages as a tool that can assist entry into this terrain. This evening’s words and music help us reflect on the impermanence of life in an aesthetic and inspiring way, leading to deep realizations about what is unfinished, who do we have unfinished business with, and what matters most. Ironically, the most profound experience at this event is one of radical gratitude for life’s simple gifts, and a resolve to live each day with a constant remembrance of how precious life is.

Sunday, April 26th

9:00AM – 9:40AM: Suffering and Choice at the End of Life with Judith Kennedy Schwartz, R.N., Ph.D.

Sometimes, despite the best of palliative or hospice care, suffering cannot be relieved in a manner acceptable to the patient. Some of those suffering patients will turn to their caregivers for advice about how to escape an intolerable dying process that is taking too long. Voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) has long been recognized as a “palliative option of last resort” that permits patients to hasten their dying. Some hospices have developed procedures and guidelines regarding VSED to help clinical staff respond in a consistent and coherent fashion.

9:40AM – 10:20AM: End-of-Life Experiences and Their Contribution to our Understanding of Consciousness with Peter Fenwick, M.D.

End-of-life experiences – the mental states of the dying – are at last becoming recognized as central to our understanding of death and its significance for life.  There is a process in dying which may involve premonitions, deathbed visions, glimpses of a new, luminous realm with spiritual value and the scientific conundrum of terminal lucidity, with the well-witnessed data that those with dementia may show a clear mental state and family recognition just before they die.

10:20AM – 11:00AM: The NYU Psilocybin Project with Stephen Ross, M.D.

In this session, professor of psychiatry, director of several addiction divisions at Bellevue and NYU, Director of NYU’s Psychedelic Research Group, and Principal Investigator of the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Project, Stephen Ross, will examine in more depth the results of his team’s double-blind/placebo-controlled trials examining the potential efficacy of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in individuals with advanced/terminal cancer and psychological/spiritual distress. He will especially focus on how the intensity of the psilocybin induced mystical state positively correlated with improvements in the patients’ mental states and what the implications of this research might be.

MORNING WORKSHOPS (11:30AM – 1:30PM) | You can SELECT ONE of these events to attend.

What Do You Mean, “Dying”? with Leslie Blackhall M.D.

All humans are mortal, and in that sense being born is the first step toward dying. Yet we all are living up until the very moment of death. What then does it mean to say that someone is “terminally ill” or “dying”? How do we hold these two states in equipoise, honoring both our vital spirit and our impermanence? This workshop will deeply explore the felt meaning of those words and examine the twin traps of hope and fear that grip us when we face life-limiting illnesses.

The Chalice of Earth and Stars: Contemplative Musicianship as Transformative Grail Path with Therese Schroeder-Sheker

Music-thanatology entails a transformative path encountered at the intersection of three powerful meeting points: the arts and sciences of prescriptive music, palliative medical end-of-life care and spirituality. The Chalice of Repose Project’s music-thanatology is a palliative medical modality with decades of impressive clinical outcomes, registered practitioners and scholarly publications. Sensitive to Cluniac monastic medicine, we explore the path of music as a Grail process, and suggest that the contemplative practice need not be limited to the intensive care unit or one’s scheduled work hours. Instead we consider how and why the vigil work can extend far beyond the hour of the individual’s transitus.

Engagement with Death and Dying with Kunchok Gyaltsen, DTM, Ph.D.

Death is certain, but the time of death is uncertain. Mindfulness of death is one of the main teachings of traditional Tibetan medicine and the Buddhist point of view. We will cover methods of cultivating mindfulness surrounding death and discuss ways to practice contemplation in preparation for a good death as suggested by Tibetan medicine. This is of great value both for the person who is preparing to die and for the caregivers assisting the dying.

The Effects of Compassionate Presence: Being with Non-Communicative Patients at End of Life with Jeanne Denney

Most people experience a nonverbal, coma-like state before death, yet all too often medical workers, even hospice workers and family, withdraw attentive presence when a patient enters silence.  Perhaps we wonder if they know we are there.  Perhaps we are uncomfortable. In this workshop we will discuss what work and research with the non-communicative has taught us about their needs.  How can we be both fearless and sensitive in service to the dying? Together we will practice “finding” this state within ourselves and being present with another as we explore the jewels within the silence.

Psychedelic Therapy and Death Anxiety with Stephen Ross, M.D.

In this session, professor of psychiatry, director of several addiction divisions at Bellevue and NYU, Director of NYU’s Psychedelic Research Group and Principal Investigator of the NYU Psilocybin Cancer Project, Stephen Ross, will examine in more depth the results of his team’s double-blind/placebo-controlled trials examining the potential efficacy of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy in individuals with advanced/terminal cancer and psychological/spiritual distress. He will especially focus on how the intensity of the psilocybin-induced mystical state positively correlated with improvements in the patients’ mental states and what the implications of this research might be.

PANEL (2:45PM – 4:15PM) | You can SELECT ONE of these events to attend.

Near-Death and End-of-Life Experiences with Eben Alexander, M.D., Pim van Lommel, M.D., and Peter Fenwick, M.D.

What does the latest research on near-death and end-of-life experiences have to tell us about the nature of the human condition? How do these experiences change the way those who have them live the remainder of their lives? These are just some of the many interesting and profound questions that this panel of physicians will attempt to answer by bringing together years of research, as well as personal, experience with near death experiences.

The Future of End-of-Life Care with Leslie Blackhall, M.D., Simcha Raphael, Ph.D., Therese Schroeder-Sheker

What is the future of end of life care? Where is it going, where does it need to go, and how can we bring greater sensitivity and awareness to the many crucial issues that we must all face around dying? These are questions that our society is raising in increasing abundance as our culture awakens to the crisis surrounding end of life care and our collective need to address the process with openness and wisdom.


