How to Say Goodbye: The Wisdom of Hospice Caregivers


Wendy MacNaughton

Limited Edition. Contact for availability.

In 2017, I had the honor of being the Artist-in-Residence at Zen Hospice, a 6 bed hospice house in San Francisco. Over the course of a year, I spent afternoons inside the house getting to know residents, their families, caregivers and staff. I spoke with people experiencing their last stage of life - their memories, fears, their joys and regrets. I sat with family members coming to terms with the loss of their loved ones. And I interviewed caregivers who, for very very little money, performed some of the most loving and heroic and deeply human acts that one person can do for another. As I witnessed this final chapter of life, I used my pen and watercolors to record the quiet conversations and silent observations.  

The result is a small artist’s book titled “How to Say Goodbye; The Wisdom of Hospice Caregivers.” It includes drawings done exclusively from life inside the house (to photograph felt invasive and objectifying, interrupted the human connection the house created) combined with words of caregivers I spoke with. It shares what I learned from them about how to be with people at the end of their live - how to be present - how to love. What we can do for people, and what we can’t.

I give away the signed, limited edition of 200 as gifts to people who could find them useful - with the request that, if they find the book helpful, they pass it along to someone else who could use it, too.

Note: This project is a tribute to my aunt Tildie MacNaughton. Tildie was a lifelong kindergarten teacher and self-taught artist. She passed away while under the care of hospice nurses.

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