Our Common Ground: Death and Dying Workshop with Patty Winter, RN, and Gregg Ruskusky

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Patty Winter, RN, and Gregg Ruskusky at Maitripa College

A Workshop with Patty Winter, RN, and Gregg Ruskusky

This workshop is open to the public. Participants in caregiving and therapeutic professions will learn concepts and skills that may immediately support and enhance their work. Individuals caring for family and friends, and those developing spiritual practice, will benefit from deep contemplation and listening that will beneficially shape their relationship to their own and others’ mortality, and prepare for and cope with the eventuality of death touching our lives.

This weekend workshop offers personal and professional explorations of the universality of death, and how we can prepare for being present with the dying process. Examining the hopes and fears in our lives that shape our perception of death and dying may lead to reassessment of priorities and the cultivation of compassion and forgiveness. Participants will be introduced to:

  • Mindfulness and utilization of mindfulness techniques in care-giving environments
  • Psychological and spiritual perspectives on the relationships between suffering and the dying process
  • Physical and emotional experiences of dying and grief

Drawing on literature from psychological, spiritual, medical, and contemplative fields, as well as their extensive professional experience, Patty and Gregg skillfully create a supportive environment to reflect, share, and learn.

Workshop presenters Patty Winter, RN, and Gregg Ruskusky are Zen and Tibetan Buddhist professionals who draw upon their combined experiences as a nurse, Hospice caregiver, cancer survivor, and meditation instructors to guide explorations of our relationships to death and dying through story, creativity, meditation, and traditional Buddhist and Western psychological perspectives. Click here to learn more about the instructors.

Our Common Ground: Death and Dying: a Workshop with Patty Winter, RN, and Gregg Ruskusky
April 28-30, 2017
Friday:  7-9 pm 
Saturday: 10am – 12:30pm and 2-5pm
Sunday, 1:00-4:00pm

Continuing Education (CE) hours available for psychologists, therapists, and social workers.
All are welcome; pre-registration strongly encouraged!

Register Now

Fee Structure

General Audience, Suggested Donation: $150
APA CE Workshop participants, Registration fee: $200
Generosity Policy: sliding scale fee available upon request


Maitripa College grants seven APA CE hours for this workshop. Please contact Leigh Miller, Director of Programs, at program@maitripa.org or 503-235-2477 x. 7002 with any questions.

For Psychologists, Therapists, and Social Workers

Maitripa College is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education. Maitripa College maintains responsibility for this program and its content. To learn more about Continuing Education for Psychologists, Therapists, Social Workers and other related fields at Maitripa College, please click here.

An extensive description of this workshop, offered at an intermediate level of instruction, is below. Please contact program@maitripa.org for information about available CE credits, educational objectives, and questions. Please note: optional participation in guided meditation is offered during this workshop but not included in APA CE learning objectives or credit hours.

Workshop Details

The Death and Dying workshop at Maitripa College has been attended annually by psychologists and clinicians working with clients with terminal illness, caregivers of the terminally ill, and grief counselors, as well as interested members of the public and the Buddhist community. The program offers a clear distillation of the dying process and how it is experienced in spiritual, physical, and psychological dimensions by the one dying, loved ones, and care givers including medical personnel. Education about the Buddhist approach to death and various practices for caretakers (including therapists) and for the dying offer new tools for psychological practice centered on presence, mindfulness, overcoming resistance to mortality, empathy, and compassion. These can be powerfully transformative of the suffering and confusion that characterizes death and grief for many.

The workshop presents theory and best practices in grief and bereavement counseling, as well as how deep contemplation of the impermanence of our own lives can lead to insights that benefit the dying, their caretakers, and family members. Discussion addresses the inevitability of death and resistance to this reality. The mental and spiritual stages of confronting the inevitability of death are identified, along with the vulnerability of the ego facing dying. The physical stages of death are identified, and cultural differences in rituals and perspectives about death are explored. Lectures provide an overview of current theories of the grief process, new research findings on the trajectories of healing from grief, and the domains of grief as an opportunity for positive transformation. Buddhist techniques and insights applied as mindfulness and presence allows for the possibility of transforming the chaos and turmoil of death to an experience of great love, compassion and connection.

Literature and research continues to amass on the topics of death and dying, the role of spiritual practice in illness, the stages and tasks of death and the grieving process. The workshop draws upon evidence-based literature on grief trajectories, domains of positive transformation, and current practices employed by leading Hospice and palliative care institutions. Self-care during grieving, as well as self-care for those working with the dying and bereaved, are emphasized through identification of inner resources.

Additionally, an aspect of best practices in all counseling and especially in bereavement counseling, is to understand and support cultural differences. Buddhist texts and poetry offer insight into a particular spiritual path’s views and practices about death, which may be of particular interest to Buddhist counselors and/or Buddhist clients.

The workshop has the oversight of Dan Rubin, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and an adjunct Professor of Psychology at Maitripa College. Dr. Rubin has extensive training in evidence-based forms of psychotherapy including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. This training makes him uniquely qualified to assess how mindfulness can be applied to the topics of dying and bereavement.

Prospective References

Byock, Ira. (1998). Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life. Riverhead Trade.
Dowling Singh, Kathleen. (2000). The Grace in Dying: How We Are Transformed Spiritually as we Die. HarperOne.
Sogyal Rinpoche.(1994). The Tibetan book of Living and Dying. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Watts, Jonathan S. and Yoshiharu Tomatsu (eds.). (2012). Buddhist Care for the Dying and Bereaved. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
Worden, J. William. (2008). Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, Fourth Edition: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner
[Fourth Edition]. Springer Publishing Company.
Various Buddhist verses, poems, and contemplative meditations, including:
The Nine Contemplations, by Atisha
The Buddha’s Five Remembrances, from The Plum Village Chant book, by Thich Nhat Hanh

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