Sara Murphy, PhD, CT

Death educator, certified thanatologist, and suicidologist
University of Rhode Island, Marian University
Kingston, Rhode Island
Website | LinkedIn

Dr. Sara Murphy is a death educator, certified thanatologist (Association for Death Education and Counseling), and suicidologist with fifteen years of scholarly, pedagogical, and professional experience in the field. She is a faculty member at the University of Rhode Island and an affiliate faculty member in the Thanatology Graduate Program at Marian University. Publicly, Sara conducts professional development and educational workshops and seminars on specialized topics of death, dying, and bereavement nationwide for businesses, schools, and professional organizations. Sara is also a suicide and bereavement consultant, an expert witness on disenfranchised grief and on suicide, a contributing writer for the National Funeral Directors Association, and the author of the booklet, “Grieving Alone & Together: Responding to the Loss of Your Loved One during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” a free resource for helping professionals and individuals published by the Funeral Service Foundation. 

What inspires you to do this work?
“I have been passionate about topics of death, dying, and bereavement since returning to college in my mid-twenties and taking the right course at the right time. I am fascinated by the body of theory and scholarly knowledge in thanatology, but my passion lies in applying that knowledge to teaching university students and serving the public. Death and grief are universal experiences, yet they are frequently the most undiscussed in our culture. I take every opportunity to break silences and stigmas surrounding dying and grieving and give tools to those who are working through their grief to navigate their journeys more meaningfully and helpfully.”

What famous dead person would you like to have lunch with and why?
“My best friend and I first became obsessed with The Beatles as high school freshmen. I would absolutely love to have lunch with John Lennon – there would be many cups of tea!”

How do you want to be remembered?
“At the end of my life, I would like to have been a person worthy of being remembered as an empathic educator, a fierce social justice warrior, and an advocate for those in need of support. Ultimately, I believe the value of my life is in the degree to which future survivors can say that their lives were better for having known me, and this is a value toward which I actively strive.”

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