Community Events/Workshops

The MERI Center also focuses on helping patients and their caregivers cope with serious illness. Monthly advance care planning sessions are offered, free of charge. Other workshops and events will be conducted regularly to educate and engage our community in issues related to Palliative Care and end of life issues.

Due to COVID-19 we have converted our workshops online, interactive sessions. We will continue to assess our ability to hold in-person workshops.

On-Going Events:

Food for Thought: A Poetry Cafe


Thursdsays, 10:00 - 11:00 AM PST

Offered by Redwing Keyssar, RN, Author, Director of Patient and Caregiver Education at The MERI Center for Education in Palliative Care, UCSF/Mt Zion

In this one-hour “Poetry Café”, co-sponsored by the MERI Center for Education in Palliative Care and Art for Recovery, we will enter the realm of creativity through the art of “Poem-Making”

We will:

  • Create a safe environment for each other-with a short guided meditation and music
  • Listen to some poems read out loud and see how they make us feel
  • Use some specific words or “prompts” to encourage our own “poem-making”
  • Share our poetic explorations

In these challenging times, it is more important than ever to express our feelings and connect to our own creativity and community.   Join us in using poetry writing as self-care & to explore our feelings, fears & hopes.


“Poetry is simply speaking the truth. Each of us has a truth as unique as our own fingerprints”

~Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, from Intro to Poetic Medicine by John Fox

 Making poems can:

  • Surprise us
  • Allow expression of feelings in creative ways
  • Guide our own healing journey


Last Acts of Kindness; Care & Compassion at the End of Life


Next Session: Winter 2024
Thursdays, February 8th - February 29th
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM Pacific

7 CEUs for RNs

CE Fee for Non-UCSF RNs: $99

Sliding scale suggested donation for course: $50 - $150, no one will be turned away
You must attend all the sessions in full to obtain contact hours

A live-online 4-session workshop for anyone who wishes to foster confidence and resiliency in these difficult times, as we care for our patients, friends, families, ourselves and those in our community at the end of life. As an online Zoom course, we will attempt to create as positive, connected and experiential an environment as possible!

Let us change the face of dying in our culture from one of fear and anxiety to one of acceptance and compassion. Inevitable as death is for all beings, let us work to create experiences that are positive, potent and transformational.

Redwing Keyssar, RN, Midwife to the Dying

Last Acts of Kindness

Many people and especially healthcare providers will be in positions to be “end of life doulas” at some time--assisting people in the dying process. Most people, despite our professions, have little training and minimal experience or understanding what it means to “show up” at this delicate time.

Historically, most people died at home, surrounded by family and friends who tried their best to provide care. Then people began dying in hospitals, and death came to be regarded as a “medical event” rather than simply part of life. Now, many people are accepting the inevitability of death, and yet as a culture we are still not well prepared for the territory of death and dying.

This workshop will:

  • Prepare us to show up at the bedsides of the seriously ill and/or dying—using the tenets of Palliative Care: to help relieve suffering physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically
  • Offer guidance in supporting each other as caregivers-- both professional and “family” caregivers
  • Assist us in creating personal toolkits for caregiving at the end of life
  • Help us understand how our own myths and beliefs about life and death affect our roles as care-givers and care-receivers
  • Offer practical knowledge about the dying process
    • Pain and symptom management (an overview)
    • Hospice and Palliative care issues
  • Provide a step towards facing our own mortality, which is key to serving others

As an online Zoom course, we will attempt to create as positive, connected and experiential environment as possible!

Facilitated by Redwing Keyssar, RN 

Maximum number of participants: 20. 

Registration is for all 4 sessions


Loss, Losing, & Loosening*: Exploring Grief and Healing Through Poem-Making
*quote from Eric Poche

A weekly poem-making workshop led by Redwing Keyssar, RN, Author, Poet
Tuesdays | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm PST

Redwing Keyssar,RN, Author & Poet, will guide us in using poem-making to examine our grief and to find healing in our creativity.

This is an open group that will meet weekly.  Come once, come every week; there is no commitment to join every week.

Each week we will:

  • Use poem-making to explore your grief, whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one or struggling due to this global pandemic 
  • Find healing through poems
  • Create a supportive & caring community

You DO NOT need to be a writer or a poet to join.

