Contemplative Care

Contemplative care is at the heart of our work.

At ABODE, we think of contemplative care as being fully present, truly listening to one another and being intentional in everything we do. It means being aware of feelings that are simple or complex, remaining nonjudgmental and creating a space where not knowing what to do or what to say is acceptable.


We demonstrate our contemplative care in the way we turn a Guest in bed, change a diaper, give sips of water, listen to stories and transfer a Guest from the bed to a wheelchair.

We demonstrate it in the way we greet families and loved one, in how we hold someone’s hand when death is near and how we bear witness to transitions and embrace sadness and grief.

And we demonstrate it in the day-to-day running of our home: answering the phone, caring for the plants, washing the dishes, dusting the shelves, mailing letters and the like. 

ABODE staff and volunteers engage in our own varied personal contemplative practices that are meaningful to our own experiences of living. This connection to something beyond ourselves is essential to our work.

We often hear from Guests and families: “It’s so peaceful here” or “There’s something about this place I can’t quite describe” or “I feel the love here.” That feeling, we believe, is the result of our attention to contemplative care and practices.

For Guests and Their Families

We help our Guests and their families understand the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of dying. As questions arise, we may teach about the trajectory of dying – the sights, sounds, behaviors and special language the dying often use as their body is separating from their spirit.

We may gently coach families when they want their loved one to eat and yet, their beloved’s body is shutting down, no longer requiring or wanting food.

When someone is dying and children are involved, and adults don’t know what to say or how to say it, we help them find a way. With permission from parents, we create age-appropriate, gentle opportunities for children to be a part of the process. 

We create rituals, specific to the moment, specific to the individuals and families involved, to help mark the sacred moments unfolding.

After Death

We are in no hurry as we help you begin to say good-bye. ABODE is a safe and sacred container for grief.

We offer family members an opportunity to bathe their beloved using a special basin of water prepared with essential oils and flower petals. This is a tender, meaningful ritual we are honored to help with or to invite the family to do on their own.

We take time to honor the person who has died, their time on earth, their legacy, and to thank them for teaching us how to better care for the ones who will come after them at ABODE.

We add a butterfly to our wall in the Quiet Room and a rock in the blue bowl in our backyard – both with our Guests’ names on them – honoring the change that has happened within our walls.

And we gather each December to honor the Guests and their families.

At ABODE, we find that contemplative practices are practical, relaxing and transformative, developing capacities for deep concentration and quieting the mind in the midst of the action and distraction that fills everyday life. This state of calm centeredness is an aid to exploration of meaning, purpose and values. Contemplative practices can help develop greater empathy and communication skills, improve focus and attention, reduce stress and enhance creativity, supporting a loving and compassionate approach to life.

Contemplative practices come in many forms, from traditions all over the world.


Image by Carrie Bergman + design by Maia Duerr
The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society
Tree of Contemplative Practices