The Collective

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Lauren Carroll

Funeral Director &

Co-Founder of Deathwives

Lauren is a green funeral director at Return to Nature Funeral Home, a home funeral advocate, and educator. She has been called to death and dying her whole life and continues to to honor this passion through her volunteer work in hospice. serving on the board of directors for the National Home Funeral Alliance, and creating connections  between funeral homes, home funeral educators, death doulas and the families and community we serve.

Erin Merelli

End of Life Doula & Ceremonialist

Co-Founder Deathwives

Erin is an end of life doula ceremonialist, and co-founder of Deathwives.  She is called to  hold space around the sacred process of death, and create ceremony to honor the dying person and their family.   Erin is available for private end-of-life doula care, workshops & classes,  memorial ceremonies and officiating.  Reach her at

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Jon Hallford

Funeral Director

Owner of Return to Nature Funeral Home 

Jon is the owner of Return to Nature Funeral Homes, two completely GREEN funeral homes located in Penrose and Colorado Springs CO. Jon is an advocate for Natural Burial  and aquamation, and is a 3rd generation Funeral Director. 

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Ryan James

Counselor, Ceremonialist, Death Doula, and Ritualist

As a counselor and end of life doula Ryan brings his experience in the spiritual and the emotional relationships of death together for families and those experiencing the next journey of spirit. An officiant, ceremonialist, and ritualist focused on the spirit and souls journey - Ryan is available for those looking for guidance in navigating the transition of death. Rooted in the belief that death is a natural part of the life cycle and it is in grief were the living suffer. Through ritual, ceremony, and remembrance Ryan believes the dead continue to live on. 

You can reach Ryan via email at:

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Kelsi Tesone Matthews

Funeral Director

Owner of In Memoriam

Kelsi graduated Mortuary school in 2008. She currently sits on many education boards and is the owner and operator at In Memoriam, a funeral parlor and crematory in Broomfield, Colorado. She strives to offer unique and specialized care to every family. She supports the death positive revolution, home funerals, and can accommodate green options.


Tawnya Musser

Home Funeral Guide, Celebrant, & EOLD

Tawnya, founder of Dear Departures, and member of NEDA and the NHFA, trained with the Conscious Dying Institute, the Celebrant Foundation & Institute, and under local mentors, to be well versed in her offerings of end-of-life care and home funeral support, education, and guidance.  As a Life-Cycle Celebrant® specializing in funerals, she custom-crafts living funerals, memorials, celebrations-of-life, pet memorials, and community events.


Melissa Unfred

Modern Mortician 

Funeral Industry Disruptor

Melissa N. Unfred is a dual licensed funeral professional undertaking progressive death care at Green Cremation Texas. She provides unique insight into the Funeral Service Industry with a lens of over 20 years observation and participation, and advocates for those desiring a different approach to caring for their own.


She is shadowed by her sidekick,

Kermit the Dog, who in March of 2017 became the first certified therapy dog working in funeral service in the State of Texas. Melissa and Kermit serve their community and present often to Non-Profit Organizations and Educators across the country both in person and online.

Dr. Rachael Nolan

Assistant Professor, College of Medicine

Certified in Grief Recovery and Gerontology 

Dr. Nolan is a highly trained public health professional, certified in grief recovery and gerontology who has served as an advocate for the behavioral health needs of grieving individuals and their families. She specializes in understanding the unique social determinants of well-being experienced by underserved and medically disadvantaged communities, older adults, LGBTQ* folk, and the differently-abled. Throughout her career, Dr. Nolan has worked in the fields of Prevention Science, Thanatology, Health Education and Health Promotion for several organizations. She became certified in Public Health after receiving her MPH in Social Behavioral Science from Kent State University. Prior to receiving her MPH, Dr. Nolan graduated from Kent State University with a B.S. in Public Health Education and Promotion, with a minor in LGBTQ* studies. Dr. Nolan also received her Ph.D. from Kent State University in Prevention Science. Currently, Dr. Nolan is in the College of Medicine at the University of Cincinnati where she serves as Assistant Professor, teaching, conducting research, and developing curriculum in the accredited, MPH program.

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Vanessa Johnston

End Of Life Doula 

Vanessa Johnston has been an End of Life Doula in the Denver metro area since 2017. She has been trained and is pursuing certification through the International End of Life Doula Association. She offers individualized and intersectional emotional and spiritual support for people and their loved ones experiencing palliative and/or hospice care. Her passion is to help those who are dying approach their final milestone with love and meaning instead of fear and anxiety. She seeks to be a compassionate companion and serve as a witness in sacred service to honor the final chapter in other’s stories. She specializes in life review, vigil planning, and legacy projects. You can reach Vanessa by email at or on Facebook

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Erin Custer

Hospice Nurse

End of Life Educator at

Universal Pathways

For years, the professionals of Universal Pathways have cared for End of Life patients and their families. We provide a collaborative curriculum that offers perspective deeper than our traditional education provided us. Years of combined experience, we each have come along our own path in the medical field realizing that there has to be better support for the dying and bereaved. The End of Life Specialist Certification facilitates attainable career opportunities and provides medical professionals and caregivers the skills that are not taught in traditional education. Every program that Universal Pathways offers enhances and expands the futures for all of our students as the lives they will reach in life and death will be powerfully influenced. We provide End of Life education for individuals, hospices, hospitals and providers that encounter death and dying.

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