Reimagine End of Life is a community-wide exploration of death and celebration of life through creativity and conversation. Drawing on the arts, spirituality, healthcare, and design, we create weeklong series of events that break down taboos and bring diverse communities together in wonder, preparation, and remembrance.

The Reimagine End of Life festival happens October 27 - November 3 all over New York City, in venues but also hospitals, libraries, houses of worship, senior centers, and even cemeteries, featuring live music, comedy, films, talks, workshops and more. On the music side, Cloud Cult will play WNYC's Greene Space on November 1 and the show will also include a conversation with lead singer Craig Minowa (tickets); and the closing night show at Le Poisson Rouge on November 3 features Chadwick Stokes and Brad Corrigan of Dispatch, plus comedian Laurie Kilmartin (the author of Dead People Suck: A Guide for Survivors of the Newly Departed), and more (tickets).

The opening night of the festival happens at Merkin Hall on October 27 and will include current National Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, author Frank Ostaseski, and "notable comedians, musicians, and dancers to be announced" (tickets). Check out Reimagine End of Life festival highlights below, and check out the full schedule here.



Opening  Nights
Merkin Hall; October 27th, 8:00pm-10pm
Reimagine End of Life Opening Night: A kick-off and preview of the week to come, this night of creative works inspired by death, dying, loss, and love features unique performances by current National Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, author Frank Ostaseski, and notable comedians, musicians, and dancers to be announced.

Closing Night
Le Poisson Rouge, November 3rd, 7:30pm
Reimagine End of Life Closing Night: Chadwick Stokes & Brad Corrigan of Dispatch, comedian Laurie Kilmartin (the author of “Dead People Suck: A Guide for Survivors of the Newly Departed”), and more headline the festival’s closing celebration.

Live Performances

Cloud Cult Concert and Conversation
The Greene Space @ WNYC; November 1st, 7pm
WNYC hosts celebrated indie rock band Cloud Cult in one of their most intimate performances yet. Host Dawn Gross of KALW will interview lead singer Craig Minowa, covering topics of love, loss and more.

An evening of Modern Loss, Six-Word Storytelling
Housing Works Bookstore Cafe; November 1st, 7:00pm-9:30pm
Join Modern Loss for an evening of community, libations, and Six-Word Memoir storytelling about the long arc of grief — the good, the bad, the ugly, and even the hilarious.

It’s Never Too Late
Secret Venue; October 27th, 7:30pm-10pm
An intimate concert and multidisciplinary art event taking place in a secret location where you will create a poem, song or art piece for a deceased loved one sharing something you wish you had told them.


Reimagine End of Life Film Series
A film series that showcases contemporary and classic films that examine death and dying. Highlights include author and New York Times journalist John Leland in conversation with 95-year-old filmmaker Jonas Mekas at Anthology Film Archives, a screening of Mrs. Fang (Wang Bing, 2017) at the Museum of the Moving Image, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, Queens Public Library, and Union Docs.


Roz Chast in Conversation
JCC Manhattan; October 29th, 7:30pm-9pm
Since joining The New Yorker in 1978, Roz Chast has established herself as one of the greatest artistic chroniclers of the anxi­eties, superstitions, furies, and inse­curities of modern life. Reimagine will host a conversation with the author/artist of more than a dozen books, including the best-selling Can’t We Talk About Some­thing More Pleasant?, which chronicles her relationship with her aging parents as they shifted from independence to dependence.
New York Public Library, 53rd St. Branch; October 30th, 6:30pm-8pm
An Exploration of Possibilities at the End of Life: Moderated by physician Jennifer Brokaw, this panel features graphic journalist/illustrator Wendy MacNaughton who will present her work with the Zen Hospice Project and San Quentin Prison. Participants also include Ladybird Morgan, co-founder of the Humane Prison Hospice Project and co-facilitator of the San Quentin peer support group Brothers Keepers, and palliative care physician Ira Byock. Byock will present the Four Things That Matter Most-- sentiments that can help us resolve interpersonal difficulties with integrity and grace. Part of a larger Reimagine thematic spotlight on comics, graphic memoir and medicine.


How to Write a Condolence Letter
67th Street New York Public Library; October 29th, 3pm-4pm
Join funeral director and Green-Wood Cemetery educator, Amy Cunningham, for this writing workshop which includes readings of historic missives by Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and Queen Victoria herself with comparisons to modern letter writing.

