Category Archives: Gifts, Gratitude, Grace and other final feelings

An emotional window of opportunity opens at the end of life…we should groom it for all of its gifts.

One Washcloth: a Tool for Change

Wednesday, 16 Sep 2015 14:22


Over the past century our society has become distant from both death and the tending to our dead. According to Gary Laderman’s book Rest in Peace: a Cultural History of Death and the Funeral Industry in Twentieth-Century America, “The divide was produced by three social factors: changes in demographic patterns, the rise of hospitals as places of dying, and the growth of modern funeral homes” (p 1). Our mental, emotional, spiritual, financial and societal health has been negatively affected directly and indirectly by this disconnect. Because our relationship to death is at the core of what it is to be human, this detachment affects both individual and societal health. Continue reading


Antique Oriental rug


Study the past if you would define the future.  (Confucius)

This could not have been a better time to demonstrate the significance of the past and its presence in our lives.  Passover!  Easter!  The stories must be remembered and told, regardless of the pain.  They matter.  They make a difference in the way we live.  They have the power to deeply influence our future.  They belong to our very survival.  They have changed the course of mankind and the quiet/silence of the individual soul.  They teach us that no one is condemned to be a failure, and human dignity resides in each of us.  They show us hope in the midst of despair and the importance of never giving up.  They tell us that we can refuse to be defeated.  They point the way to compassion and a shared moral life.  That is what the past can do for the now and future Self.  The past is transformative.  It just takes an act of courage to face the fear of memory.

From the “dead” past comes new life — which means that the past never died at all.

Spring renewal and freedom heal.  Looking back is easier then.*


*  An earlier version of this “short take” was posted as a Comment on the blog of Monica Williams-Murphy, MD, here: .

Much gratitude to Rabbi Lord Jonathan H. Sacks, PhD, for the persistent eloquence and hopefulness of his writings.  I have dipped into that rich pool often and joyfully, even here.  His wisdom informs us all.



Tags:  #grief  #eol  #memory  #stories  #healing  #hope  #compassion  #transformation

Rea Ginsberg is a retired director of social work services, hospice coordinator, and adjunct professor of clinical social work.  She can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @rginsberg2.




I have a very wise nurse-friend, we call her “Coop.” I have always thought that she double-dipped from the fountain of compassion. This paper, which she wrote for a Nursing 403 class, proves my suspicions true and gives us all a clue on how to become more like her. This lesson is applicable to ALL of us who care for and serve others, not just those called to nursing: Continue reading

Most of the time I feel as though I am “running in quicksand” attempting to bring patients to a place of grace and dignity in dying. On occasion, there is someone who jerks me out of my quicksand and plants me squarely on stable shore and then proceeds to show me what grace and dignity in the face of death really look and feel like.

Please meet Mr. Jefferson. Continue reading

Father's Day- Tim and Darcy

The name of my book is “Bitter and Sweet, A Family’s Journey with Cancer.” Here is a brief summary. In April of 2010, my husband Tim began to have some strange sensations in his side. On May 7, we found ourselves facing stage IV gallbladder cancer rather than a simple gallbladder removal as planned. Five months and one week later, my husband died. Those five months were the most difficult and horrifying time of our lives. It was also an extremely beautiful time for us. We found ourselves using the phrase “bitter and sweet” so often during those five months, that it was an obvious title choice. What follows is the short version of our story…


Our lives had been full of paradoxes. How do you fight for your life and yet accept mortality at the same time? How do you maintain optimism, which is necessary for health, and prepare for your death and get your affairs in order? How do you understand God’s love and compassion, and yet experience cancer and suffering? Continue reading


“Only with death is the story of our lives complete”

~Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

A Eulogy, the recitation of ones life story, is a powerful tool for transformation and growth among survivors. Perhaps, the writer of the eulogy experiences the greatest growth from penning the words. Below is a freshly-written eulogy by one of our readers. Beautiful, simple, even poetic. Afterwards, a short praise of the eulogy and legacy is discussed. Continue reading