Poetic Medicine for the "Wounded Healer"

2 Wednesdays a month | 10:30 - 11:30 AM PST

The wounds are the places where light enters.”   ~Rumi

Many of us, whether we identify as being in the “healing arts” or not, have wounds that we understand as the foundation of our own ability to heal and to have compassion for others.  In these sessions we will open to whatever it is we consider our own “wounded places” and allow our poem-making to be part of our healing process. 

“Everyone alive has suffered. It is the wisdom gained from our wounds and from our own experiences of suffering that makes us able to heal.” 
~Rachel Naomi Remen

The psychologist Carl Jung coined the concept of The Wounded Healer. He took the insights of this Archetypal healing from Greek Mythology. Chiron, the wisest Centaur, was once inflicted with a severe physical wound. In his way to recovery, he found the goal of being a “Teacher of healing.” Many wise people have said, healing is not a process between the healer and the wounded. It’s a process of two equals. The teacher does heal the wounds, but the one who orchestrates it is the healer’s own experience of healing.

Redwing Keyssar, RN, Author & Poet, of the UCSF MERI CENTER for Education in Palliative Care will guide us in using poem-making to explore the concept of what it means to be a “wounded healer”  and to find healing in our creative process together. 

We will:

  • Use poem-making to explore ideas about health and healing
  • Create a supportive & caring community


Serious Illness Support Group

Conversations about living and dying

1st & 3rd Tuesdays of the month, 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM PST 

This group is for those with serious illness to meet and to connect with others.

Our goal is to provide a safe place for you to explore,

  • To  freely say out loud and share what you are experiencing, thinking and feeling
  • To listen and learn from each other: what helps, what hurts and what heals?
  • To express your concerns about the impact your illness has on others and yourself
  • To talk about sharing information and having conversations with your loved ones

Sessions are open to people with serious illness. Meetings held virtually via Zoom. Link sent upon registration. Registration closes the day before the group.


Lacy Fetting is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Oncology whose keen interest in Palliative Care has often focused on supporting patients in their communications with children. Lacy works with the GI Medical and Surgical Oncology team at UCSF, Mission Bay.

Redwing Keyssar, RN, has been a Midwife to the Dying for 30+ years and is the Director of Patient and Caregiver Education at the UCSF MERI Center.  She is author of the book, “Last Acts of Kindness; Lessons for the Living from the Bedsides of the Dying.”

Judy Long is an outpatient palliative care chaplain (neurology and oncology) and resiliency educator. Judy has facilitated workshops on end of life, accompanied the dying, provided after death care, and led funeral/memorial services in varied settings. She also provides training in emotional balance and self-compassion.

To Register:

Call the MERI Center at 415.509.8645 or email us at [email protected].

Sustainable Caregiving for Care Partners of People Living with Cancer

Online 8 Week Course  

Wednesdays, May 8, 2024 - June 26, 2024  9:00 – 10:30 AM PDT

Limited to 20 participants.

Sustainable Caregiving for Care Partners of People with Cancer is a live-online program of eight weekly 90-minute classes. In each class, you will learn evidence-based skills to help make your caregiving sustainable.

Teaching methods include brief lecture periods mixed with experiential exercises. You will also have opportunities to speak with others in structured break-out groups (pairs or triads) as well as in the larger group. Each week you will receive a summary of the session and related resources.

Each class will have its own theme and the opportunity to practice new skills in a safe place, so that they’re more available during the days ahead. Themes include:

  • Attentional balance and grounding
  • Repertoire of stress responses and meeting difficult emotions
  • Positive intention setting
  • Mindful self-compassion
  • Challenging relationships and patients’ concerns around “being a burden”
  • Re-framing chronic sorrow
  • Balance and growth in adversity
  • ‘What works for me?’ -- wellness practice -journals to cultivate a positive mindset


What Matters Most?

A free Advance Care Planning Workshop for all Patients​


MERI offers free workshops throughout the year in advanced care planning for patients, staff, and caregivers that enable you to: 

• Create a personalized plan to honor your wishes

  • Have your questions answered

Online Workshops: *All times PACIFIC
Tuesday, January 16, 2024 | 2:15 pm - 4:15 pm
Tuesday, March 26, 2024 | 10 am - 12:00 pm
Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

You don’t have to be a UCSF patient to attend!