Pavilion in Sunset Memorial Park

Pavilion in Sunset Memorial Park

The inaugural Before I Die ABQ Festival, six days of activities held around Albuquerque, NM, drew 600 participants to 22 separate events between October 20 to 25, 2017. The festival offered free and low-cost upbeat activities for people to openly think about, talk about and do something about our 100% mortality rate.

The most popular events drew crowds of more than 50 to hear panel discussions with funeral directors and financial/legal advisors on “What You Need to Know Before You Go,” the movies HAROLD AND MAUDE and THE SEVENTH SEAL at the Guild Cinema, and a presentation and demonstration at the Jewish Community Center titled, “Jewish Burial Equals Green Burial.”

Historic Fairview Cemetery Tour

Historic Fairview Cemetery Tour

Other well-attended events included a walking tour of historic Fairview Cemetery (established in 1881), the “Prelude to Eternity” party in the Pavilion at Sunset Memorial Park, Death Cafe discussions, and tours of the Office of the Medical Investigator and the casket building workshop of the nonprofit organization Fathers Building Futures.

Festival coordinator Gail Rubin, CT, a pioneering death educator, award-winning author and TEDxABQ speaker, noted, “Over the course of the festival, so many people said, ‘Thank you for doing this.’ It’s so important to start honest conversations about end-of-life issues. These festival activities opened that door and answered plenty of questions.”

Before I Die festivals are part of a growing social movement to foster reflection about how we as individuals and as a society manage death and dying. Before I Die festivals have drawn thousands to events in Cardiff, Wales (UK), Indianapolis, IN, and Louisville, KY. Before I Die ABQ is the first such festival west of the Mississippi.

Before I Die Wall at CNM

Before I Die Wall at CNM

In a first for Albuquerque, two Before I Die walls were set up at the main campus of Central NM Community College (CNM), and in Sunset Memorial Park. Before I Die walls are part of a global art project that invites people to reflect on their lives and publicly share their personal aspirations. The panels at CNM filled up within days, drawing hundreds of responses that completely filled all three boards.

Hundreds of festival attendees entered a drawing for a free cremation provided by the Albuquerque office of The Neptune Society, a national company, and a “coff-urn” from The Old Pine Box, based in Edgewood, NM. Attendees will be surveyed on what they’d like to see in a second annual Before I Die ABQ Festival in 2018. Videos of panel discussions are available on TheFamilyPlot YouTube Channel.

The Before I Die ABQ Festival was made possible by these local and national sponsors:

A Good Goodbye, funeral planning for those who don’t plan to die;

French Funerals & Cremations, Albuquerque’s largest and oldest family-owned funeral service company;

The Neptune Society, America’s most trusted cremation service;

Lasting Legacy, Inc., providing estate and trust services to New Mexico families;

Express Legal Solutions, LLC, offering “documents you need at a price you can afford;”

Retirement Extender®, a team of specialists making the most of your finances;

Morris Hall, PLLC, a premier estate planning law firm;, practical guides for dealing with the inevitable by Peter Callan;

The Old Pine Box, specializing in pine and cedar coffins and caskets, and specialty urns;

My Final Checklist, a master file for personal information;

Zia Trust, Inc., serving clients in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and 38 other states;

1-800-AUTOPSY.COM, a thanatology specialty service company.

Festival partners included the nonprofit organizations Albuquerque Oasis, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of New Mexico, the Jewish Federation of New Mexico, Fathers Building Futures, and the YMCA of Central New Mexico. The Guild Cinema, Rio Bravo Brewery, Cooper Art Studio, the Albuquerque Tourism & Sightseeing Factory, Central New Mexico Community College, and the City of Albuquerque senior centers also hosted festival events.

Festival Sponsors