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.


I look forward to hearing from you here.

Tributes to Ann Bonville Trombly

Illustrator – A Night on Buddy’s Bench

In Memory
Ann Bonville Trombly
1931 – 2020

Ann passed away peacefully at home on April 27, 2020. She graduated from Catholic Central High in 1931 in Troy, New York. She married her high school sweetheart, Buster, upon his return from the Korean War in 1951. They were happily married for 46 years until his passing in 1997. She is a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College and worked as a medical secretary. Three adult children, four grandchildren and three great children survive her. She had many creative hobbies. She was an accomplish sewer, quilter, and calligrapher.

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Anne Trombly and Ira
 Buddy’s Bench Book Launch Event

Prints of Ann's paintings displayed

in the HPCANYS Reception Area

Author's Tribute

In writing A Night on Buddy’s Bench, I always saw it as an adult picture book. Like a children’s book, it’s meant to be read slowly or aloud as you gaze at the pictures giving yourself or another time to contemplate before turning the page. I was drawn to ask Ann to be the illustrator because when I looked at her earlier land and seascapes, I felt as if I was looking through an ocean mist and fog. I wanted dreamlike pictures to engage the reader’s own imagination. Ann’s work has done just that. The illustrations in the book span over twenty years of Ann’s artwork. For us, as her family, the book has become a touching portfolio of her artistic expression. In finalizing the book design for publication, two more illustrations were needed at the end. I asked Ann to do a drawing of a parade of diamonds on the water and a final drawing of Buddy’s Bench with the blue cap. At that time, Ann had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. She completed the watercolor of the diamonds on the water in a more primitive form and that became the last illustration in the book. She apologized to us and said, she wouldn’t be able to paint the picture of Buddy’s Bench anymore. Thus, the book ends with a photo. Ann is self-taught artist and throughout her life used art and crafts to bring beauty and gifts to her family and now through Buddy’s Bench to the world. She has a creative stubbornness that would not let her give up on her work until she got it right for herself. I know Ann’s work is sacred. Several readers have written us to say their spouse or their parent, who has Alzheimers disease, would often open A Night on Buddy’s Bench, to just gaze at the paintings.


“Dearest Anne:
I have had the honor or seeing your paintings Ira used and I must share: your paintings truly draw me inside the artwork. I can feel the chill of the foggy morning at the cabin; hear the birds and feel the stillness as I sit on the bench; feel the sun on my face (and hear the seagulls from a distance) as I stand on the water's edge.  We have several pieces on our office wall - directly across from my desk. At any given moment, I'll look over, close my eyes and let one of your pieces take me to a happy place for 30 seconds. It has been a privilege to see and feel your work.  Please know your work has made a difference.  Thank You.”

- Kimberly Ryan
Education & Membership Coordinator Hospice & Palliative Care Association of NYS

“A Night on Buddy’s bench is Ira Baumarten’s sweet tale of grief and dying. Can such a story be sweet! Yes! It’s adult picture book, beautifully illustrated by Ann Bonville Trombly with mystical impressions of a hazy scene on and island in Maine.”

- Ann Hutton 

Book Review, Journalist

Other Reader Comments

“I love the book. I have had others read it, and they are deeply touched by both the words/message and illustrations … I have read it to my husband and although it is hard to tell anymore what he is thinking or feeling, he seemed calmed by it and by being able to touch some of the illustrations.”

“The book was very moving and those illustrations were just lovely.”

“I am so pleased with Ann’s eerie and mystical drawings as they tie into the text so well. She surely has captured the feelings of the written word and added scenes that deal with the essence of the northeast.”

“Thank you very much for the wonderful book that you so lovingly and beautifully illustrated, and that Ira so gracefully and thoughtfully wrote. I opened your package, and read the first few pages and started to cry.  Good tears.  Tears of gratitude that you and Ira had the strength and wisdom to turn your pain into a thing of such beauty and understanding.” 

“I love the way the illustrations capture the moods and beauty of the island.”

“The visuals you conveyed with the text took us to the bench overlooking the sea.”

“The story and the illustrations in Buddy’s Bench combine to create a spiritual place in the midst of the deepest of all sadness.”

“Thanks for sending me this lovely book with its beautiful watercolor illustrations.”

“ The illustrations by Ann Bonville Trombly provide us with a soulful look into the psychology of seeing things in a fog, which is literal and symbolic.” – Professor Marcielle Brandler

her hands were strong and nimble
creating crafts and pies to be given
she didn’t have to be exact
her love was in the making

her adventures of spirit were small brave steps
she gave light … that gave light … that gave light

stubborn - she taught us
gifts can be found

when one is … patient, persistent and gentle


A Book and Film Release and Remembrance

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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
through us
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!”


Spirit Calling

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