Good to Go!: Woman conducts parties designed to take stigma, sadness out of death

Death, dying and grief are hard things to talk about, but one Ohio native wants to get rid of the stigma surrounding these inevitable life events and get prepared for them.

Amy Pickard, who now lives in Los Angeles, was born in Dayton, graduated from Wright State and has worked in TV for many years in London, New York and Chicago. Beyond working in TV, she also runs a business called Good to Go!, and she is trying to make conversations surrounding death easier.

“If you could take a pill that would help you in your grief, everyone would take it because it’s the deepest, most cosmic pain that you’ll ever feel,” she said. “What I’m trying to get across to people is that advance planning is that pill and it’s going to make grieving easier, less stressful, less traumatizing and it transmutes the energy.”

After her mom’s death in 2012, Pickard was faced with taking care of her mother’s arrangements for everything. She had a lot of questions about bills, online accounts, passwords, bank accounts and her personal belongings. There were no instructions for Pickard to follow.

“I’ve had deaths in my family, but nothing as traumatizing as my mom’s. I didn’t even know the name of the electric company when I walked into her condo in Chicago. That was just one of the million questions I had,” she said.

So Pickard decided to come up with a solution. She created a Departure File, which is a guidebook that a person fills out while they are still living, so that their finances, belongings and accounts can be wrapped up upon death. Pickard refers to these as “death duties.”

“The death duties are a hellscape of responsibilities that every survivor has to work with. You have to close out your dead person’s life, and that’s not a quick job. It’s especially not a quick job if you haven’t prepared in any way, shape or form,” she said.

To get people on board with filling out the Departure File, Pickard began having Good To Go! Parties, or as some attendees have described them, “death Tupperware parties.” The death-themed parties include a potluck where everyone brings a dish from a loved one who has died. Of course, there is also booze and even a death-themed soundtrack.

“How can I get this across to people but in a fun way? I thought to do it as a workshop under the party guise. I’ll have everyone bring alcohol because if you are going to talk about the hard stuff, you have to drink the hard stuff,” she said.

Pickard’s first party was in Dayton in a yoga studio owned by her friend. It was mainly attended by friends and family of Pickard. Her father came and filled out the Departure File at one of the parties as well. Pickard said the goal of the parties is to make death more of a positive thing to discuss.

“For three hours we just nosh. We drink, we cuss, we discuss and go over the Departure File. I give out all the information and nobody leaves the party sad, depressed or upset. They are all like ‘I’m alive!’ They feel so relieved that they are not dying at that second and also that they have this information because they don’t want to leave their loved ones in a mess,” she said.

Pickard has traveled across the country throwing these death parties, and she said that the response she gets from people is always positive. Pickard had to handle the arrangements after her grandmother and father died. When her father died in 2016, she said that since he had filed out his Departure File, they could just enjoy their final moments together.

“It was absolutely just love. I got to say to him, the privilege of a lifetime has been to be your daughter, and thank you, and I love you. To be able to say that and be rock solid in knowing what he would’ve wanted; that is just an eternal gift that I would have paid a million dollars for,” she said.

Pickard said she is going to continue traveling and throwing Good To Go! Parties. In the future, she said that she would like to expand the business and possibly open it up to corporations. She also said she’d like to help people with “legacy cleaning” or “future-proofing.” This means starting to clean out the house so loved ones do not have to do it all at once upon death. The point is to downsize before death. This could also be a way to bond with the still-living family member.

“It’s called continuing bonds. It is literally incorporating them into your daily routine. I am sitting on my mom’s couch right now. I have my dad’s cutting board. I know how to incorporate our loved ones into our daily lives in creative, nourishing ways,” she said.

In September, Pickard plans to be in Dayton and will be hosting some of her parties. If anyone wants to be part of the parties, there is a $150 fee for the party and Departure File. The Departure File can be purchased by itself for $100 on her website. Pickard does reiterate the fact that she is not a lawyer or a doctor; she just wants to take the stigma out of the death process.

“I’m just trying to make an awkward, stereotypically morbid subject a little more palatable. I’m kind of the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down,” she said.

More details

Anyone interested in attending a party may contact AmyPickard via email at Pickard also does private consultations for $200 per person. She will be in Dayton on Sept. 9-13. For more information, visit her website at

Credit: Chris West

Credit: Chris West

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