NCDE Summer Institute – Anam Cara – Soul Friend to Oneself, as to Those For Whom We Care

July 23, 2013

National Center for Death Education 2013 Summer Institute

Speaker: Tom Welch, M.Ed., LCSW


Workshop Description

The issues of end-of-life care cannot be explored dispassionately by caregivers in the field. Paradoxically, we are all deeply and personally invested in the issue at the heart of it all – Being alive yet having to die. We will give ourselves permission to explore the philosophical, emotional, spiritual, and social elements of the question of death for ourselves in the service of becoming a better caregiver to the dying and bereaved.

Educational Goals

• Explain the existential issue that shadows mankind from the beginning

• Discuss how culture mitigates this terror to ease the mind

• Show how continuous exposure to death effects health care personnel and their capacity to be present.

• Demonstrate the relationship between mindfulness/meditation and one’s capacity for empathy

• Explore the practice of good helping skills.


Tom is a former Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Boston. He began work in the field of hospice in 1976 as founder and director of Omega Hospice of Cambridge and Somerville within Metro-West Catholic Charities. He established and coordinated the Safe Place support program for family members and friends who had experienced a suicide death. Throughout the early years of hospice formation, he promoted the concept of hospice in the media, lectured at conferences, and spoke in health care settings to encourage thinking and planning in the area of better care for the dying and bereaved. Certified in Thanatology from the Association of Death Education and Counseling, Tom presently conducts professional development workshops for nurses and social workers in the field of end-of-life care and communication skills. Tom attended Stonehill College and received an undergraduate degree in Philosophy at St. John Seminary College, ordained from St. John’s Seminary Theologate, and obtained a masters in counseling psychology from Boston State College.