Announcing Our LGBTQ End-Of-Life Guide Project Learn More!

Good Death Fellowships Open

The Order has opened applications for their second cohort of Good Death Fellows to find the next generation of innovative leaders finding solutions to address social and systemic problems in death. The first cohort included individuals and organizations with bold ideas on how to create a more sustainable, equitable, and meaningful end-of-life. The 2022 Fellows included: 

  • Wake, a community deathcare non-profit that connects economically disenfranchised people with affordable deathcare resources
  • Brian Walsh, a communications designer who is creating an interactive website detailing the financial and environmental impact of end-of-life choices
  • Olivia Matthews, a playwright from Central Florida whose work often explores family dynamics, the complexities of young women and teens, and the oddities and magic of The South
  • A Sacred Passing, a death midwifery and community education nonprofit from Seattle

The Order acknowledges that the way our society handles death and dying is broken in many ways. The Order focuses on creative solutions to remedying these problems by recognizing that everyone can make a difference, and that communities are best served by those who are active participants in them. The Order wants to invest in individuals, ideas, and communities, by providing them with the tools, funding and support to make a difference. “Over a decade ago The Order was founded as a collective of individuals-thinkers, artists, inventors, and funeral industry innovators-whose work explored ways to reframe what was possible at the end-of-life, and help our society cultivate a healthier relationship with death. The Good Death fellowship continues this legacy by supporting the next generation of death positive leaders creating a better life and death for us all” says Sarah Chavez, Executive Director of The Order of the Good Death.

To learn more or apply, check out The Order’s Fellowship page.

January 2024

Man and woman with mask heads

Henrietta Duterte Scholarship Awarded

In 2020 The Order of the Good Death partnered with the Community College of Baltimore County to create the Henrietta Duterte Endowment Fund to provide funding for Black women to study Mortuary Science.

The 2022 Henrietta Duterte Scholarship was awarded to Jules Tetlow, a student in CCBC’s Mortuary Science Program, who is currently working as  an apprentice at West Haven Funeral Home in Maryland. Tetlow is passionate about building her skills in extreme restoration and reconstruction work saying, “Everyone deserves to say goodbye to their loved ones and if I can be there to help guide those who have been left behind, my life will always be fulfilled.” Tetlow will be honored at a reception at CCBC in May 2023.

April 2023-2024

logo for the federal trade commission

The Order Speaks at the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule Workshop

The Federal Trade Commission hosted a panel featuring leading funeral industry experts regarding their proposed updates to the Funeral Rule on September 7, 2023. The Rule, a regulation that protects consumers purchasing funeral goods and services, has gone unchanged since its creation in the 1980s. Proposed changes regarding requiring funeral homes to provide pricing on websites, clarifying language about embalming, and whether to include “new” forms of disposition such as green burial, aquamation, and human composting.

Order Executive and funeral consumer advocate, Sarah Chavez, spoke about this historic piece of regulation alongside fellow Founding Order Members, Katrina Spade of Recompose, and Tanya Marsh from Wake Forest University School of Law.

graphic with burgundy background and white text ernest becker foundation

Order of the Good Death Receives $10,000 Donation From the Ernest Becker Foundation

In December 2023, it was announced that the Ernest Becker Foundation will close its doors, but the legacy of Ernest Becker’s work will continue as part of the International Society for the Science of Existential Psychology.

In an effort to extend Becker’s legacy further, EBF’s Board of Trustees has gifted their remaining assets to several organizations whose work they believe advances that of Becker’s, including The Order of the Good Death, Morbid Anatomy, founded by Founding Order Member Joanna Ebenstein, and Death Cafe.

Ernest Becker was “an American cultural anthropologist and interdisciplinary thinker and writer. He wrote several books on human motivation and behavior, most notably the 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning work, The Denial of Death. In it, he argues that “the basic motivation for human behavior is our biological need to control our basic anxiety, to deny the terror of death.” (Keen 1973). Becker suggested that a significant function of culture is to provide successful ways to engage in death denial.” Becker’s work deeply informs the foundation of The Order’s work and mission, and continues to profoundly influence the Death Positive Movement.

January 2024

Nationwide Volunteer Program Launched to Educate General Public About Their Rights and Choices in Death

The Order has launched a community outreach and education program spanning the U.S. and Canada. Volunteers work together to research end-of-life rights and options in their geographic location and then host free public events to educate their communities. Attendees learn about consumer rights, emerging sustainable choices like aquamation and composting, and more.

This volunteer effort is intended to reach small communities to offer education and resources that community members may not know about or otherwise know how to access. If you are interested in learning more, please visit the volunteer page.

April 2023-ongoing

Louisiana LGBTQ+ End of Life Guide

The Order Launches the LGBTQ+ End of Life Guide Project

The Order is creating comprehensive LGBTQ+ end-of-life planning guides for every U.S. state. Our end-of-life experiences are as unique and varied as our lives, often reflecting the same challenges we experience in life. As a result, people in the LGBTQ+ community often have their own unique set of needs at the end-of life, placing them at a higher risk for discrimination and disenfranchisement.

To address these gaps the Order of the Good Death is partnering with Ezra Salter, funeral director and creator of Wake’s Louisiana LGBTQ+ End-of-Life Guide, to create inclusive guides for all U.S. states. It is The Order’s intention that the series of guides will empower LGBTQ+ people and the people who care about them, to make informed choices about their own, or a loved one’s, end-of-life care.

Learn more about the project. 

January 2024

cover of WE Need to Talk About Death featuring an illustration of a young boy embraced by a man depicted as a transparent figure

Order of the Good Death’s Executive Director, Sarah Chavez’s New Book Helps Children and Parents Talk About Death

Death is an important part of life, and yet it is one of the hardest things to talk about—for adults as well as children. The Order’s own Sarah Chavez has created a book to spark wonder and curiosity about dying, instead of fear and shame. Full of practical tips, We Need To Talk About Death: An IMPORTANT Book About Grief Celebrations, and Love won’t stop the pain of losing a loved one or a pet, but it may give young readers ideas for different ways they can celebrate those who have passed away, and help begin the healing process.

Beautifully illustrated by Annika Le Large.

Take a look inside We Need to Talk About Death, find links to order, or find at your local bookstore.

March 2024

banner for the future of death care conference features text over a photo of a cemetery fence

The Order Presents at the Future of Deathcare in America Conference

The Wake Forest Law Review 2024 Spring Symposium brought together leaders in the death-care industry, academics and reformers to discuss key issues facing death care in America. Order Founder, Caitlin Doughty provided the symposium’s keynote which focused on funeral industry licensure.

Over the course of a day, speakers shared their perspectives on what faces funeral service now and what it means for the future, including the Funeral Rule, new disposition methods, and licensure of funeral directors. Founding Order Members Katrina Spade and Tanya Marsh also spoke at the event.

Video of the event is available to view on YouTube.

March 2024

wide shot photograph of a large stadium style modern classroom. Students sit while a panel of instructors sit in front of a large screen.

The Order Partners With Kaiser Medical School To Teach Second Year Med Students About Death

Second year med students at Kaiser School of Medicine spent an immersive week dedicated to Sharing Grief and Honoring Loss as part of their REACH Course (Reflection, Education, Assessment, Coaching, Health and Wellbeing) program, which focuses on the “being” part of the physician–as opposed to the “knowing” and “doing” part. REACH aims to helping students navigate the personal and professional values and identity in becoming a physician.

During the week students explored the topics of death, dying in grief through personal exploration, an expert led discussion panel that included The Order,  studied end-of-life wishes, and reflected on memento mori through the arts, among other activities.

February 2024