The Art of Dying Institute


When we launched the first Art of Dying conference in the spring of 1995 with our friends Tibet House we had little idea that, not only would The Open Center be engaged with this vital theme for a quarter of a century, but that our efforts would evolve into an Institute offering in-depth certificate programs and courses throughout the year. It has been our good fortune to pioneer holistic approaches to the end of life, and today we offer a broad range of innovative practices with leading teachers.

Now, as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, death has rarely been as pervasive and tragic in American society, and the need for holistic and innovative approaches to dying is greater than ever.

This unique virtual event celebrates the increasingly effective and widespread emergence of fresh spiritual and practical approaches both to living and dying. The intense demands of the present moment require us also to also look to the future:

  • What are the new healthy and transformative approaches to working with the dying?
  • How can we and our families best prepare for death, and how do we lessen the fear associated with it?
  • How does living with an awareness of the reality and inevitability of death enhance our ability to live full lives?


The Art of Dying Institute, an initiative of The Open Center, is dedicated to fostering an engaged community of practitioners; researchers & scholars; educators; front-line innovators; partners; and investors to address the need for a cultural awakening around the theme of death and our mortality, how we die and the consequences for how we live.


The next session of the Certificate in the Art of Dying: Integrative Thanatology training is February 18, 2022 – June 19, 2022

The goal of the program is to reframe our current conception of dying and reclaim the wisdom and practices of the past. It provides health care practitioners, and those with a profound interest in the energetics of living and dying, with a unique set of skills to deepen their understanding of the spiritual, psychological, social and physical aspects of the dying experience.

Click HERE for complete program details.

The Art of Dying Institute

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Francesca Arnoldy

Francesca Arnoldy is the developer and Program Director of the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine’s End-of-Life Doula Professional Certificate Program.

Rev. Olivia Bareham

Rev. Olivia Bareham, a certified death midwife, home funeral guide and celebrant with degrees in Education, Natural Theology and Sacred Healing,

Claire Bidwell Smith

Claire Bidwell Smith is a therapist specializing in grief and the author of three books including Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief.

Leslie Blackhall, MD,

Leslie Blackhall, MD, is Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Humanities at the University of Virginia Medical Center and Director of its Palliative Care Services.

Jan Booth MA, RN,

Jan Booth MA, RN, has worked as a nurse for many years at the intersection of quality of life and end of life, as a hospice/palliative care nurse and as an end-of-life coach and educator.

Tashel C. Bordere

Tashel C. Bordere, PhD, CT, Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science and State Extensions Specialist (Youth Development), at the University of Missouri-Columbia

Anthony P. Bossis, PhD,

Anthony P. Bossis, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine conducting FDA-approved research with the psychedelic compound psilocybin since 2009.

Corinne A. Carey, Esq.

Corinne A. Carey, Esq., is the Senior State Director for New York and New Jersey for Compassion and Choices (C&C).

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.

Catharine DeLong is a certified music-thanatologist, tending to the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of palliative patients with her harp and voice. She provides music-thanatology sessions, as well as chaplaincy services to hospice patients in Salt Lake City.

Jeanne Denney

Jeanne Denney, MA, is a body psychotherapist, educator, hospice worker and author of The Effects of Compassionate Presence on the Dying.

Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson, MSN, CRNP, is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner who provides palliative care in Johns Hopkins’ Pediatric ICU.

Rev. Kat Kowalski

Rev. Kat Kowalski, MDiv, BCC, the Neonatal ICU Chaplain at Johns Hopkins, spearheads that hospital’s perinatal palliative care program.

Frank Ostaseski
Frank Ostaseski is an internationally respected Buddhist teacher and visionary cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project, and founder of the Metta Institute.

Cora Welsh

Cora Welsh, 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.


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