Pioneering Death Educator Gail Rubin Receives ADEC Community Educator Award

Funeral Industry News Funeral Industry Press Releases April 16, 2024
Gail Rubin

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Pioneering Death Educator Gail Rubin Receives ADEC Community Educator Award

Albuquerque-based death educator Gail Rubin, CT, was recognized by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) with their prestigious Community Educator Award at the organization’s annual conference in Houston on April 11, 2024.

ADEC’s Community Educator Award honors an individual in a non-academic setting with expertise in the field of thanatology, the study of death, dying and bereavement. The award recognizes excellence in developing community focused teaching materials and events that are innovative and cutting edge. Jakob van Wielink, Partner at the Netherlands’ De School voor Transitie (The School for Transition) presented the award.

Gail Rubin, a Certified Thanatologist known as the Doyenne of Death®, has created and facilitated numerous community death education events and materials:

  • She was one of the first people to hold a Death Cafe in the United States in September of 2012 and continues to hold them monthly. Today, more than 17,908 Death Cafes have been held in 89 countries, providing a forum for people to openly discuss questions and concerns about mortality.
  • Rubin has fostered and promoted the Before I Die Festival concept to encourage people to engage with funeral homes, cemeteries, and other end-of-life businesses without having to experience a death in the family.
  • She created the Newly-Dead® Game and Newly-Dead® Bingo to provide a fun way to teach the public about end-of-life issues and plan ahead.
  • She offers guidance on holding Before I Die Festivals with a book and toolkit, the Before I Die Festival in a Box™.
  • Rubin produced a range of videos, including on her YouTube channel, @GailRubin, and hosted the A Good Goodbye TV interview program.
  • She also hosts The Doyenne of Death Podcast, with interviews about death, grief, funerals, and mortality.
  • Rubin is working on an upcoming TV series, Mortality Movies. This will be a series of 30-minute programs that include clips from films and television programs with lessons on planning for end-of-life issues. It features discussions between the Doyenne of Death and death doulas/grief experts Genna Reeves, Ph.D., and Danielle Slupesky.

Rubin has scheduled the next Before I Die New Mexico Festival, to take place in the Albuquerque area November 1-4, 2024. French Funerals & Cremations and Keeper Virtual & Hybrid Memorial Services are the first festival sponsors to participate.

“My motto is – Talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead. I’ve been talking about death for 15 years, and so far, so good,” joked Rubin. She is known for using humor to break down resistance to end-of-life planning.

She added, “Even though humans have a 100% guarantee of death, less than 30% of adults make advance end-of-life plans. You can only laugh about death when it seems like a distant possibility. I’m working to change up the percentage who make advance plans, to reduce stress at a time of grief, help people save money, and create a good goodbye.”

 In 2023, the deaths of Rubin’s husband and father gave her real-life stories to share about the benefits of preneed funeral planning. She is writing about her experiences in her fifth book on end-of-life topics. She’s the author of these award-winning books:

  • A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die
  • Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips
  • Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die
  • The Before I Die Festival in a Box™

In her award letter of recommendation, Althea Halchuck, founder of Ending Well Patient Advocacy, LLC, said, “I have seen, first-hand, the impact of Gail’s community education events among professionals and the general public. She uses film clips and audience participation in her presentations and makes the topics of death, dying, and bereavement accessible, understandable, and surprisingly fun.”

Genna Reeves, Ph.D., Certified Grief Educator, Death Doula and Community Liaison for HeartLight Center, added in her letter, “She presents information in a way that is accessible, fun, related to popular culture and current events, and supportive…. Even more impressive, Gail has used her personal experiences of death and grief to educate the New Mexico community about what can ease stress during these difficult times.”

Learn more about Gail Rubin and her work at and