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The Good Death Fellowship supports the people and organizations creating the future of death.


Good Death Fellows 2022

Meet this year’s fellows–leaders in the Death Positive Movement addressing systemic and social problems to help everyone die better.


Smiling woman

Olivia Matthews

Playwright

The Idea

Theater as a vehicle to illuminate similarities and tensions between the Death Positive Movement and the Movement for Black Lives.

The Project

Olivia Matthews’ play “Here Lies Vivienne Greene” follows Vivienne, a funeral director at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. Vivienne helps a desperate Black mother to help save her boy from an angry white mob by smuggling him out of town in a casket– alive. Audio and virtual versions of the play will be created and made available, along with commentary from deathcare advocates, historians, and activists. In the spirit of Theater of the Oppressed, audience members will be invited to participate in a discussion addressing the conflicts in the play and then physically explore and engage possible solutions to racist institutional practices in their communities and the funeral industry.

Project Status:

As of August  2023 “Here Lies Vivienne Greene” is completing the casting process. A performance will be recorded and made available in late 2023. Follow @hereliesviviennegreene on Instagram for updates. 

Black man acting in dramatic lighting

About

Olivia Matthews’ plays have been seen in Atlanta, Vancouver, Houston, and NYC. Her work often explores family dynamics, the complexities of young women and teens, and the oddities and magic of The South. Olivia received her M.F.A. in Playwriting from Ohio University. In 2020, she participated in the Sesame Workshop Writers’ Room Fellowship. Her full-length play Absentia is the 2020 winner of the Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award and was recently named a panel favorite by The Wayward Artist. Visit Olivia’s website.

Location

Central Florida

Wake logo

Wake

Community Deathcare Nonprofit

The Idea

Target a gap in social services and make affordable and environmentally sustainable deathcare available to the community.

The Project

Wake’s Deathcare Concierge Program draws on New Orleans’ long history of mutual aid societies. The program connects economically disenfranchised people struggling with the costs and bureaucracy of dying with affordable and ecologically sustainable resources such as low-cost funeral arrangements, memorialization, no-to-low-cost grief support, and legal help.

Project Status:

The Fellowship grant allowed Wake to directly assist 23 families through their Deathcare Concierge Program, and expand access to many more by making several resources available online free of charge. The Fellowship also made it possible for the Concierge program to evolve into an expanded offering-theDeathcare Program. This new program will provide much needed assistance beyond the funeral itself, such as grief support, estate management and more. A sustainable governance structure has been formed to ensure the success of the Deathcare Program, in service to the community. 

Graves at cemetary with giant old tree

About

Wake is a nonprofit organization with a mission to provide education and resources for meaningful, affordable, and environmentally sustainable deathcare. They work to connect the community to deathcare through direct service and via educational materials and outreach events. Wake’s vision is for everyone in the community to have equal access to quality deathcare, regardless of socioeconomic status. Visit Wake’s website.

Location

New Orleans, LA

portrait of smiling man

Brian Walsh

Communication Designer

The Idea

An interactive website that reveals the financial and environmental impact of your death choices.

Project Description

Brian Walsh is designing an illustrated and highly interactive website experience. Visitors will select their preferred method of disposition–conventional burial, cremation, or eco-friendly options like green burial and aquamation.

Based on their choices, visitors will be presented with information on the financial, religious, and environmental aspects of their choice. The website will address the availability of the option depending on their location and how it might affect family participation. Visitors will be able to compare each option based on what is most meaningful and important to them at the end-of-life.

Project Status:

The website is currently in the final stages of development including animation, fact checking, statistics, and selecting a name for the project. There will be an opportunity to test the site and provide feedback in late 2023.

Website interface with typography and a body going into a machine

About

Brian Walsh is an Assistant Professor of Communication Design at Elon University, and directs the Media Analytics program. He holds a BA in Communications from UNC Chapel Hill and an MFA from CalArts, and has taught web and data programming for nearly two decades. This is his first creative project to successfully synthesize his teaching interests with his research on American death traditions. Visit Brian’s website.

Location

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Image of bird with text

A Sacred Passing

Death Midwifery & Community Education Nonprofit

The Idea

Increase the access to education for people wanting to learn how to support and care someone through abortion and pregnancy loss.

Project Description

A guided curriculum alongside free resources to train people to support those seeking abortion, wanting to care for someone through their abortion, or experiencing reproductive loss. The materials will work to increase the number of people who feel confident enough to support those who have had an abortion as well as increase the number of people who understand the actual process of abortion, the legal landscape, and barriers to access. A curriculum based online will create accessibility in states where this information and care is illegal.

Project Status:

Course materials have been completed and a self-paced version of the Abortion Doula Training is currently available, with live classes expected to launch in fall 2023. You can get information or sign up for the waitlist on A Sacred Passing’s website.

People standing around covered body

About

A Sacred Passing’s mission is to guide and assist people towards a more conscious dying experience while honoring individual autonomy. They work to actively dismantle systems of oppression as they present in death and dying through education, care, and advocacy, by building access-focused, anti-racist, and gender-inclusive environments, death doula training, educational offerings, community events, and resources. A Sacred Passing offers death and dying education to individuals, community associations, and medical organizations. Visit A Sacred Passing’s website.

Location

Seattle, WA


The Good Death Fellowship Program Offers Support Through

  • Funding
  • Expert support and mentoring
  • Access to resources and specialists
  • Connection to a community with a passion for changing the future of death care

Want to support the Fellowship program?

Invest in a more eco-friendly, meaningful, and equitable future of death by donating here.