Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®, helps get end-of-life and funeral planning conversations started with a light touch on a serious subject.

Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death

Gail Rubin, CT, The Doyenne of Death®

As an award-winning speaker, she uses humor and funny film clips to attract people to topics many would rather avoid: taking care of advance medical directives, estate planning and funeral planning. She is an active member of the National Speakers Association serving as the 2019-2020 president of the New Mexico Chapter, and is active in Toastmasters International.

Gail pioneered the Death Cafe movement in the United States. She hosted the first Death Cafe west of the Mississippi in Albuquerque, New Mexico in September, 2012.

She also held the first Before I Die Festival west of the Mississippi in October, 2017. Her 2018 Before I Die New Mexico Festival won the ICCFA’s KIP Award for Best Event. In 2019, she introduced one-day Before I Die Festivals, hosted by funeral homes and cemeteries.

In 2020, Gail became president of the nonprofit organization that supports Historic Fairview Cemetery in Albuquerque, NM. The cemetery, established in 1881, is the final resting place of approximately 12,000 people, reflecting the history and development of Albuquerque, New Mexico and the United States.

The author of three books on end-of-life issues and creator of The Newly-Dead Game®, she also hosts the award-winning TV/DVD series, A Good Goodbye, as well as an Internet radio program. For those who don’t know what a doyenne is, her moniker The Doyenne of Death refers to a woman who’s considered senior in a group and knows a lot about a particular subject.

Her award-winning book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, provides everything you never knew you needed to know about funeral planning and brings light to a dark subject. She also co-authored Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies Templates and Tips with Susan Fraser, and the award-winning Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die.

2019 Women of Influence logoAlbuquerque Business First recognized her with their 2019 Women of Influence Award.

Rubin is a Certified Thanatologist (CT), a designation awarded by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC). The designation Certified in Thanatology: Death, Dying and Bereavement is a fancy name for a death educator.

She is also a Certified Celebrant, a Life Tribute professional personally trained by Doug Manning and Glenda Stansbury of the In-Sight Institute, the leading U.S. organization that trains Funeral Celebrants.

Gail is also a public relations professional and event planner. She has more than 30 years of experience creating many memorable life cycle events, and coordinating large festivals and conferences.

Many people are shocked to discover how expensive funerals can be. Gail became a licensed insurance agent to help people fund their “good goodbyes” by introducing them to the concept of final expense and pre-need insurance.

Gail is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. She volunteers with the Chevra Kaddisha, a group that ritually prepares the bodies of Jews for burial, and she serves on the cemetery committee for her synagogue.

Rubin is a breast cancer survivor who began her cancer journey in the summer of 2008. She observes, “Nothing reminds you of your own mortality more than a brush with something as serious and transforming as cancer.”

For a different take on Gail Rubin, read her draft obituary here.

How Did She Start Doing This?

Gail Rubin got married for the second time in 2000. She and her husband had a very creative Jewish-Western wedding. There was a handmade quilt for the wedding canopy, a reception in a converted barn with sawdust on the floor, featuring a BBQ buffet and a Western swing band, and guests were asked to wear their finest Western wear.

Everyone had such a good time, Gail was inspired to write a book about creative life cycle events and call it “Matchings, Hatchings and Dispatchings.” The book was to focus on the key life cycle events of weddings, births and deaths.

As the author of a monthly Albuquerque Tribune feature by that name, she found that the stories on death and funerals elicited the greatest reader response. Sensing a pressing need for information on the topic, she focused on funerals, resulting in her first book, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die.

It changed the course of her career, from PR and event planning to pioneering death educator. She started The Family Plot Blog, a chipper online resource to provide the information, inspiration and tools to pre-plan a healing and meaningful funeral or memorial service.

In addition to her Tribune column, articles by and about Rubin have appeared in American Funeral Director Magazine, ICCFA Magazine (trade magazine for the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association), Funeral Business Advisor, The Albuquerque Journal, New Mexico Magazine, Albuquerque The Magazine, Enchantment, Catholic Digest, Momentum Magazine, The New Mexico Jewish Link, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Prime Time, and other publications.

Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death, Funeral Expert is listed in the Yearbook of Experts at

Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death, Funeral Expert, is listed at

A Good Goodbye