Today more than ever there is a clear call to understand and work with death and dying in new and more open ways.

Though grief, death and dying are ever present in both our personal lives and on a global scale – with the covid pandemic and climate crisis only further highlighting this –  we have repressed the discussion of death to the extent that it has become an alienating and frightening experience for the dying and those around them.

Our mission at The Art of Dying Institute is to support a cultural awakening to a deeper and more conscious engagement with death and to build and support a community committed to reshaping how we approach death, how we die, and the consequences for how we live. 

Our Mission

The Art of Dying Institute is a 501c3 not-for-profit located in New York City. The Institute began as a series of conferences and has evolved into a resource for education and community focusing on the spiritual, scientific and practical approaches to end of life care, bereavement, and death.  An important goal of the Art of Dying Institute is to find practical ways to return a sense of the sacred to death itself and to explore how awareness of our own mortality influences how we live. 

Let Go

The Institute’s work springs from a series of core questions:

  • How can we work more compassionately and intelligently with the dying? 
  • How can we develop more enlightened, collective care for the dying even in our environment of technological medicine and culture of individualism?
  • How can our own death, and the death of those we love, be faced with courage and awareness? How does a willingness to face death affect how we live?
  • Does consciousness survive death and, if so, what might we expect? How can we best prepare?


  • Provide holistic education programs taught by renowned practitioners and professionals from many areas of end of life expertise; including palliative care, hospice work, end of life doulas, music thanatology, bereavement and loss counseling, funeral home directors and spiritual leaders.
  • Program and coordinate local, national and international forums for community discussion and engagement 
  • Partner with front-line practitioners, hospitals, hospices,research centers, universities, holistic organizations and lay persons  
  • Empower contemporary thought leaders and front-line practitioners to reshape the dialogue around death and the spaces in which we confront death
  • Help facilitate a cultural shift in how we think about, engage with, and experience death

Why an Art of Dying Institute?

Every day, people face the realities of death frightened and unprepared.  Most people are unaware of their options for end of life and for creating meaningful memorials after death.

Despite the universality of death and grief, the experience is too often incredibly isolating. We often face bereavement alone without tools for finding meaning and healing. 

Caregivers of the dying and bereaved most commonly offer help without their own sustaining spiritual practices, adequate collegial support, or the important explorations of their own mortality, all of which contributes to a high level of burnout. 

The Institute’s main goal is to bring together outstanding innovators in palliative care with experts in spiritual and religious traditions to create state of the art educational programs to address these issues and reimagine the end of life experience.

Our Team

 Jan Booth, MA, RN,

Jan Booth, MA, RN,

Jan Booth, MA, RN, NC-BC, is the Program Facilitator for the Art of Dying Thanatology Certificate Program. She has worked as a nurse for over 37 years within the intersection of quality of life and end of life, and she is deeply curious about what creates and sustains wellbeing throughout the human experience. Her work trajectory has taken her from years at the bedside of hospice and palliative care patients to supporting the wellbeing of caregivers, and now into the larger community to further open our cultural conversation about end of life. Her current work is primarily as an end-of-life nurse, coach, and educator. She serves as faculty for the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, the Conscious Dying Collective, and the Art of Dying Institute’s integrative thanatology certificate program; and presents a wide variety of workshops on the transformative possibilities of end-of-life care. Additionally, Jan is the author of Re-Imagining the End-of-Life: Self-Development & Reflective Practices for Nurse Coaches, and one of the co-authors of Bold Spirit Caring for the Dying.

Laura King Otazo

Laura King Otazo

Laura King Otazo serves as Program Coordinator of the Art of Dying Thanatology Certificate Program, where she acts as the administrator of the program and the primary communicator between teachers, faculty, students and the public. Laura is a graduate of the program and can attest to its transformative potential. She is also an actor and teaching artist based in New York.

