More and more Americans are looking for better ways to face the emotional and practical realities of serious illness and dying. They are seeking ways to balance high-tech medical interventions with comfort and compassionate care, and to achieve a  sense of dignity and meaning at the end of life. Finding Our Way: Living With Dying in America presents the real-life experiences of Americans who have courageously struggled to find their personal answers to some of life's toughest questions. Their intimate stories take us into the hospital and nursing home, through the struggles of caregiving, talking about serious illness, medical decision making, arranging a funeral, and living with loss. We hear the conversations that helped them find their way through these challenging situations.

Finding Our Way is a short course on death and dying in America today. These topics can't be avoided by any of us. The practical advice, resources, and personal stories in Finding Our Way can teach how to approach these most significant life events with the same kind of planning and emotional preparedness we strive for in the rest of our lives.  We are finding better ways to live with dying in America.

Finding Our Way Authors

Robert Milch, M.D., is the Medical Director at the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in Buffalo, New York and is Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery and Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He has published widely on the subjects of pain and symptom management, ethics, and palliative care in surgery. Dr. Milch was a founding officer of the New York State Cancer and AIDS Pain Initiative and serves on the Sub-committee for Long-term Care and Hospice of the New York State Medical Society.

Story about Barbara
LIVING WITH DYING IN AMERICA

J. Donald Schumacher, Psy.D. is President and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. Immediately prior to joining NHPCO, Dr. Schumacher served for over 13 years as President and CEO of The Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Cheektowaga, New York. Dr. Schumacher holds his Doctorate in Psychology from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, and has lectured nationally on the psychological care of the terminally ill patient. Dr. Schumacher is co-convener of the Last Acts Task Force on Institutional Innovation, Vice-Chair for Public Policy for Partnership for Caring, and a founding member of the National Hospice Work Group. Since 1999, he has been working with Children’s Hospice International to develop a comprehensive model of care for the terminally ill child.

Story about Barbara
LIVING WITH DYING IN AMERICA

Dale G. Larson, Ph.D. is Associate Professor, Department of Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University. A clinician and former Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Larson has published extensively in the end-of-life, counseling, and health psychology areas. He is the author of The Helper's Journey: Working With People Facing Grief, Loss, and Life-Threatening Illness.

Story about Janet
CONVERSATIONS

Myra Christopher is President and CEO of Midwest Bioethics Center (MBC) in Kansas City, Missouri. Ms. Christopher is National Program Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's national program, Community-State Partnerships to Improve End-of-Life Care.

Stories about Widowhood
WIDOWHOOD

Russell K. Portenoy, M.D., is Chairman, Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care, Beth Israel Medical Center, and Professor of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is a Trustee of the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Care, past president of the American Pain Society, and Secretary of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Dr. Portenoy is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, and author or editor of 12 books and more than 350 papers devoted to the fields of pain management, symptom assessment, opioid pharmacology, and palliative care.

Story about Madeleine and John
PALLIATIVE CARE

Robert A. Bendiksen, Ph.D., is professor of sociology and, since 1997, director of the Center of Death Education & Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Dr Bendiksen serves on the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center’s Institutional Review Board and as Secretariat of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement. He has recently coedited several books including Death and Identity, Third Edition (with R. Fulton), Death, Dying & Bioethics (with G. Cox), and Complicated Grieving and Bereavement (with G. Cox and R. Stevenson).

Story about Margaret
ADVANCE DIRECTIVES

Bernard Hammes, Ph.D., is the Director of Medical Humanities for the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation and the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His work as chair of the Institutional Review Board and Ethics Committee has resulted in two nationally recognized programs on advance care planning: If I Only Knew... and Respecting Choices. He has authored or co-authored numerous articles and book chapters that are focused on clinical ethics, advance care planning, and end-of-life issues.

Story about Margaret
ADVANCE DIRECTIVES

LaVera Crawley, M.D., is a Lecturer at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California and the Executive Director of the Initiative to Improve Palliative and End-of-Life Care for African Americans. Dr. Crawley has served as Project Director for Research on Cultural Diversity and End of Life at Stanford's Center for Biomedical Ethics. She is a former Soros Faculty Scholar for Project on Death in America and has published extensively regarding cultural barriers to end-of-life care.

Story about Eva
CULTURE AND DIVERSITY

Martha Rutland-Wallis, D. Min., is Director of Clinical Pastoral Education at VITAS Healthcare in Miami, Florida and a United Methodist minister. She is adjunct faculty at the South Florida Center for Theological Studies and has served as pastor in six churches and chaplain in three hospital systems.

