When it comes to death and dying, we’re sure creativity and celebration are not the first things you think of. But this month’s first-ever Reimagine End of Life festival strives to change your mindset.
“In thinking about end of life, a lot of the conversation pertains to logistics, like planning, and it often feels very sterile. The idea was to bring some heart, emotion and love back into the conversation — and that really starts with connecting in person,” Founder/Executive Director Brad Wolfe told Metro.
Reimagine End of Life held its first full-fledged festival in San Francisco in April, with 10,000 people attending 175 events. The New York version will offer more than 250 events at theaters, hospitals, libraries, houses of worship, cemeteries and even tattoo shops across the five boroughs from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3.
“To be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a morbid affair or how it would feel, but it turned out as an attendee myself and seeing the reactions of everyone else, it was cathartic and authentic and humorous and poignant,” Wolfe said. “It felt like something that needed to continue and have a life of its own.”
“It’s a chance to think: What if this isn’t the only thing that united us? It’s a place to start, it’s a heavy place, but it’s something that can really bring people together and really get to the essence of what makes their lives worth living,” he added. “When you think about death, it humanizes all of us. Why can’t we put these petty differences aside? What really matters?”
A sampling of Reimagine End of Life New York events
New York’s Reimagine End of Life festival will feature hundreds of events centered around death and dying that range from comedy nights and film screenings to workshops, talks and much more.
Highlights include a discussion with The New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, who wrote a best-selling book about her aging parents; a master class by Green-Wood Cemetery educator Amy Cunningham on writing the perfect condolence letter; a workshop for writing your own obituary at Vision Space NYC; and a look at the immortal art of tattooing at Rising Dragon Tattoos.
Reimagine End of Life kicks off Oct. 27 at Merkin Hall at Kaufman Music Center with performances by current National Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, comedian Chris Garcia, Craig Minowa of Cloud Cult, storytellers, dancers and more.
And while you might not know how your final hours will be, Reimagine End of Life New York will close Nov. 3 with a performance by Chadwick Stokes and Brad Corrigan of Dispatch at Le Poisson Rouge.
Plus, artist Day Schildkret will “create a concept around impermanent earth art and how to use objects found in nature to think about decay and our own impermanence during the performance,” Wolfe said.
Visit letsreimagine.org to learn more about the Reimagine End of Life festival, or check out the video below.