Please feel free to reach out to her with inquiries about the certificate program or the Institute as a whole at

Tom Valente

Tom Valente

Tom Valente provides oversight, guidance, and program development for the Art of Dying Institute. For over 30 years Tom has been at the forefront of transformative and holistic education. From his role in the development of the Omega Institute to his role as President of the Global Academy Foundation, Tom has distinguished himself as one of the premier creators of innovative educational programs. He has developed programs for many national and international educational institutions including, Imperial College London, Smithsonian Institute, Beijing University, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, Foreign Ministry of Panama, Mayo Clinic, Michigan State University, Albert Einstein Medical Center and AARP.

Ralph White

Ralph White

Ralph White is the co-creator of the New York Open Center and his vision guided its direction and programs for decades. He also co-founded the Art of Dying conferences in 1995 that have since evolved into the Art of Dying Institute where he provides guidance on areas of focus and development. A writer, speaker and organizer, he is president of the New Center for Holistic Learning NY and the author of The Jeweled Highway: On the Quest for a Life of Meaning.

Program info

The Integrative Thanatology Certificate Program*

The Integrative Thanatology Certificate Program* is a five month online course which provides an in-depth overview of death and dying. This course addresses the spiritual, practical, physical, psychological, and social aspects of the dying experience and is intended to reframe our current conception of dying by both reclaiming the wisdom and practices of the past and engaging with how death care can evolve into the future. 


Students will be supported throughout the program by our faculty and staff to not only deepen and expand their personal understanding of death and dying but also to forge connections and create networks with their classmates.  Our goal is to create a community of graduates who feel empowered to become a resource in their own circles and to help reshape the cultural dialogue, policies and practices around end of life care in the larger sphere.


The program is currently co-hosted by OneSpirit Learning Alliance. Detailed course information is available.

Attendees will learn:

  • Skills in navigating the experiences of death, dying, loss and bereavement
  • Current medical culture and options for improving end-of-life scenarios while under medical treatment
  • The effects of compassionate presence at the end of life
  • End of Life Planning
  • To return sacredness to the dying process
  • Tools for caregiving and caregivers 
  • Tools and techniques of the End of Life Doula 
  • Alternative options for handling the body after death and creating meaningful services
  • The possible role of psychedelics at end of life
  • Psycho-Spiritual Transformation in Death and Dying 
  • How to integrate this material with their life’s calling and creative work

Who is this training for:

This certificate program is appropriate for anyone with a sincere interest in this profound topic. 

The program will be of particular benefit to those working in hospice, nursing homes, and other health care settings, counselors, social workers, teachers, clergy, chaplains, and spiritual leaders, psychologists, death doulas, and others who want to broaden their work in the burgeoning field of death and dying.

*The Association of Death Education and Counseling® (ADEC) has deemed this program as counting towards the contact hour requirements for the ADEC CT/FT. 

For more information on ADEC certifications, please visit

“The wealth of information provided was incredible, but the relationships built and nurtured over this period is what I truly will never forget. I laughed, I cried, and I found my home - my safe haven - my family amongst all of you."

-Tatyana H.

“This was an incredible experience from start to finish. I loved the range of classes offered, and how for many of them we were able to break into small groups to get to know each other better. I thought the Integration sessions were wonderful, as it gave an opportunity for feedback and processing. This was a life-changing experience for me and I will never forget it."

-Mia N.

“The presenters were all wonderful in their own way. I learned so much from each of them. The topics were rich, deep, and practical. It was very special to go through this program with a wonderful cohort. I will miss our regular classes, integration sessions, and study. Thank you so much! Taking this class during the pandemic was a true gift for which I will always be grateful!"

Kim S.

“I loved the well roundedness of this program - the title perfectly describes what I loved, "Integrative Thanatology". It truly was integrative, and each of the presenters were passionate about their topic. There was a good amount of interaction time to process the information with presenters, and also other participants in the program. I felt like there was a lot of intention put into this program, and I really appreciate that."

Laurie R.

“Thanks so much for this online Thanatology program and for the beautiful work of the Open Center. Even if I live in Europe, it's a blessing to be able to attend your amazing courses online."

