Sharing Life with Another A Memoir of a Social Worker

Poignant End of Life Stories

by Bob Sh’mal Ellenberg

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Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 5/1/2014

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 5x8
Page Count : 124
ISBN : 9781452593739
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 124
ISBN : 9781452593746

About the Book

Sharing Life with Another is about the compassion, care and loss experienced when being with others during their end stages of life. The nine stories in this book follow a social worker who finds himself on a journey helping others, including both his parents, as they move toward death. Each story offers an insightful and touching account of how Sh’mal entered into circumstances where he was the one present to offer words and actions to comfort the person dying.
These stories offer help to anyone who may be confronted with death and have to dive into their soul as they assist a person through the process. We learn that at times it is about knowing when to reach for the right words to share with another. Then there are moments when we need the sensitivity simply to be present, holding the space for the other.
Many people are now on spiritual paths where the fear of dying is no longer kept hidden, but rather acknowledged and grappled with. These stories also offer wisdom and guidance for each of us as we prepare for our own transition from this life.
The author has no clue why the work of helping dying people came into his life. After reading the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying he was hired as the Director of Social Services in a nursing home. There he felt pulled to be with many as they neared death.

About the Author

The stories in this book are about the work of helping people with their transition from this life to the next stage of existence. Although, the author has spent most of his work life as a community based social worker, in his early 40s, together with his ex-wife, they began to care for elders and partially disabled people in their home. This experience of caring for people at home was a lead-in for him to work as a social worker for a home care agency and later in a nursing home. In both of these employments he came in contact with many people in the end stage of their lives.Like many people who experience spiritual transformations, after reading a number of spiritual books and practicing meditation and yoga, he began to feel he was on a spiritual path. One particular book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, fascinated him. After reading it once, and then immediately a second time, he began to question whether there was something in his nature calling him to work with dying people.Each of the nine stories in this book comes from a different circumstance in his life. The first two stories are about his mother and father. Although neither story is about their dying, but rather the care he gave to them preceding their death. All the other stories are about the intimate relationships the author developed, each in a different way, helping the dying person. It’s been impossible for the author to know why this work came into his life. All he knows for sure is that after reading the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying he was soon hired in a nursing home as the Director of Social Services. It was there that something in him felt moved, almost like being pulled, to be with many as they neared death. He has total gratitude about the gift of doing this work. The author has five children and two stepchildren. Along with three of his own children, he has witnessed eight homebirths. Not many lay people have had this experience. There is a bit of wonderment about what it is in his life to have experienced those births and many deaths? One 52 year-old daughter came into his life in 2013 after not knowing each other. Yes, social networking has positive value. They are both appreciating the new connection. He lives in Palm Coast, Florida with his life partner, Linda Solomon, a well know artist in many cities on the North East coast of Florida. The author’s 40 years as a social worker includes working with pre-school children, severely emotional disturbed children, mental health patients, at-risk teens and in a hospital. While working with homeless people in Gainesville, Florida a video documentary was made about the work he was doing being a case manager for 15 mentally ill homeless people. It’s called A Sh’mal World. In his 23 years living in Gainesville he also had many essays on social and political issues published in the Gainesville Sun. Social work helped make him an activist for humane issues and in 1982 during the Nuclear Weapon’s Freeze he gave a speech in support of the Freeze before to the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations. As a young man, in 1970, the author left Los Angeles where had lived for 10 years and went to Santa Fe, New Mexico where the “hippie” revolution was in full swing. Although having just turned 30 and considered “not to be trusted” by the younger generation, he felt he was part of this movement. Having previously worked with the Head Start program in Los Angeles, he was hired to teach at the Santa Fe Community School, an alternative K thru 12 school. He and other teachers who had recently moved to Santa Fe formed a collective buying 40 acres in the Ozarks in northern Arkansas. He lived there for two years, “primitively,” with no running water, only pump over a spring box, and no electricity, using candles and kerosene for light. He knows that living with nature was the perfect environment for the beginning of a spiritual transformation that has continued on. It was also in the Ozarks where he learned organic gardening and currently has a productive 40 x 30 foot vegetable garden.