WhatcomCares is a resource website to help those with serious illness or facing end-of-life and their families find services and support in our community. 

Aging Well Whatcom

The Palliative Care Institute has been working with other agencies and community organizations to explore what steps need to be taken to make our community a robust and vibrant place for all of us to age well.


This short video, produced by Western student Cavan Lyons, describes the inspiration behind the Touch of Grace training program.  This program, funded by the Chuckanut Health Foundation and the CMP project of the Center for Medicaid/Medicare Services, teaches role appropriate palliative care skills to skilled nursing home staff.

In this short clip from a WAHA sponsored panel on changes to national health insurance, Liz Baxter, the Executive Director of the Northsound Affordable Communities of Health, makes a plea for better end-of-life care.

Produced as part of an advance care decisions campaign in Whatcom County, in connection with National Healthcare Decisions Day. This video encourages community members of all ages to "get theirs."

We are happy to share this video with others who want to use it in Advance Care Planning campaigns. In order to track its impact, we ask that anyone using contact Marie Eaton.


Palliative Care Institute on CEDAR

PowerPoints and video presentations from some of the recent Palliative Care Institute conferences and community conversations are now available at this site. The site, housed at WWU’s library, is not as intuitive as other sites, but it provides us a robust platform for archiving both these presentations and other research and creative work by WWU faculty and students related to palliative and end of life care.

Most of the PowerPoints and videos can be found under the Lectures and Events tab sorted by themes.

You can search the programs from recent events under the Conference tab to be reminded of the titles and content of the presentations.

Research and creative activity by WWU faculty and students related to serious illness or end of life can be found under the Research and Creative Activity tab.

Not If But When

Books for Young People about Death and Loss

This two-hour workshop has been offered five times over the past year. In this session, community members and professionals who work with children are guided through strategies for using books to initiate discussions about death and loss with children or youth.  Marie Eaton, Director of Palliative Care Institute at Western Washington University, Thom Barthelmess, Youth Services Manager at the Whatcom County Library System, and Sylvia Tag, Librarian at Western Washington University present an introduction to the books that can provide pathways to these difficult conversations, and tips for introducing them with young people in your life.

Northwest Life Passages Blueprint

In 2014 the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement convened a Task Force of experts and community leaders to explore what it would take to transform Whatcom County into a center of end-of-life excellence. Focusing on advance care planning, palliative care, clinician training, financial sustainability, and community culture, the Task Force drafted a Blueprint to kick-start the vision; moving toward a community-wide system of services designed to be the best in America. The Palliative Care Institute continues to play an important role in the implementation of this Blueprint.

Other Resources

Improving Care at the End of Life

Improving Care at the End of Life is a report from the Aspen Institute Health Strategy Group Report. AHSG provides recommendations on important and complex health issues to promote improvements in policy and practice.  Each year, the AHSG tackles one issue through a comprehensive, in-depth study. The group’s topic for 2016 was improving care at the end-of-life. 


Poet Matthew Brouwer collaged these poems from the words of the participants at one of our Conferences.  These beautiful words captures some of the richness of our conversations. 

Drip from the faucet
water wearing away stone
I'll buy you a cup of coffee
if you tell me a death story

Breaking family patterns and talking
looking at the scary stuff
I'm still learning

I mean, we're all going to die
death rate, 100%
So how about we make this the best day/life possible

Everything contained within the circle
Oh shit, the terrifying circle
all of us connected
all of us in this together
this dying season

Being with someone as they die
like a new birth
how about we give life/death a try

I'm still learning

Your stories, the joy, the sadness, the sharing
death and passion
gratitude waking up

birth scared me
but death is okay
I'm able to help with that

A loving dance with death
the shadow lands, my teacher
a place of resilience
and absurdity
I am the smoke

Death doesn't scare me
but pain does
my ribs will break
but I am persistent
I don't go away

I hope that question is answered by the time
my time comes
it needs to be talked about

How the world will carry on without me
As de Gaulle said,
"The cemetery is full of people who are indispensable"

I am now a member of an extended family
You can't run away from it
My lips are to remain moist at all times