Ana Marcos-Gonzalez, MD


Free Introduction to the program with Jan Booth MA, RN,  NC-BC

Monday, January 8, 2024 |7:00 – 8:30 pm ET

Thursday, February 8, 2024 |7:00 – 8:30 pm ET



Friday, Feb. 23, 2024 | 7:00 – 9:00 pm ET


The focus of this introductory workshop is to begin to create a safe space where meaningful interaction with the death-positive movement can unfold. Students are introduced to thanatology as the study of death and dying and to their classmates for the next five months. We will explore our motivations for crossing the threshold to participate with the Art of Dying Institute. Students will become familiar with the Integrative Thanatology program syllabus and requirements for the certificate. Special attention will be given to the importance of individual plans for self-care and support through the months of this transformative program.



Saturday, February 2024 | 10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm ET


What if we re-imagined the end of life as a vital and purposeful stage of being fully human? In a death-phobic culture, practices that wake us up to our mortality are countercultural and radical acts. How do we learn and practice this particular path of awakening? To imagine new possibilities, we benefit from drawing out of a different well of thinking and experience — perhaps a different kind of knowing. Contemplative and mythic traditions teach the necessity of an inner path of dying—so that we can be more fully present with our own and others’ grief, losses, and death. This session draws from experiential practices, cultural tipping points, story-telling, music, and focused reflection to explore the mystery and meaning in dying – and how it transforms how we live.



Sunday, February 25, 2024|10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 – 5:30 pm ET

End of life is a developmental stage, which is experienced by all patients and requires a unique set of skills by their caregivers. However, those studying nursing, medicine, and other allied professions are usually not taught how their patients die. The absence of this education leads to misunderstanding about the nature and goals of medical care, inability to communicate, and increased suffering for clinicians, patients, and families.

Additionally, our healthcare institutions are designed to care for patients w/ acute episodic illnesses and are geared toward their recovery. However, many patients have chronic progressive life-limiting illnesses and will not recover. In this workshop, we will discuss how our education and institutional systems fail in the care of patients at the end of life and explore ways we can improve and transform them.  



Wednesday, March 6, 2024|7:00 pm – 9:00 pm ET


One of the most profound gifts we can offer each other in spiritual care is to create spaces where people feel fully heard. Thich Nhat Hahn said, “Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person.” Listening is a sacred act that when done well, supports us in feeling valued and accepted. Personal reactivity can show up as a barrier to deep listening and impedes our ability to be present in our service to others. In this interactive session we will: 1) define components of deep listening 2) learn how activation happens and its impact on our bodies 3) develop skills to work with our activation 4) discover tools to listen more deeply.



Monday, March 18, 2024 | 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm ET 


During this webinar, we will present the findings from the 2016 landmark NYU School of Medicine clinical trial on psychedelic research aimed to relieve the psychological and existential suffering associated with a life-threatening illness or the end of life. The trial demonstrated the efficacy of a single psilocybin-generated mystical experience in helping individuals with cancer cultivate meaning, enhance existential and psycho-spiritual well-being, and foster a greater acceptance of the dying process with less anxiety.


The scientific findings of reduction in depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and demoralization will be presented along with implications for the future of palliative and hospice care and the study of thanatology and consciousness. Psilocybin is the psychoactive compound found in specific species of mushrooms.


Features of a mystical experience include unity, sacredness, transcendence, ineffability, and an enhanced awareness of positive emotions, including that of love. Mystical experiences offer a novel therapeutic approach to promote an openness to the mystery of death and a deeper understanding of the study of meaning and spirituality.



Saturday, March 23, 2024 | 10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 – 5:30 pm ET


This workshop demonstrates the role of the death midwife from the final breath through the 3-day home vigil and funeral until final disposition. Open to professional and non-professional end-of-life caregivers and anyone wishing to care for their loved one naturally, at home, according to personal, religious, and cultural traditions.



