August 10, 2017
Moore Mission Moments - The Watershed Group


by Patti Moore


A recent email from my physician friend Dr. Ariel Malamud, a Gastroenterologist in a large metropolitan health system resonated powerfully with me, and I wanted to share it with you, with his kind permission.


He begins by describing how moved he was when, during his daughter’s lacrosse game after a player was injured, the members of both teams silently took a knee and focused on the injured player while she was tended to by the medics and referees. He goes on to say,


“…The practice of medicine has an important challenge: the physician must attend to the needs of the sick using acquired knowledge and experience and updated skills without lacking the sensitivity to kneel mentally for the hurt human being…

Many health systems promote this with inspirational conferences once in a while. There is a need to rather make it part of the institutional culture. And in order to accomplish this, an understanding partnership and trust are fundamental elements. The combination of science and art is in the very nature of medicine. It’s not a choice. This is not about producing tons of paper on measurement quality, earning a spot on the national percentile table of honors nor how many pages one’s medical record is or how long one’s waiting list is, it is about clinicians and administrators common effort to care for the sick.”


What a powerful idea – and never more timely. Yes, we should all be more focused on the “care” in healthcare; ready to kneel and honor the fallen and not divert our eyes from their pain. Our mindfulness and focus on the person, even for a moment, allows for a healing space to occur.  It’s so easy to lose sight of this simple, essential truth when we’re tasked with so much that’s honestly so much less meaningful. The ever-larger avalanche of paperwork, the ever-smaller margins, the uncertainty that leaders and administrators must cope with daily as the healthcare landscape shifts around us – all of these are powerful distractions from the heart and soul of the work itself.


It takes more than inspirational conferences, framed homilies, or high-flown mission statements to keep the heart of what matters before our eyes. But that reality – our shared humanity, our sense of purpose, our desire to serve and to heal – is what brought us to this work in the first place. Let’s not let the bureaucratic demands, the regulatory quagmire, or the budgeting constraints we have to deal with overwhelm us.


Remember, hospice began on a wing and a prayer; it sprung from all that’s great about how we humans care for and about one another, with a shared respect for the experience of death and a wish to bring comfort to life’s close for those we served. We didn’t set out on that mission looking to win awards or accolades; if we did our jobs they came, but they were never the motivation. Our common experience was; our willingness to “take a knee” and focus unwavering on the humanity of the patient before us. 


Let’s not lose sight of what really matters in the pursuit of what’s “important”.  

Take a moment; take a knee.


Dr Ariel Malamud and Patti on a hike with the Alembic Institute group outside Santa Fe, NM



Grief is an inevitable part of life – and for those of us who work in hospice, caring for the grieving is a critical part of the job. The more we know about how others process loss, the better equipped we are to help.


How we each process grief is as individual as we are. Understanding that another’s means of handling loss may be very different to ours is key to supporting that person through grief to the best of our ability. How and where we’re raised plays a big part in how we grieve, and what’s “normal” for me may be completely out of bounds for someone from another country or culture. This piece explores the challenges for managers in dealing with grief in a diverse workplace, and offers good advice:


How do you live through loss? This artist is getting through his grieving in the way that seems most natural and therapeutic to him; by turning it into music:


"I'm still pretty much in it," he says. "I'm in grief still right now. So when I sing those songs to myself or hear them, yeah, it doesn't feel like a distance. People say that about grief—that it's not a thing you get over. You don't get over the death of this person. It's just that this is what life is like now, and it will be this way. Maybe it gets less sharp, but it's not a process that has an end to it. I've heard that and I agree with it."


Loss is experienced differently by adults than it is by children – and recent research shows that kids who lose a parent or sibling are more at risk for death than their peers. Important read for those caring for children who grieve:


“Of all the possible tragedies of childhood, losing a sister or brother to early death is almost too awful to contemplate. Yet it is startlingly common. In the United States, 5 to 8 percent of children with siblings experience such a loss.


The immediate effects of a sibling’s death, and the grief that follows, are obvious to all. But the consequences are more than emotional and can last for decades. They are even associated with an increased risk of death in those who remain.”


This terrific piece from Reader’s Digest on what people going through a loss really need is a resource worth sharing. Worth reading and passing on. 


  I’m inspired by what these wonderful hospices are doing to improve lives in their communities – and to make their organizations known for their good works above and beyond their primary mission.


Helping kids deal with grief is part of Hope Hospice’s mission:

 “Every year, Camp BraveHeart has made a big difference for young people who’ve lost a loved one. It’s a two-day summer camp that takes place on the grounds of Camp Aldersgate in North Scituate.


"In the next two days, somebody here in this circle is going to be a person who makes a difference in your grief journey," Deanna Upchurch of  Hope Hospice and Palliative Care Rhode Island  said to more than 100 campers on day one of camp.


"At the age of 6, my dad passed away,” said 16-year-old Mackenzie Gilmore of Burrillville. He has attended Camp BraveHeart since then, along with his sister, Kaitlyn. They are now both camp counselors-in-training.


“This camp really shows you that you’re not alone. That’s, like, a constant,” said Kaitlyn. “We’re kind of like family.”


The butterfly release is one of the loveliest and most moving tributes to loss, and

Hospice of Central Pennsylvania uses theirs to benefit people with limited or no healthcare coverage:


“The "Celebration of Life Ceremony" gave people in the community the opportunity to honor lost loved ones in a special way.

The event  had inspirational readings, music  and the release of Painted Lady butterflies.


"Many of them are people who lost someone in our hospice program and they are here to remember their loved one," said Gil Brown, chief executive officer at Hospice of Central Pennsylvania.

What’s your hospice doing to create alliances and awareness in your community? I’d love to hear about it!  Send your stories, press releases, and announcements to: [email protected]

I have been moving fast and furious this summer and loving every place and group of people I have been working with. 
The big celestial news is that on August 21, 2017 at 2:44pm Eastern Standard there will be a total eclipse of the sun in full view all across the US for the first time since 1918! What a coincidence that my husband Steve and I will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary on that very day!  We are hoping to be in a place where we can witness this once in a lifetime celestial event.  Hope you get a peek at it too!


Pause, take a breath, smile and enjoy the summer sky at our RiverCove Retreat Center
The Watershed Group
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