Community storytelling that explores the universal experience of death and dying.

Gail Rubin speaking at the Fairview Cemetery; with dia de los muertos skulls in the foreground

Cemetery Stories is a story slam event that invites community members to share their experiences of loss, grief, memorial and signs of life found amongst it all. The program highlights Albuquerque’s Historic Fairview Cemetery with an oral history walking tour featuring presentations on notable historic figures of New Mexico at their grave sites. Presented in partnership with Fairview, Cemetery Stories seeks to strengthen the community’s relationship to the historic site and to one another through this shared human experience.

The first iteration of Cemetery Stories in 2021 took place on Dia de los Muertos with several community members sharing beautiful thoughts and memories of their loved ones amongst the candlelit tombs. In 2022 Cemetery Stories was expanded to include more history from our program partner Historic Fairview Cemetery. A historical walking tour route was established in the cemetery with scholars set up at different notable memorials giving talks on the history of those interred at the sites. Histories given in 2022 included a discussion about the Buffalo Soldiers from New Mexico who fought in the U.S. Civil War, delivered by Demetrius Brandon, member of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club of New Mexico; a chautauqua lecture on Reverend Thomas Harwood, delivered by Rev. Will Steinsiek.

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Cemetery Stories: Life, Death and Beyond is a chapbook published in May 2023 by the New Mexico Humanities Council. It features select stories from the first two story slams that took place at Historic Fairview Cemetery. This book serves as a document and artifact for the program through recording and publishing the personal reflections and memorials told by the storytellers.

Our chapbook is available for free by request. Educators and community organizers would benefit from having this book in their space to facilitate open conversation about death and dying. The ongoing purpose of Cemetery Stories is to bring death out of the taboo so that our relationship to mortality and one another are fortified through a greater understanding of this universal experience.

You can request your free copy of Cemetery Stories: Life, Death & Beyond.



In an exceedingly diverse world with as many lived experiences as there are people in the world, there is one experience that is both individual and universal at the same time: the experience of the end of life. Across the world we see different cultures approach this universal experience in unique and powerful ways that intersect geography, ecology, and layers of civilizational crossover. To learn about the different customs and traditions related to death and dying is to open the mind toward all the different perspectives on this shared experience. The articles below were contributed by individuals from around the state. If you would like to contribute an article reflecting on your family’s customs, traditions and cultural perspectives related to death and dying please contact K. Michelle Quisenberry. Visit our staff directory for contact information.