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This event was part of Reimagine Events

Let’s Learn: Writing, Grieving, and Growing

Hosted by Reimagine

Celebrated authors share their insights on grief, growth, and the power of writing as we struggle with the loss of spouses, children, siblings, and other loved ones.

In this discussion, a group of diverse and celebrated writers explore how reading and writing help us navigate and metabolize the loss of loved ones. Speakers include: Amy Lin, whose debut memoir considers how her husband’s death shattered any set ideas she ever held about grief, strength, and memory; Emily Rapp Black, who chronicles how she regained her footing after losing her son to Tay-Sachs disease; and Nico Slate, who recalls his relationship to his late brother in his memoir of love, loss, and race. Moderator and author Dr. Sunita Puri reflects on her spiritual and professional journey to palliative medicine and the tension between the impulse to preserve life at all costs and the embrace of life’s impermanence. Reimagine Board Member Susan Moldaw will offer an introduction.

Emily Rapp Black is the New York Times bestselling author of five books of creative nonfiction. A former Fulbright scholar and Guggenheim fellow, she is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California-Riverside. In her third memoir Sanctuary, Emily Rapp Black writes of tentatively, painfully regaining her footing after losing her son to Tay-Sachs disease. With brutal honesty, she ushers readers into the mourner's sanctuary, where life and death, love and loss, rage and happiness, pleasure and pain can tolerably intermingle.


Amy Lin is a writer and educator who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. A recipient of residencies from Yaddo and Casa Comala, her work has been published in Ploughshares. Here After is her debut memoir.


Dr. Sunita Puri (moderator) is the Program Director of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship at the UMass Chan School of Medicine and the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, where she is also an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine. She completed medical school and residency training in internal medicine at the University of California San Francisco followed by a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at Stanford. She is the author of That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour, a critically acclaimed literary memoir examining her journey to the practice of palliative medicine, and her quest to help patients and families redefine what it means to live and die well in the face of serious illness. A graduate of Yale University and the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship, her writing has appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, and the Journal of the American Medical Association, among other places. She and her work have been featured in the Atlantic, People Magazine, PBS’ Christian Amanpour Show, NPR, the Guardian, BBC, India Today, and Literary Hub. She is passionate about the ways that the precise and compassionate use of language can empower patients and physicians to have the right conversations about living and dying.

Nico Slate is Professor in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of six books, including Brothers: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Race (Temple University Press, 2023), a book about the life and death of his older brother, a mixed-race hip-hop artist who was the victim of a racially-charged assault in Santa Monica, California in 1994. Nico is also the co-founder of LEAP, a program for low-income high school students interested in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Susan Moldaw is a writer, chaplain, spiritual director, and Reimagine Board Member. She trained and worked as a chaplain intern at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, where she received the ACE award for excellence in service. Susan worked as Congregation Emanu-El’s first lay Jewish chaplain. She volunteered at the Jewish Home as a spiritual care partner, and with the Covid Grief Network. She served on the board of the Bay Area Jewish Healing Center, chairing the major gifts program. Susan has a master’s in Gerontology, with a focus on spiritual issues at the end of life. She completed leadership programs at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and the Wexner Heritage Foundation. Most recently, Susan completed a program in spiritual direction at the Mercy Center. Her writing has been published in literary journals and anthologies, and other publications.

About Reimagine and the Series "A Refuge of Words: Writing our Way to Growth After Loss”

Reimagine is a nonprofit organization catalyzing a uniquely powerful community–people of different backgrounds, ages, races, and faiths (and no faith) coming together in the hopes of healing ourselves and the world. We specifically support each other in facing adversity, loss, and mortality and–at our own pace– actively channeling life's biggest challenges into meaningful action and growth.

Sometimes there are no words. And sometimes words need to be expressed. Grief changes us after we lose a friend, companion, or relative, regardless if that relationship was loving, complicated, or abusive. There’s no going back to our older selves. In order to stay connected to peaceful memories or to cope with traumatic ones, we can allow grief to enter our lives, to feel all the feels, and at the same time find strategies to contain it. Writing is one tool to integrate our grief. In this three-part series, artists, therapists, and health care providers share insights into the written word: a form of creative and spiritual expression, a modality to process the loss of those who have passed, and a pathway towards growth, transformation, and self-knowledge.

Guest speakers and teachers include grief experts, best-selling authors, artists, specialists in narrative medicine, and palliative care physicians. With fresh and unconventional perspectives, they will share experiences of grief and loss in their lives and their work that developed into generative pathways for healing, creativity, service, and advocacy.


Talk, Panel, & Conversation Writing & Literature
Spirituality Caregiving Arts & Entertainment Grief Healthcare