Los Alamos native and LAHS alumna Genna Reeves is set to share her insights on end of life and grief issues at the upcoming Before I Die New Mexico Festival, which will be held at various locations around Albuquerque Oct. 16-21. Courtesy photo
BEFORE I DIE FESTIVAL NEWS RELEASE
Grief and death touch us all at some point in our lives, yet navigating this complex terrain can be overwhelming without support. For Genna Reeves, Ph.D., a 2002 graduate of Los Alamos High School, helping individuals find healing amidst loss has become a calling.
Born and raised in Los Alamos and the daughter of Frank and Margaret Reeves, Genna’s connection to end-of-life and grief support runs deep. As a student at LAHS, she joined the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention and Awareness organization, later serving as its President. Her efforts included facilitating Survivor of Suicide support groups and hosting community events that provided solace to a community that was grappling with multiple youth suicides.
Years later, Genna’s journey led her back to both New Mexico and grief. Reeves trained to be a death doula with the International End of Life Doula Association and established her private practice, Invictus by Genna: Grief and Loss Services, in the Albuquerque area in 2022.
“I named my business after my favorite poem – one I discovered in Cheryl Roth’s English class at LAHS. There is a line that states, ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.’ I think that this embodies the power of personal choice in end-of-life decisions and planning.”
In a society where the subject of death often remains shrouded in discomfort, Genna aims to demystify the role of a death doula. This includes creating legacy projects, advance care planning, end-of-life planning, providing respite care, funeral/celebration of life planning, and celebrant services.
Genna also became the New Mexico Community Liaison for HeartLight Center, a grief support and education non-profit based in Denver, Colorado, in 2023, and trained with renowned grief expert David Kessler to become a Certified Grief Educator. She now offers individual and group grief peer support both virtually and in person.
Genna is dedicated to fostering connections with others regarding end-of-life and grief issues. An upcoming opportunity to engage in discussions about these topics is the 6th annual Before I Die New Mexico Festival, scheduled to take place from October 16 to 21, 2023 at various locations around Albuquerque. Genna is set to share her insights on two panels: “Death Doula 101” and “Understanding Grief.” The latter panel aims to illuminate the often-misunderstood aspects of grief, dispelling prevalent misconceptions, delving into the various types and stages of grief, and offering guidance on supporting individuals navigating loss. The “Death Doula 101” session will also include fellow New Mexico death doulas Danielle Slupesky and Alix Peters, focusing on the ways that death doulas can assist in providing support at the end of life and beyond.
The festival, a brainchild of New Mexico’s Gail Rubin, known as The Doyenne of Death® and a Certified Thanatologist, promises an eclectic mix of activities designed to inspire meaningful reflections on life, mortality, and the human experience. Rubin, also the festival’s coordinator, emphasizes the importance of confronting mortality, stating, “Death is a natural part of life, and by confronting our mortality, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the time we have and make the most of it.”
The Before I Die New Mexico Festival offers a unique space for attendees to engage in these crucial conversations, celebrate life, and gain education on preparing for death. Selected sessions, including the panels featuring Reeves, will have a virtual attendance option, ensuring accessibility for those unable to attend in person. Rubin shared, “When I spoke in Los Alamos a few years ago, there was great interest in planning ahead. If coming to Albuquerque is a challenge, I hope people will take advantage of the Zoom option for many Festival panel discussions and speakers.” The public can join select sessions, including these two panels, for free at the following link if not able to make it in person: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88973735401.
These panels are just one facet of the diverse festival lineup. Attendees can immerse themselves in a week-long exploration featuring mortality movies, engaging speakers, behind-the-scenes tours of funeral homes and cemeteries, and even a comedy performance in a funeral home by comedian Ben Wasserman.
A full schedule and tickets for the festival are available at https://beforeidiefestivals.com/before-i-die-new-mexico-festival-2023-schedule/, with a portion of the proceeds supporting Historic Fairview Cemetery.
About the Organizers: The Before I Die New Mexico Festival is organized by a passionate team dedicated to promoting meaningful conversations about life and mortality. Sponsors include A Good Goodbye, French Funerals & Cremations, Sunset Memorial Park, Passages International, and Keeper Memorials.