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We are dust, and to dust we shall return. Despite the fact that every human being will face death, very few take time to contemplate it, much less prepare for its obvious reality.

On the heels of Ash Wednesday, join us for a lively panel discussion with three local experts on death. We will learn about sustainable death practices, about spiritual and physical aspects of dying, and we may even find ways to reclaim the church’s role in caring for bodies in life and death.

Panelists:  Nancy McCranie, Emily Cross, Melissa Unfred

Date: March 7, 2019, 9-11 a.m.

Location: Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, McCord Community Center, Room 203
100 East 27th Street, Austin, 78705

Cost: $12 (breakfast included) 

Recommended for: pastors, chaplains, lay caregivers, social workers, counselors, and anyone interested in learning more about death.


We're sorry you missed this event!  Contact us here to be alerted to future workshops.

More About the Panelists


Nancy McCranie began working for Hospice Austin as a chaplain in 1996.  Since 2009 she has served as the Director of Volunteer and Bereavement Services.  The Bereavement Program offers a wide array of grief support services to the community including Camp Brave Heart, Surviving the Holidays, Grief Support Groups, Grief Webinars, individual counseling, and community bereavement education.  Nancy is a frequent speaker for area groups, leading discussions about end of life issues and the process of grieving a loss.  Nancy is an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and holds a M.Div. degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She is Chair of the Clinical Pastoral Education Committee at The Seton Family of Hospitals; a member of Mission Presbytery; and Parish Associate for the First Presbyterian Church, Elgin, Texas.  

Emily Cross is an end-of-life doula, musician, and artist living in Austin, TX. After graduating from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where her visual artwork centered around mortality and loss, she moved to Austin and quickly became integrated within the arts and music scene. In 2015 she decided to pursue a career serving the dying, and earned professional certifications from the University of Vermont and from Quality of Life Care. She established Steady Waves End of Life Services in 2017 and brings her unique set of skills to her work with the dying and their families. Emily is also the founder of Steady Waves Living Funeral Ceremonies, a transformative, immersive experience intended to spur serious reflection about mortality and life priorities.

Melissa Unfred is a Modern Mortician undertaking a change in death care for people and pets. She is a first generation Funeral Director/Embalmer and has been in and out of the “industry” for almost 20 years, fully licensed in Texas for the last 5 years. She is something of a rogue Funeral Director to a stale industry - passionate about empowering families to care for their own dead, and support home funerals and natural burial options, not just for humans, but their creature companions as well. In mid-2016, she partnered with a shelter rescue dog, and named him Kermit. Together they have become the 1st Certified Therapy Team working in Funeral Service in all of Texas.

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