  • Legalities & logistics of a 1 to 3-day home vigil
  • The death midwife kit
  • Care of the body (bathing, dressing, anointing)
  • Laying the body in honor
  • Dry-ice preservation
  • Stillbirth/Infant death – bringing baby home
  • Films, meditations, written exercises, and demonstrations support the information being shared.



Sunday, March 24, 2024 |10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 – 5:30 pm ET


Doulas step into the most intense, vulnerable thresholds of life to hold a hand, wipe a tear, and honor all that is meaningful. Feel invited to move from sympathy or empathy toward compassion to avoid energy depletion. Deepen your understanding of doula essentials of care. Learn useful, practical approaches and techniques that will enable you to support people more confidently through times of intensity, including birth, death, and grief. 


During this 6-hour interactive workshop, we will cover: 

  • Tenets of Doula Support 
  • Components of Compassion 
  • Liminal Space 
  • Being “Enough” 
  • The “Ins” of Holding Space
  • Personalizing with Plans 
  • Tools of the Trade  



Sunday, April 7, 2024 | 10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm ET


Today, there is a burgeoning transformation of cultural attitudes to death and a plethora of theories, methods, and practices that guide our work with the dying and bereaved.  However, regardless of one’s approach or perspective, there is a growing recognition among spiritual caregivers and helping professionals that one is more adequately prepared for companioning the dying and bereaved by investigating our own personal reactions and responses to death and dying. Especially in this time of pandemic crisis and its aftermath of grief residue, there are high levels of stress affecting caregivers: being able to wrestle with one’s own personal losses and with the grief one encounters doing this work leaves an individual less susceptible to “compassion fatigue” and more open to caring for others.


With this in mind, this experientially-oriented workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to explore their personal grief journey, as well as how both families of origin and the surrounding culture impact our attitudes towards grief and loss. In the final analysis, we shall look at death as a teacher that gives one the opportunity for psychological and spiritual development.



Tuesday, April 9, 2024 | 7:00pm -9:00pm ET


While less than 2% of all deaths in the U.S. occur by suicide, the aftermath of such a death is traumatic and overwhelming to the survivors, who need special support as they cope with shock and grief. The intent of this program is to raise awareness about suicide, break down the stigma that surrounds it, and prepare participants to support those impacted by suicide.  

In this webinar, we will cover the challenges faced by survivors of suicide death, what to do after a suicide death, as well as tips and tools for supporting a survivor of a suicide death.



Thursday, April 11, 2024 | 7:00-9:00pm ET


Music at the bedside brings beauty, intimacy, and comfort to end-of-life patients. It invites listeners to be present to what is going on both inside and around them. 


Catharine’s workshop offers the most effective uses of live vocal, instrumental, and recorded music for palliative individuals and their loved ones. She brings her experience as a freelance harpist, certified music-thanatologist, contemplative musician, and end-of-life educator to support patients and families, and to help them encounter the dying process as a natural passage. 



Saturday, April 20, 2024 | 10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 – 5:30 pm ET


Death matters to every moment of human life and to our psychological health. Death is “somatic” or body-centered in its core. Dying is a deeply energetic, emotional, spiritual, and physical process in which consciousness and the body change together over time. Yet this important process is not covered in somatic theories, and we often do not include the unity of mind and body in end of life work. 


During this day we will study how energy, consciousness and the body change over the entire human life, with special attention to the energetics of the dying process itself. What we find teaches us about human life in every moment. 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 one another as we explore the jewels within silence. To fully experience these somatic principles, we will include The Deathbed Exercise, which is a profound and useful way of experiencing the somatic principles of death and dying.




Sunday, April 21, 2024 | 10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 – 5:30 pm ET

Being Black in America has meant a continuous fight for freedom and humanity.  Unfortunately, this fight and assertion of humanity does not stop with death.  In this workshop we will explore how white supremacy has sought to imprint upon death and dying by exploring the unnatural and disconcerting ways in which African Americans have died.  In the same vein, we will examine the ways in which burial grounds and mourning patterns have particularly served as important vehicles for challenging postmortem racism and autonomous identity formation.  Ultimately students will learn how African American deathways and death care have served as important spaces for collective memory and mainstays of self-preservation.