Vision Space NYC; October 30th, 6:30pm-8pm
A Workshop to Write Your Own Obituary: How will you be remembered? Let's set the record straight by writing your own obituary!

Spirituality and rituals

Remembrance For Those Whose Bodies Lie Beneath the Earth-Known and Unknown by artist Elizabeth Velazquez
Washington Square Park South; November 3rd, 5:00pm-6:00pm
In 1797, part of Washington Square Park was a Potter’s Field for the burial of thousands of people, many of which died of yellow fever and others in poverty. The ritual aims to activate discussion around the sacredness of land, bodies, and spirit realm. Washington Square Park South; November 3rd, 5:00pm-6:00pm

Body as a Temple of Memory: The Immortal Art of Tattooing
Rising Dragon Tattoos, 7:30-9:30 PM
At Rising Dragon Tattoos, guests will explore the symbolic meaning of Tattoo Art, retracing its link to the primordial fear of detachment and separation from the human realm. Guests will tell stories about life, paint together to reimagine ourselves and lift our sleeves to display tattoos, searching for empathy.

Project Prithvi Reimagined
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (North Channel Bridge); November 3rd, 10:00am-1:00pm
Part of monthly cleanups of Jamaica Bay, where Indo-Caribbean Hindus often perform puja (ceremonial worship) and where many non-biodegradable religious items wash up ashore. The event will begin with a brief program in honor of late ancestors and family members, an eco-friendly consolidated version of an end-of-life worship ritual, and finally an excerpt of a play done by another community-based organization, Jahajee Sisters, that "reimagines" the life of Stacy Singh, who was murdered at the hands of gender-based violence.

Visual arts and performance art
Union Theological Seminary; October 29th, 3pm-9pm
Conversations I Wish I Had: If you could pick up the phone and call someone who is dead, who would you call? What would you say? Occupying a small administrative office at Union Theological Seminary, artist Morgan Brown--who at the age of 22 lost her mother in a car crash--will facilitate the sharing of grief stories.

After a Fashion: The Funeral Clothes Project
ChaShaMa; October 27th, 10am-4pm
Inspired by a personal experience with a dress she wore to her mother’s funeral and could never bring herself to put on again, Spencer Merolla asked family, friends and strangers whether they also had clothing too tainted by association to wear. Slowly she began collecting clothes—sometimes decades old—that had languished unworn in the backs of closets, too distressing to wear and too sentimental to just throw away.

Redressing the Body: Rituals of Death and Memory
Fashion Institute of Technology; November 2nd, 6pm-8pm
A captivating conversation and showcase with fashion designers and scholars hosted by FIT’s MFA Fashion Design Program about how gender, race, and class play into (end-of-) life experiences. Keynote speaker is Mark Mitchell, an Arizona- based HIV+ artist whose hand-knitted shrouds were shown in 2013 at the Frye Art Museum. Mark continues to create custom-made shrouds and textile sculptures that explore themes of death, burial, and mass incarceration.

Walking Tours

Death in Colonial New York Walking Tour
Various Manhattan Locations; October 27th, 4pm-5:30pm
Few traces of colonial New York remain among Manhattan's streets and skyscrapers. This walking tour, hosted by Allison C. Meier and Morbid Anatomy, will uncover the history of mortality in early New York, particularly related to how and where a person was interred.

Day of the Dead Festival
St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery; October 26-28,, 12pm-6pm
Celebrate our beloved Day of the Dead tradition in New York City with art-making, live music, Mexican Folk Art and more. Join us and dedicate our ofrenda (altar) to your departed loved-ones by placing copies of photographs. On October 27, Reimagine will offer a card-making workshop and distribute Memory Boxes with Spanish-language inserts.


Funny as a Funeral
Plaza Jewish Community Chapel; October 28th, 7pm
NYC's legendary improv group Chicago City Limits uses audience suggestions to embark on a laugh quest from this world to the next world and back, with a few pit stops in between.

Improv workshops with Upright Citizens Brigade:
The comedy and entertainment company founded by Amy Poehler will offer a variety of 2-hour improv workshops that tackle end-of-life issues, from teambuilding for caregivers to helping people define their own deaths.

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