Approaching 70. Founding member AAHPM. Medical Director Conway Medical Center Palliative Care Consultative Service (2002) and Mercy Care Hospice and Palliative Care (1981). Longsuffering wife of 45 yrs, 3 daughters, 6 grands, all above average. I remain enthused about life in general and the future of palliative care in particular.

Posts by Charlie

Storyteaching as a way to enhance mutual understanding

Creative methods in Storyteaching, by Karen Bell, RN, Nancy Boutin, MD

Storyteaching is storytelling with a twist. Both are learned skills, as was aptly demonstrated by two gifted storytellers/teachers. There is one essential and several important structural hints, but the essential issue is setting; that is, a safe place where stories of immense personal importance can be told without time constraints and in a language familiar to the listeners. That means the storyteachers must take the time to know the patient/family life stories and use analogies and language from those stories to which they can readily relate. (Because “time” is an issue here, much of the hour was spent justifying storyteaching as an essential therapeutic intervention.)

Another important skill is the ability to tell the story with lots of holes in it. They call this “interpretative space”. If it’s a story patients/families can relate to, they will fill the holes with their own stuff, so that it indeed becomes their own and has much greater impact.

We were encouraged to develop a set of story templates dealing with difficult themes we encounter each day (e.g., CPR/DNR, AHN, the “When?” question, the use of opioids, etc.). The slides have many tips about this, are exceptional, and will be on the AAHPM website.
Charlie G.


This is my introduction to blogging so bear with me. Also succinctness is not among my gifts so a new challenge.

I will be an official blogger for Karen Bell and Nancy Boutin’s “Use of Story Teaching in Hospice and Palliative Care” on Saturday so stay tuned.

Charlie G

What Does the American Civil War Teach Us About Contemporary Death and Mourning?

Join the Humanities SIG at the Assembly in Boston for an illuminating discussion of the award winning book, This Republic of Suffering, on Saturday, March 6, 12:15 – 1:15 pm. Among the questions we’ll discuss:

This Republic of Suffering

Prior to the Civil War, the end of life process commonly occurred at home, with family, the family physician, clergy, community members, and others with long-standing relationships providing care and support. Funerals were commonly held at the local church, providing family, extended family, friends, and community members a place to express and share their grief. Custom also provided for public mourning, allowing the bereaved to openly express their grief, and for others to recognize and offer support. Circumstances of the Civil War – which in today’s population would equal 6 million deaths – profoundly changed these customs.

In contemporary America, when asked to describe how one wishes to spend one’s final months and days, respondents will often describe a scenario resembling a pre-Civil War process. Yet this ideal is frequently not achieved. In what ways does the contemporary end of life process reflect the death, realizing, and mourning processes experienced by many during the Civil War, and what interventions can end of life care practitioners consider to achieve the goals of the individual, their family, and community in such circumstances?

Come share your thoughts, learn from others, and take away new insights to apply in your practice. See you there!

Charlie Sasser & Karen Whitley Bell