Saturday, May 18, 2024 | 10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 – 5:30 pm ET

This workshop is a journey through time and place, to cultivate greater cross-cultural awareness and sensibility in the realms of dying, death, and life after death, and to reframe limited points of view through more expansive and inclusive perspectives. During the day we will meet other viewpoints, explore different ideas about death and the grieving process, connect with our own inner knowing and imaginal cosmovision, and generate new visions and innovative approaches in the work of companioning and end of life. 

We will focus on:

  • Transcending scripts, labels, myths
  • honoring origins
  • remembering our nature
  • evolving beyond ethnocentrism and insularity 

Teaching dynamics include lectures, practices, conversations, experiential exercises, breakout group work, and self-reflection exercises.



Sunday, May 19, 2024 |  10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 – 5:30 pm ET


Planning for your own death, and getting acquainted with what is both traditional and newly possible in today’s end-of-life rituals, is a spiritual practice that enables you to face your own mortality with serenity and courage. Sadly, people who postpone funeral discussions are too frequently confronted with decisions involving thousands of dollars as they hold Kleenex in their hands. Any funeral service today faces challenges posed by the novel coronavirus, not least of which is paying for funeral service itself in hard times. So how can families today find greater solace, healing, and empowerment? 


Join funeral director Amy Cunningham in a day-long talk about changes within the American funeral service. We’ll cover how to plan an earth-friendly funeral with hands-on involvement, a more meaningful cremation, or a memorial service on Zoom. We’ll also discuss new ways to honor and remember our loved ones involving altars, music, flowers, dance, and meditation. A farewell to a loved one today might entail a sequence of healing experiences instead of just one event. We’ll review every conceivable option and discuss green cemeteries near New York City, cremation pros and cons, biodegradable casket decorating, blended-faith/alternative ceremonies, and more. 




Sunday, June 9, 2024 | 10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 2:00 pm – 5:30 pm ET


More than 40,000 children in the U.S. die every year from trauma, lethal conditions, heritable disorders, acquired illnesses, and prematurity.  Pediatric palliative care is a dynamic interdisciplinary approach to care that, in the face of complex and life-threatening diagnoses, strives to enrich a child’s quality of life through relief of pain and other symptoms while also addressing the child’s and family’s social, psychological, and spiritual needs.  In this session, members of the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Palliative Care Team will share their experience and expertise working with pediatric patients and their families.  Students will gain a sense of life and death in an ICU and how the palliative care team works to ensure that even the briefest lives are infused with sacredness and dignity. Topics covered will include perinatal palliative care, the role of parents as decision-makers, the inclusion of children and teens in a death (their own/siblings’), memory-making, and more.



  • Educate students about pediatric and perinatal palliative care
  • Expand students’ understanding of how pediatric and perinatal palliative care are applied in various settings through real-world examples and case studies
  • Provide students practical information about meaningful memory-making activities, palliative birth plans, communicating with children and teens about death, parent and sibling support, bereavement and more 


  • PowerPoint Presentation / Lecture
  • Videos & Discussion
  • Case Studies 
  • Interactive Exercises




Saturday & Sunday, June 22-23, 2024 |10:00-5:00pm 


The presentation of capstone projects has evolved to be a sacred witnessing experience at the conclusion of our course. Each student presents an eight-minute project that represents a personal meaningful expression pertaining to some aspect of the end of life. Creativity is encouraged. Projects vary widely and reflect the uniqueness of each member of the class.

