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

We all play different yet equally important roles within the Death Positive Movement. Sometimes finding the role that best suits your passion, skills, and knowledge base can be challenging. The Social Change Ecosystem Map, created by Deepa Iyer, can be a valuable guide.


Social Change Ecosystem Map, created by Deepa Iyer

Characteristics of the Roles

Learn more about each role as defined by Deepa Iyer, followed by the addition of examples from the Death Positive Movement.


I see the through-lines of connectivity between people, places, organizations, ideas, and movements.

Although we are all mortal, our experiences of death are vastly different. Weavers help us see and understand the reasons underlying these experiences, and connect the wide range of people working in death separately, yet deeply connected.

  • Collective For Radical Death Studies
    CRDS brings together death scholars, practitioners, and activists whose mission is to create anti-racist death studies, policies, and practices that center the experiences and needs of marginalized communities.


I innovate, pioneer, and invent. I take risks and course-correct as needed.

Inventors and innovators, reimagining the death experience:

  • Katrina Spade
    Founder of Recompose, a public benefit corporation dedicated to changing the current death care paradigm. Thanks to a decade of Spade’s innovations and dedication, states across the U.S. now have access to Natural Organic Reduction (human composting), offering a more sustainable death care choice.
  • The DeathLAB
    A team of researchers, scholars, and experts, democratizing death by designing new models of mortuary infrastructure.

Frontline Responders

I address community crises by marshaling and organizing resources, networks, and messages.

Community leaders who are able to apply their skills and expertise to address urgent needs, by filling in systemic, education, and death care gaps.

  • Joe’l Anthony
    This funeral director and educator is addressing racial disparities in death care by creating and expanding Mortuary Science education for students and practitioners.
  • Ari Simon
    The creator of Queering Death, a community learning series that explores intersections of death, dying, and grief with queer identity and queer theory.


I imagine and generate our boldest possibilities, hopes and dreams, and remind us of our direction.

People who build bridges between basic systems of end-of-life and death care and the things that actually make a good death.

  • Yoko Sen
    While hospitalized, musician Yoko Sen asked herself “What is the last sound I wish to hear at the end of my life?” With this in mind she began to create soundscapes for hospitalized patients.
  • Pāhiki Caskets
    Making eco-conscious death care options accessible by creating caskets that are low impact and 100% responsibly salvaged wood from local arborists in Hawaiʻi.
  • Threshold Singers
    International, volunteer groups of singers who bring the comfort of music to those who are dying.


I develop, organize, and implement ideas, practices, people, and resources in service of a collective vision.

The people and organizations who can take our dreams and ideas for a better death care experience and put them into practice.

  • Amani Community Health Corporation
    Providing culturally competent education and support at the end-of-life for African Americans in the Chicago area.
  • Humane Prison Hospice Project
    Established a training program for inmates to provide end-of-life care to other prisoners.
  • People’s Memorial Association
    Founded in 1939 PMA set out to create an alternative to the high prices and predatory sales practices of the funeral industry. Their goal is to make affordable funeral services that honor the deceased’s social and spiritual values accessible to all.


I nurture and nourish the people around me by creating and sustaining a community of care, joy, and connection.

Providers of support, wisdom, and care, these death caregivers help to cultivate a community that is continuously striving to learn more and do better—together.

  • A Sacred Passing
    This inspiring community death care organization is leading the way by providing alternative death care options, services and education, while fostering community. A Sacred Passing is a prime example of the power of community death care.
  • Philly Death Doula Collective
    A collective of doulas that thoughtfully serves and supports their local and extended community through events, educational opportunities, and a popular TikTok account which provides important social, political, and cultural context to end-of-life work.


I take uncomfortable and risky actions to shake up the status quo, to raise awareness, and to build power.

Individuals who challenge systems of power and accepted practices and beliefs by educating the public and providing healthy alternatives to our current death and mourning practices.

  • Alternative Funeral Homes 
    Funeral homes that are disrupting the funeral industrial complex by placing death positive ideals into practice like family involvement, sustainable and affordable options, and home funerals at the forefront of their services. Some of these are Fitting Tribute Funerals in New York, the Natural Funeral Home in Colorado, and Elemental Cremation and Burial in Washington.
  • Megan Devine
    A psychotherapist and grief advocate who is challenging our perceptions and behaviors around grief; teaching us the necessary skills, and providing us with the necessary tools to create a compassionate, grief literate society.


I recognize and tend to the generational and current traumas caused by oppressive systems, institutions, policies, and practices.

People changing the end of life experience from within the system and envisioning more equitable models of care:

  • Dr. Sunita Puri
    A Los Angeles based physician and author who’s decolonizing palliative care.
  • Kimberly D. Acquaviva
    A professor whose work has helped to establish models of competent and compassionate end-of-life care for LGBTQ people in institutional settings.


I craft and share our community stories, cultures, experiences, histories, and possibilities through art, music, media, and movement.

People who share their own stories and experiences of death and grief through their art in an effort to help others.

  • AJ Hawkins
    Combining art and advocacy to explore the challenges of living in a mortal body.
  • devynn emory
    Uses their experiences of being a hospice nurse, dance artist, and ceremonial guide to create immersive experiences, like deadbird, which offers space to hold grief and reimagine end-of-life care.


I teach, counsel, and advise, using my gifts of well-earned discernment and wisdom.

The people who leverage their experiences, knowledge and skills to empower their communities at the end-of-life.

  • Chrystal Toop
    Creator of a death doula mentorship program for indigenous youth.
  • Bridgette Hempstead
    After being diagnosed with breast cancer only after advocating for herself through numerous systemic barriers, Hempstead founded Cierra Sisters, an African American breast cancer organization that provides life saving support and education.

Deepa Iyer, Building Movement Project. SM, © 2018 Deepa Iyer. All rights reserved. All prior licenses revoked.