A family-based organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Session 1

A Pilgrim’s Way through Grief – Helping Others and Ourselves

October 22                  

12:00 p.m. - 1: 30 p.m.

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Session Materials

As Guardians, we are often occupied with navigating the difficult legal and medical decisions for those we serve as they near the end of their lives. This session will explore how we all might approach grieving through the perspective of a hero’s journey. The author will share readings and concepts from A Night on Buddy’s Bench and A Pilgrim’s Way through Grief. The session is designed both for ourselves personally and in our role as caregiver. We will take a spiritual journey together. This perspective of viewing grief as a hero’s journey and/or pilgrimage can help us be kind and patient to others and ourselves in the face of loss. It is sacred space where we can find solace, meaning, and resilience.

“At its heart, the journey of each life is a pilgrimage through unseen sacred places that enlarge and enrich the soul.”

John O’Donohue


Ira Baumgarten
Author, Senior Trainer and Consultant
National Coalition Building Institute

Presenter Bio

Ira Baumgarten and his family have experienced death and loss in their own lives. The support of hospice has helped them process the fear and grief so they could be present in their loved ones’ end-of-life journeys. As part of this healing process, Ira wrote the book A Night on Buddy’s Bench: An End of Life Story, to help initiate end-of-life conversations that can comfort both the living and the dying. In collaboration with the Hospice and Palliative Care  Association of New York State, Ira wrote a follow-up book entitled: 

A Pilgrim’s Way through Grief – A Guide to A Night on Buddy’s Bench. These books, along with other texts and a short-film entitled Spirit Calling explore the beauty and brevity of life and have been used by hospice staff and volunteers nationally and internationally in their work with families and individuals. Prior to becoming an author, Ira had a career as an adult educator with the Civil Service Employee Association and the United Auto Workers. He is currently a senior trainer and consultant with the National Coalition Building Institute, a non-profit diversity and leadership training organization. Ira writes, “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.” Ira has a Bachelor of Arts degree from State University of New York at Oneonta and a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from Syracuse University.

“I have read countless books on grief and loss. A Night on Buddy’s Bench has touched me in ways that no other has. Ira leads readers on a journey, not judging where we are and why, letting us unfold the lessons of loss and healing.”