Current faculty

Jan Booth, MA, RN, NC-BC

Jan Booth, MA, RN, NC-BC

has worked as a nurse for over 37 years within the intersection of quality of life and end of life, and she is deeply curious about what creates and sustains wellbeing throughout the human experience. Her work trajectory has taken her from years at the bedside of hospice and palliative care patients to supporting the wellbeing of caregivers, and now into the larger community to further open our cultural conversation about end of life. Her current work is primarily as an end-of-life nurse, coach, and educator. She serves as faculty for the Integrative Nurse Coach Academy, the Conscious Dying Collective, and the Art of Dying Institute’s integrative thanatology certificate program; and presents a wide variety of workshops on the transformative possibilities of end-of-life care. Additionally, Jan is the author of Re-Imagining the End-of-Life: Self-Development & Reflective Practices for Nurse Coaches, and one of the co-authors of Bold Spirit Caring for the Dying.

Leslie Blackhall, MD

Leslie Blackhall, MD

is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Humanities at the University of Virginia Medical Center and Director of its Palliative Care Services. She also earned a master’s in theology, at Harvard Divinity School, with a concentration in biomedical ethics, history, and philosophy.

Wilka Roig, MA, MFA

Wilka Roig, MA, MFA

is a transpersonal psychologist, death doula, grief counselor, dream worker, ordained minister, educator, facilitator, writer, Taoist Arts instructor, musician, photographer, performance artist, silversmith, baker, mythmaker. She is the founder and president of Fundación Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (EKR) México Centro, deputy director of education of EKR Foundation Global, end-of-life doula educator and BIPOC/International advisor of the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA), co-founder of Red Iberoamericana de Acompañamiento en la muerte y el duelo. Her interests include the neurobiology of trauma, loss, grief, and relationships, conscious living & dying, birds, stars, confectionery arts, and wine culture 

Iya Rev. DeShannon Barnes-Bowens, MS

Iya Rev. DeShannon Barnes-Bowens, MS

is the founder of ILERA Counseling & Education Services, where she works as a psychotherapist, professional development trainer, and spiritual counselor. Through ILERA, she offers national & international workshops and programs focusing on sexuality and spirituality, sexual abuse and healing, and vicarious trauma and wellness. She is the author of Hush Hush: An African American Family Breaks their Silence on Sexuality and Sexual Abuse (2007, 2015).

Iya DeShannon has practiced Ifa-Orisa spirituality since 2001 and is an initiated priestess. She was ordained as an Interfaith Minister through One Spirit’s seminary in 2010 and served as a first-year dean, Assistant Director and Co-Director of the program. Find out more about Iya DeShannon and her work at

Rev. Eileen Fisher

Rev. Eileen Fisher

is an ordained minister, an initiated Sufi dervish and the former Co-Director of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. She holds a master’s degree in education and has experience developing educational programs while working with young children, families and adult learners. As a Middle School teacher, she developed and implemented a school-wide Mindfulness program for students. When she can, Eileen volunteers both locally and abroad.

Rev. Olivia Bareham

Rev. Olivia Bareham

is a certified Death Midwife, Home Funeral Guide and Celebrant. She holds degrees in Education and Natural Theology and Sacred Healing, and is the founder of the Sacred Crossings Institute and Sacred Crossings Alternative Funeral Home in Los Angeles.  Olivia has over 18 years’ experience as a death midwife guiding hundreds of families in the art of conscious dying and home-based after-death care. Olivia facilitates certificate training programs for Death Doulas and Death Midwives and manages her funeral home to support families seeking green and conscious alternatives to conventional funeral industry practices. Services include home funerals, green burials, and full-body deep sea burials. Please visit for more information.

Jeanne Denney, MA

Jeanne Denney, MA

is a somatic psychotherapist, educator, hospice worker, founder of the School of Unusual Life Learning (SoULL) and author of The Effects of Compassionate Presence on the Dying. She has worked in many roles to help people fearlessly embrace a life which includes aging, dying and nature. This has involved years at bedsides, study and research, in contributing pioneering ideas to somatic psychology, in death and grief work, teaching, mothering, and facilitation of the Art of Dying projects in New York City.  Her unique insights on energy and the body through aging, illness, and dying have been derived from this wide lens of human experience and a deep understanding of our mortal journey.