Stories about Spirituality
SPIRITUALITY AND FAITH

Hugh Maddry, M.Div., DRE, is the Deputy Director of the Veterans Health Administration's National Chaplain Service. Dr. Maddry has served as Adjunct Faculty at a number of theological seminaries as well as on the faculty of the East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine. Prior to his career with the VA, Dr. Maddry was a Director of Pastoral Care for a large Regional medical center and a Pastor for several United Methodist churches in Virginia and North Carolina.

Stories about Spirituality
SPIRITUALITY AND FAITH

Thomas Lynch is a poet, essayist and funeral director. Mr. Lynch is an adjunct professor of creative writing at the graduate writing program at University of Michigan. He has written extensively on end-of-life issues. His collection of essays, The Undertaking (W.W. Norton, 1997) won an American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His most recent book is Bodies in Motion and at Rest.

Story about Michael and his father
LAST RITES

Karen Orloff Kaplan, Sc.D., is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Partnership for Caring: America's Voices for the Dying (PFC). Dr. Kaplan has special expertise in health and aging issues, and in developing health and social policy. Dr. Kaplan's previous academic positions included posts as Clinical Instructor at Tufts University and the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.

Story about Shirley & Beth
CAREGIVING

Ira Byock, M.D., is Director of The Palliative Care Service in Missoula, Montana, Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national program, Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care and is a Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Montana. He is the co-founder and principal investigator for the Missoula Demonstration Project, Inc, Dr. Byock is the author of Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life and co-author of A Few Months to Live.

Story about Shirley & Beth
CAREGIVING

Dr. Byock's Op-Ed

Stephen R. Connor, Ph.D. is Vice President for Research and Professional Development at the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in Alexandria, VA. He has published journal articles, reviews, and book chapters on issues related to the hospice movement and care of dying patients and their families. He is the author of Hospice: Practice, Pitfalls, and Promise.

Story about Christie and Pat
HOSPICE

Muriel R. Gillick, M.D. is the Physician-in-Chief at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Gillick has written extensively on the topics of decision making near the end of life and ethical and clinical issues in geriatrics.

Story about Cynthia
NURSING HOMES AND LONG-TERM CARE

Len Fishman is President and CEO of the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged in Boston, Massachusetts. He is trained as an attorney and early in his career served as General Counsel for the New Jersey Association of Non-Profit Homes for the Aging.

Story about Cynthia
NURSING HOMES AND LONG-TERM CARE

Bruce Himelstein, M.D., is Director of Palliative Care Services at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He is co-investigator for a National Institute of Health grant to research parental beliefs in pediatric oncology and is a member of the Children's Oncology Task Force on End-of-Life Care, and the Bone Tumor Strategy Group. Dr. Himelstein is board certified in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology and by the American Board of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Story about Georgiana   
WHEN A CHILD IS DYING

Joanne Hilden, M.D., is the Chair of the Department of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Children's Oncology Group (COG) Responsible Investigator at the Children's Hospital at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio. She founded and co-chairs the COG Task Force on End-of-Life Care. Dr. Hilden is a 2001 Soros Scholar in the Project on Death in America, and she is a certified trainer for the American Medical Association’s EPEC project to educate physicians about end-of-life care. Dr. Hilden is co-author, with Dr. Dan Tobin, of Shelter from the Storm: Caring for a Child with a Life-Threatening Condition.

Story about Georgiana  
WHEN A CHILD IS DYING

Charles A. Corr, Ph.D., is Professor emeritus, Department of Philosophical Studies, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Dr. Corr is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Donor Family Council and the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement. Dr. Corr has written over sixty professional articles and book chapters. His most recent book is Death and Dying, Life and Living.

Story about John and Suzanne
Story about Cheryl and Joe
VIOLENCE AND UNEXPECTED DEATH

Marcia Lattanzi-Licht, RN, MA, is a consultant and maintains a private
practice in Boulder, Colorado. Ms. Lattanzi-Licht has published widely in the areas of coping with professional stress, loss and bereavement care. She is the principal author of The Hospice Choice: In Pursuit of a Peaceful Death.

Story about Marcia & Daryl
LIVING WITH LOSS

Dan Tobin, M.D., is a palliative care physician consultant integrating advanced illness/end-of-life coordinated care programs within the VA Healthcare Network Upstate NY and the VA New England Healthcare System and is the Director of the Center for Advanced Illness Coordinated Care. Dr. Tobin has authored training manuals and health service research articles focusing on the integration of advanced illness/end-of-life care within health plans and health systems. He is the author of Peaceful Dying: The Step-by-Step Guide to Preserving Your Dignity, Your Choice and Your Inner Peace at the End of Life and co-author, with Dr. Joanne Hilden, of Shelter from the Storm: Caring for a Child with a Life-Threatening Condition.

Story about Laura
A VISION FOR THE FUTURE