Grief Dialogues

Welcome to Grief Dialogues
Health Care Education

My name is Elizabeth Coplan. I created Grief Dialogues and its theatrical productions in 2015 to open new conversations between grievers, those with terminal and chronic illness, and the health care providers who serve them. 

Today I planned to describe our new initiative, Grief Dialogues Health Care Education (GDHCE). GDHCE uses the same theatrical productions to stimulate questions and conversations for medical providers, as educational tools that foster more compassion in health care delivery.

I fully intended to write this first blog post as an Ode to Compassion in Health Care, recognizing that one of the most pressing problems of our time is actually the limited amount of compassion we often find in the health care industry.  

I planned to discuss how patients and their families may not remember the provider’s name or face,  but they will never forget the acts of kindness and compassion offered them ESPECIALLY during this time.

They will remember how the provider made them feel. Do they feel like case #156 or a person with a name and a former life?

In a 2018 survey conducted by HealthTap, “85% of patients say compassion is very important to them.

Right now, I know many health care providers who could use our compassion towards them.


I also know that today we need to expand the compassion conversation to all communities and professions.  


In yesterday’s Seattle Times, I read the opinion piece “With the coronavirus surging, compassion is more important than ever”  by Walter Hatch.  I encourage you to read it for yourselves. And, I offer here my favorite section of the piece:

We often think of young people as self-absorbed; but here was a young man genuinely curious about me. Maybe even worried for me.

It was an emotional reminder that, especially in this moment of “social distancing,” we cannot live without compassion. Sure, we can stock up on food, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks. But what we really need is community, a thick web of connections to one another across the social distance.


In February 2020, before social distancing restrictions, GDHCE performed in Seattle, WA for Virginia Mason Medical Center; University of Washington School of Social Work and the Center for Health Science Interprofessional Education, Research & Practice; and Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest, an initiative between WA State Hospital Association and the WA State Medical Association. We also sponsored and performed the show for the Live Well, Die Well Tour in Los Angeles.  


Our goal of starting new conversations about dying, death and grief, needed to expand not only to address what happens between medical professionals and their patients, during the grief process, but what was transpiring within the medical community among health care professionals themselves…the health care provider burnout rate is alarming. 

We began to succeed reaching this goal with our February shows and look forward to growing the work with additional performances in Fall 2020. In the meantime, we continue banging our drum for compassion, not just for the health care community, but all world communities.

In the future I’ll write of the importance of compassion in health care. Today I write about compassion for all.

Why? Because compassion always matters. 

For more information on how you can bring the Grief Dialogues Health Care Education to your organization please contact us at

I look forward to opening many different conversations with health care professionals about dying, death, and grief. 

Elizabeth Coplan Signature


Betts, David, Andrea Balan-Cohen, Maulesh Shukla, and Navneet Kumar. “The Value of Patient Experience: Hospitals with Better Patient-Reported Experience Perform Better Financially.” Washington, DC: Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, 2016.

Mazzarelli, Anthony. Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence that Caring Makes a Difference. Pensacola, Florida: Studer Group, LLC. 2019

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