Ira Byock, MD, FAAHPM

Ira Byock, MD, FAAHPM

is a leading medical authority, author, and public advocate for improving care for people living with serious medical conditions. Dr. Byock is an active emeritus professor of medicine and community & family medicine at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. His research has contributed to conceptual frameworks for the lived experience of illness; measures for subjective quality of life; and counseling methods for life completion and wellbeing. He is founder of the Institute for Human Caring within the Providence health system. The Institute drives transformation in clinical systems and culture to make caring for whole persons the new normal. Byock has authored numerous articles in academic journals. His books include Dying WellThe Four Things That Matter Most, and The Best Care Possible. More information is available at

Francesca Lynn Arnoldy

Francesca Lynn Arnoldy

is a community doula and death literacy advocate. She is the author of Cultivating the Doula Heart (a guidebook), Map of Memory Lane (a picture book) and The Death Doula’s Guide to Living Fully and Dying Prepared (an interactive workbook). Francesca is a researcher with the Vermont Conversation Lab and she was the original course developer of the University of Vermont’s End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate Programs. She regularly presents on life-and-death topics with hopes of encouraging people to support one another through times of intensity. You can find her contemplating birth, death, and life with the doula heart at

Dr. Karen Wyatt, MD

Dr. Karen Wyatt, MD

is a retired hospice physician and the author of the award-winning book 7 Lessons for Living from the Dying. She hosts the popular podcast End-of-Life University and is widely regarded as a thought leader in the effort to transform the way we care for the dying in the U.S. Learn more at her website:

Rev. Kat Kowalski, MDiv, BCC

Rev. Kat Kowalski, MDiv, BCC

 is the Perinatal Palliative Care and Chaplaincy Coordinator at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She often works with parents who have received a worrisome prenatal diagnosis, and has ministered to countless families experiencing the serious illness and/or death of a baby.

Emily Johnson, MSN, CRNP

Emily Johnson, MSN, CRNP

is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner who provides palliative care in Johns Hopkins’ Pediatric ICU. With extensive experience in pediatric critical care nursing, she has cared for hundreds of dying children. In addition to advanced degrees in nursing, Emily holds certificates in Nurse Education and Pediatric Bioethics.

Cora Gallagher, CCLS, MA

Cora Gallagher, CCLS, MA

is the Program Manager of Pediatric Palliative Care at Johns Hopkins. She provides psycho-social support to patients and families as well as follow-up bereavement care. She has degrees in Child Life, Literature and Pastoral Care, and special interest in adolescents and informed decision-making at all stages of development.

Catharine DeLong

Catharine DeLong

is a certified music thanatologist, hospice chaplain, and end-of-life educator based in Salt Lake City. With harp and voice she tends to the emotional, physical and spiritual needs at the bedside of palliative patients and their loved ones. Catharine is a graduate of the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary. Her 2021 video performance at the edge the Great Salt Lake brings awareness to climate thanatology. 

Rabbi Simcha Raphael, Ph.D.

Rabbi Simcha Raphael, Ph.D.

is the Founding Director of the DA’AT Institute for Death Awareness, Advocacy, and Training. He has served as Adjunct Professor of Religion at LaSalle University, Temple University and the Aleph (Rabbinic) Ordination Program, and currently works as a psychotherapist and bereavement counselor in the Philadelphia area. Ordained by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi as a pastoral rabbi, he is the author of numerous publications on death and the afterlife, including the groundbreaking Jewish Views of the Afterlife. His website is

Anthony P. Bossis, Ph.D.

