GriefSpace is an online gallery space that welcomes pilgrims. I will share thoughts, readings, and resources I've have found helpful in facing end-of-life issues and in grief work. Just as in an art museum, we will have visiting and permanent exhibits for your viewing. I invite readers and visitors to GriefSpace as if it were in a gallery to linger, view, contemplate and be inspired.
Please find thoughtful responses from our readers here.
I look forward to hearing from you here.
A Book and Film Release and Remembrance
On a cold Sunday afternoon the ALN studio was transformed into a sanctuary of remembrance bringing warmth and comfort to those who came to the book and film release event offered by Ira and Nadine Baumgarten.
Greeted at the door and guided up the staircase to the presentation space by photos of an embodied spirit, guests were welcomed to a Forest of Remembrance. The art installation was created by ALN Fellow, Keren Mendjul, and visiting Artist-in-Residence, Jenny Zander. Classical music was performed by Charlotte Hill, Ellie MacPhee, and Elizabeth Kate Hall-Keough, a trio from Oberlin College who were also Artists-in-Residence.
Reading portions from A Pilgrim’s Way through Grief – A Guide to a Night on
Buddy’s Bench, Ira invited attendees to join him on a pilgrimage of grief and loss.
Sometimes the first step of this journey is accepting the call to the bench where we decide to step toward, rather than away from grief. Once on the bench, we seek meaning from our grief, and finally, we return home holding grief and gratitude together as we continue to live our lives.
In their film, Spirit Calling, embodied spirit (Nadine Baumgarten) welcomes you to the bench:
she reminds you that
the gift of grief is a great mystery
when we face it
when we allow ourselves to
wrestle with it
when we allow grief to flow
it can release us to know
the rhythms of life
where strength and courage
can be found
“That was such a moving gathering, so alive with all energies and hearts in the
room... I am really touched by the whole story with all of its layers of lives and deaths, lights and leaves, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, friends, trees, lights and benches!”
Pilgrim’s Way through Grief Review
Very few of us are spared a journey through the wilderness of grief in this life. Your inspired, brave, compassionate guide book 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.
With love, respect and gratitude,
Leonard Perlmutter, American Meditation Institute
Buddy’s Bench Reviews
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, LMSW, ACSW, PhD
Oswego County Hospice Volunteer / Bereavement Coordinator
Director of Camp Rainbow of Hope
I just finished reading your book, and listening to the CD that came with it. I wanted to let you know how beautiful it was, and how meaningful and heartfelt. What you probably didn't realize it when you mailed it here to Charlotte, NC is that it was my big brother Jim that told me about it .... I am so grateful for your support of Hospice. They were fabulous in the final months of my father's life. I still miss him terribly - and the book gave me some comfort (especially, since his nickname with his family - was Buddy!).
- A Reader -
This Season's Visiting Contributor
Ever since hearing an interview with John O’Donohue on the On Being Podcast with Krista Tippet, I have been mesmerized by his poetic and accessible language of the soul. This interview more than any other talk, reading, or outside source, has given me a sense of pure joy, wonder and gratitude for the life we have.
I list below some of John O’Donohue’s poems and blessings that I have read that have been helpful for me, to stay in that place of deep grief, and receive solace.
On the Death of the Beloved
For the Dying
“When you realize that the dying person needs and depends on your words and
presence, it takes the focus off your limitation and frees you to become a
creative companion on the new journey. One of the most beautiful gifts you
could ever give is the gift of helping someone to die with dignity, graciousness
- Beauty the Invisible Embrace, John O'Donohue
To read the poems in full go to www.poemhunter.com and for more information on John O’Donohue go to www.johnodonhue.com
"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 to 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."
"I just finished reading your book, and listening to the CD that came with it. I wanted to let you know how beautiful it was, and how meaningful and heartfelt. I am so grateful for your support of Hospice. They were fabulous in the final months of my father's life. I still miss him terribly - and the book gave me some comfort (especially, since his nickname with his family - was Buddy!)"
"A multigenerational project that just keeps growing: For anyone grieving or if you know people who are grieving--or if you just enjoy a powerful story--my cousin Ira Baumgarten wrote an adult picture book (a great coffee table book) called A Night on Buddy's Bench - An End of Life Story. His mother-in-law created the beautiful art work, and I helped produce/direct an audio version with an incredible score and music composed by Nick Moore that is meditative, melodic and nothing short of audio theatre. The book and audio version has already been used by countless individuals and groups as a jumping off point for people to deal with grief. One of my childhood friends, Tara Zaffuto Mullins, worked with a filmmaker on a now award winning dance film inspired by the book. Art inspiring art!! Now, there's a GUIDE that delves deeper into losses and lessons from our family and how to deal with your own loss. In being Ira Baumgarten's editor, I encouraged him to share personal, funny and heartfelt stories of loss, including that of his brother. I'm so damn proud to be a part of this project!"
Sharon Cooper, playwright, filmmaker, producer
This short film introduces the spirit that inhabits the bench - what we might find when we are called to face, find meaning and to be transformed by our grief.
Click here to download a copy of the poem "Spirit Calling"
Above the Trees
Tara Mullins choreographed this dance film after reading A Night on Buddy’s Bench. About the film, she says, “The dance piece reflects the spirit of my grandmother, the dreams I have about her and the connection between her and my daughter that
is built on love.”
Memorial Community Project
CareFirst, a local hospice in Painted Post, New York, used A Night on Buddy’s Bench to create rituals to help very different communities, continents apart, heal from loss. Chelsea Ambrose, Director of Counseling Services and a Board member with the Bon Foundation, took a copy of the book to the Bon Tibetan Monastery in India to share with the student monks to help them grieve the loss of an elder spiritual leader. After sharing the story, students wrote blessings to their deceased leader on orange ribbons made from monk robes.
Inspired by Buddy’s Bench, Carly Nichols, Grief Services Manager, along with Chelsea from CareFirst, then made a Memorial Community Project. They partnered with the Art Council of the Southern Finger Lakes and had artists create a bench installation with a sculptured tree that would allow community members to sit and write a blessing or memory to a love one on similar ribbons and hang it on the tree, along with the ribbons from the students brought back from Tibet.
Buddy’s Bench Collaborates with National Hospice Foundation
Dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) is the largest nonprofit membership organization representing hospice and palliative care
programs and professionals in the United States. The organization is committed to improving end-of-life care and expanding access to hospice care with the goal of profoundly enhancing quality of life for people dying in America and their loved ones
National Hospice Foundation
NHF is the fundraising affiliate of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. As the national charity for end-of-life care, NHF is responsible for soliciting and stewarding charitable gifts received to National Hospice
No Veteran Dies Alone
Volunteer Program – US Veteran Administration
Music and Memory
Is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm through digital music technology, vastly improving quality of life
Hospice Foundation of America
Grief support information - what is hospice - how to choose a hospice
Medicare Hospice Benefits
Booklet to explain Medicare Hospice services
NHPCO Caring Info
Resource for families on grief and loss, advance care planning
Author of Die Wise
What’s Your Grief
Promotes grief education, exploration, and expression in both
practical and creative ways
Catching Your Breath in Grief...
and Grace Will Lead You Home
The Five Ways We Grieve: Finding Your Personal Path to Healing After the Loss of a Loved One
Susan A. Berger
It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok
Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for
Working Through Grief
Martha Whitmore Hickman
I’m Grieving as Fast as I Can