Closing Ritual with Ralph White


Monday, April 27th

ALL DAY SEMINAR (10:00AM – 5:00PM) | You can SELECT ONE of these events to attend.

Examining the Significance of End-of-Life Experiences for Living and Dying with Peter Fenwick, M.D.

This full-day institute will address the wider questions associated with end-of-life experiences. Research shows that at the moment of death, light may surround the body and shapes may be seen leaving it, and the dying person may make a link with someone emotionally close to them, to whom they may give a comforting message.  Such experiences are comforting for both the dying and their families. What is their broader significance regarding the place of death in our society? We will examine the importance of “uncovering” death again so that it is no longer a taboo subject. How do we treat the dying in our culture?  How does our knowledge of end-of-life experiences impact issues such as euthanasia or terminal sedation?

Death, Bereavement and Spirituality: Walking the Mourner’s Path with Simcha Raphael, Ph.D.

There is a growing recognition among professionals working with the dying and bereaved that one is more adequately prepared for this task by investigating personal reactions and responses to death and dying. There are high levels of stress affecting caregivers dealing with death and grief as well as having to wrestle with personal losses, leaving one more open to caring for others. This workshop is an opportunity for those working with hospice, with the elderly and with death issues in their own families. It will focus on the emotional, psychological and spiritual reactions that emerge in the human encounter with death. We will explore personal grief history, cultural and familial attitudes toward death and grief, as well as the ways in which our own life experience enhances or hinders our capacity to open our hearts to the dying and bereaved. In the final analysis, we will look at death as a teacher that gives one the opportunity for psychological and spiritual development. Both those walking the mourner’s path and people working with the dying and bereaved are welcome.

Art of Dying 2015


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Conference Details

General Information

Hotel Accommodations and Locations

The conference will be held at the New Yorker Hotel, 481 Eighth Avenue (at 34th Street) with the exception of the Friday evening plenary session. The Friday evening session will be held at the Hotel Pennsylvania, 401 Seventh Avenue (at 33rd Street). Attendees of the conference are offered a reduced rate of $229 for single rooms and $249 for double rooms. Hotel reservations must be made directly with the New Yorker Hotel no later than Friday, March 27th, through the conference link, or by calling (800) 764-4680. Please identify yourself as a conference participant when making your reservation in order to receive the reduced room rate. The email address for reservations is reservations@nyhotel.com.

Pre- and Post-Seminars & Pre-Conference Weekend

All pre- and post-conference events, including the March 21st & 22nd pre-conference weekend, will be held at the New York Open Center, at 22 East 30th Street in Manhattan. The pre- and post-conference seminars are available to conference participants for an additional $150 each. You can register for them while registering for the full conference by clicking here. To register for Frank Ostaseski’s Wise Relationship in Accompanying the Dying, please do so directly through the New York Open Center website.

Conference Workshop Preferences

Conference participants must indicate their workshop and panel preferences when registering online, by phone or by mail. Spaces will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

Contact Hours for Nurses

ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission of Accreditation.

Contact hours for this conference are provided by ALLEGRA Learning Solutions, LLC and jointly provided by The New York Open Center. This joint-partnership allows all conference attendees the opportunity to attain up to 25 contact hours depending on their choice of workshops and plenaries. If you are a nurse, and have any further questions about what workshops and plenaries are eligible for contact hours, please call 212.219.2527 or send an email to artofdying@opencenter.org.

Note: the only events that do not qualify for contact hours are the two Sunday panels, as well as Robert Thurman’s Saturday Morning Workshop. Processing fees may apply.*

ADEC Certification in Thanatology

The Association of Death Education and Counseling® has deemed this program as counting towards the continuing education requirements for the ADEC Certification in Thanatology. For further information about the Certification in Thanatology please email info@adec.org or call 847-509-0403. The Open Center will furnish the appropriate Certificate of Attendance if requested by you, for a $15 fee.


A complementary lunch will be provided on Saturday where conference participants will have the opportunity to network and meet with some of our renowned speakers. We encourage all participants to attend.

Early Bird Rate

We are offering an Early Bird rate of $545 for those who register on or before February 28th. Anyone registering between March 1st and April 23rd will receive the General Admission rate of $595.

Special Rate for Professionals Working with the Dying or Bereaved

We are offering a special discounted rate for professionals working with the dying or bereaved, including hospice workers, nurses, social workers and palliative physicians. Hospice volunteers are also eligible for this discount. These special discounts are as follows:

$465 – Early Bird Price (deadline Feb 28th 2015)
$520 – General Admission (deadline April 23rd 2015)

Please note that following registration, you will be required to forward proof of employment to registration@opencenter.org, with a copy of a document that shows your professional involvement in the palliative field.


Please call the New Yorker Hotel if you require specific aids or services.

Scholarships & Work Study

A limited number of scholarships are available to those in financial need. Please contact scholarships@opencenter.org, to request a scholarship application form. There are also work-study positions available. To inquire about work-study, please contact registration@opencenter.org.

Cancellation Policy

In order to obtain a refund, it is necessary to cancel your registration in writing. Your message must be received no later than April 3, 2015. A $65 processing fee will apply to all cancellations, which must be made in writing. Please e-mail registration@opencenter.org.


Please contact the Open Center for further information, including information for practitioners on how to obtain a certificate of attendance for the conference, as well as any inquires regarding recordings of the events.

New York Open Center, 22 E. 30th Street, NY, NY 10016 at Tel. 212.219.2527 or send an email to artofdying@opencenter.org.


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