Anthony P. Bossis, Ph.D.

 is a clinical psychologist and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, an Adjunct Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, and an Investigator at The Lundquist Institute for Biomedical Innovation at UCLA.   Since 2006, he has conducted FDA-approved clinical research with the psychedelic compound psilocybin.  His primary psychedelic research interests are the treatment of end-of-life existential distress and to advance our understanding of consciousness, meaning, and spirituality. Dr. Bossis was director of palliative care research and co-principal investigator on the landmark 2016 clinical trial demonstrating a significant reduction in emotional distress from a single psilocybin session in persons with cancer, specifically, a rapid decrease in depression, anxiety, hopelessness, and demoralization along with improvements in spiritual well-being and quality of life.   He is the study director and lead therapist on an FDA-approved clinical trial investigating a psilocybin-generated mystical experience upon religious leaders. Dr. Bossis is a training supervisor of psychotherapy at NYU-Bellevue Hospital Center and co-founder and former co-director of the Bellevue Hospital Palliative Care Service. He is a faculty member at The Center for Psychedelic Therapies and Research at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology and a guest editor for the journal’s Special Series on Psychedelics. Dr. Bossis has a long-standing interest in comparative religion, mystical experience, and the interface of psychology and spirituality.  He maintains a private psychotherapy and consulting practice in NYC.

Amy Cunningham

Amy Cunningham

was a magazine writer until 2007 when her elderly father’s memorial service got her interested in helping folks plan more meaningful end-of-life services. When she’s not directing funerals, she writes a funeral planning blog called She believes that a good funeral can send everyone in attendance out the door with an altered view of what life’s all about, and the beginnings of a plan for moving forward.

Tashel C. Bordere, PHD, CT

Tashel C. Bordere, PHD, CT

 is a grant funded researcher at the Center for Family Policy and Research at the University of Missouri Columbia. She is a Forward Promise Fellow (Boys & Young Men of Color) and certified Thanatologist. Dr. Bordere publishes works relating to diversity and resilience through loss including a coedited book, Handbook of Social Justice in Loss, and Grief. Her research areas include African American youth grief and adjustment to loss (homicide, race-based trauma). She also developed S.H.E.D. Loss and Grief Tools.


Our Story

The Art of Dying Institute was born from five world-class Art of Dying conferences held between 1995 and 2016 with New York Open Center.  From there it expanded to offer many programs on end-of-life care and the nature of death and dying. 

Letting Go

These programs lead to the development of our Integrative Thanatology Certificate Program, created in 2015 to provide comprehensive training to those drawn to a holistic approach to dying. Originally held in person in New York City, the program shifted online during the pandemic and has since grown in size and scope, now reaching students across the United States and internationally.

The work of the Art of Dying Institute has had a profound impact on shifting the consciousness toward facing death in a healthier and more holistic manner. Our goal is to continue to evolve to address the needs of our world in grieving, death and dying and to expand our partnerships with like minded groups to make this learning more accessible to everyone.

Past Art of Dying Conferences

Art of Dying 1

Art of Dying 1 March 1995

Art of Dying 2

Art of Dying 2 March 1997

Art of Dying 3

Art of Dying 3 March 2000

Art of Dying 4

Art of Dying 4 October 2010

Art of Dying 5

Art of Dying 5 April 2015

Art of Dying 6

Art of Dying 6 October 2017

The fifth and sixth Art of Dying conferences held in New York City hosted hundreds of practitioners, researchers, scholars, organization leaders, and lay people interested and engaged in this vital field. Keynote speakers and workshop presenters were drawn from the leading figures in the field, including:


  • Eben Alexander M.D.
  • Lesley Blackhall M.D.
  • Peter Fenwick, M.D.
  • Henry Fersko-Weiss LCSW
  • Thomas Moore Ph.D.
  • Frank Ostaseski
  • Anthony Bossis, Ph.D.
  • Simcha Raphael, Ph.D.
  • Robert Thurman, Ph.D.
  • Pim van Lommel, M.D. 


For more information or to stay updated on our latest programs, please contact us below.  


~ Thank you for your interest in The Art of Dying.

If you’d like to support the work we do, please email to make a donation or discuss partnership.


P.O.Box 1468  4602 21st St

Long Island City, NY

11101 - 9998

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