A Night on

Buddy's Bench

an evocative story about love, grief and finding peace at the end of life

In this time of social isolation, our ability to hold both our feelings of loss and the preciousness of life is a spiritual calling we’re all facing.
As many of you know, the texts I’ve created explore the beauty and brevity of life and have been used by Hospice staff and volunteers nationally and internationally in
the last few years in their work with families and individuals.

I am now offering free copies of the books and the film I developed so that anyone
and everyone has access to these resources during these challenging times.

Additionally, I am launching a new artistic project called Hearts Quarantined, which will be a daily heart meditation for these times.

To access these free resources click on the free download button next to each resource. I look forward to hear about your experience. Thank you.

My family and I wish you continued safety, health and peace.

A Night on Buddy's Bench 
Pilgrim Guide
Hearts Quarantined Volume I II III & IV
“ Through your writing, doodles, and voice you offer a clear and sensitive view of our world and vision of what it can be. Thank you for sharing your heart and thus giving us space in which to share ours.”
Venice Peace Project, Venice, Florida
Spirit Calling

Finding Peace on Buddy’s Bench

In hope of solving the ultimate mystery "why do we die?" an Old Man ventures out late at night to Buddy’s bench, drawn by rumors of its kind resident Spirit. Unsure what he believes or where to begin, he experiences a profound realization that fills his heart with peace.
A Night on Buddy's Bench is a picture book and audio CD designed to help initiate end-of-life conversations that can comfort both the living and the dying. With its heart-felt words and beautiful watercolors, A Night on Buddy's Bench is perfect for sharing with family members or friends ho are in hospice or dealing with loss or for contemplative reading. 
Excerpt from A Night on Buddy's Bench
“Recently, I had the opportunity to review your book. Needless to say, your writing is absolutely breathtaking. The symbols used in the book allowed me take a step back and really look into what was being shared about his life, his peace, and his death. I would love the opportunity to share this with our volunteers, and families in order to help them gain a better understanding.”
- Betty J Dunsmoor 
Oswego County Hospice Volunteer / Bereavement Coordinator
Director of Camp Rainbow of Hope

Read our book review on Full Circle, by Circle of Friends for the Dying

“Very few of us are spared a journey through the wilderness of grief in this life. Your inspired, brave, compassionate guidebook is going to be a comfort to many on their journeys. Thank you for this beautiful gift you have given the world, and thank you for letting us be among the first to appreciate it.
Your efforts are a blessed service to humanity.”
- Leonard Perlmutter 
Author of Art and Science of Yoga – Empowering Self Care Program for a Happy, Healthy, and Joyful Life 
Founder and Director, American Meditation Institute

Spirit Calling

This short film introduces the spirit that inhabits the bench - what we might find when we are called to face, find meaning in, and be transformed by our grief.

A Pilgrim’s Way through Grief –

A Guide to A Night on Buddy’s Bench

A Pilgrim’s Way through Grief is a collaboration with the Hospice Palliative Care Association of New York State. (HPCANYS). The guide in Section One (The Journey) explores the story of Buddy’s Bench and the author’s own experiences in facing grief as a pilgrimage. Section Two (The Practice) explores ways to use Buddy’s Bench in one-on-one encounters, groups sessions, and as a springboard for journaling and artistic expressions as forms of healing.
To read HPCANYS endorsement, click here.

The Journal

A small journal booklet (60 pages) designed for Pilgrims to record and/or draw about their experience of being called to the bench, to face one’s own or another death … being on the bench wrestling with loss and grief, making meaning and … returning from the bench, transformed, holding grief and gratitude together...

"My mom died in December, my dad seemed to be in declined ... A Night on Buddy’s Bench led my soul, and inspired me to write." -Reader
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"Artists are moved to depict Grief as a woman: the goddess Demeter crying for Persephone, the hooded figure by Augustus Saint-Gaudens for the Adams Memorial. In this tradition, the photographer Jenny Zander has created unforgettable images of the emotional complexities of grief, personified by Nadine Baumgarten against compelling lakeside landscape and a narrative sound-scape. The scenes are beautifully staged - both the model and her surrounds painted and arranged to achieve transcendence. The voice-over poem by Ira Baumgarten invokes acceptance of the gift of grief … this film is a gift for all whose grieving is fresh, or deeply embedded." 
-Diane DeBlois
Editor, Ephemera Journal, Postal History Journal

Buddy's Bench collaborates with National Hospice Foundation

National Hospice Palliative Care Organization endorsement:

Author Ira Baumgarten Offers Free Grief and Bereavement Resources

Hearts Quarantined

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Volume I & II

Hearts Quarantined Volume I and II explores the questions:
What if we leaned in and led with our hearts? What would we


I started heart doodles as a daily morning gift to my wife Nadine. The practice slowly grew into a form of meditation. I cannot draw a straight line or copy any form with accuracy. The heart form allowed me to be playful and tap into a non- linear part of myself. I loved not knowing what would be drawn and what text would be found hidden beneath the picture. There are a few blank pages at the end of each book for you to do your own heart doodles. They do not need to take a form of the traditional heart shape. The only requirement is that you lean in with your heart. 

Volume III

Can our hearts honor that we have a collective debt to right?

Can we remember that our hearts sustain life?

Black Hearts Matter invites us on a soul journey to be both patient and steadfast in our quest. Time matters.

Volume IV

Grief and Resilience offer blessings for our tired souls. The lap of our spirit is a sacred place where grief and gratitude can sit and be held together. Much like how we hold a child crying until their smile returns. One does not diminish the other. 

Peace, Ira

"I loved your book, Heart Quarantined! It is rich with treasures to pause and reflect on before moving on. A 'tiny' but full book. I loved reading it."
So powerful. I love the illustrations and the text. Your words are so powerful, the images so real. Simplicity, kindness - all kinds of love on each page." 

Hearts Doodle Installation

Arts Letters & Numbers Third Thursday Exhibit

January 2020

Ira mounted 20 original Heart Doodles for Art Letters & Numbers' Third Thursday Exhibit. 

Several were given to interested patrons.

A Heart Doodle Station was sent up were folks created their own heart doodles.

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“Thank you, Ira, for the lovely offering.  Beautiful. Provocative.


Perhaps, it is only the body that is quarantined—perhaps, the heart cannot be quarantined as it moves through time and space, unencumbered by the limits of matter … perhaps what really matters is not matter at all.”

Ellen Ketchum, MSW and Movement Therapist