Michelle Zauner/ Courtesy Photo

Elizabeth Gilbert/Courtesy Photo

SCARBOROUGH — Hospice of Southern Maine (HSM) announced that authors Elizabeth Gilbert and Michelle Zauner will be the featured speakers at its 11th Annual Thresholds Conference. 

This year’s event is titled Grief is Individual and Universal. The conference takes place on Tuesday, May 10 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. 

“The topic of this year’s conference is grief, and the title is Grief is Individual and Universal,” said Heidi Farber, director of Developmental Outreach at HSM. “We think that this title and the program that we set up will resonate with a lot of people because while grief is universally recognized as something we all experience at some point in our lives typically it is also very personal, and each person moves through it in their unique way. In addition to just simply those experiences through those live events we have COVID layered onto it which brings its dynamic and sense of loss and grief and whether that is a loss of seeing loved ones or attend a funeral or other kinds of losses.”

This is the second year HSM is holding this event virtually because of COVID; they realized by holding the conference online they were able to reach more people from all over the world. Before the COVID pandemic, the center had been conducting the meetings in-person for many years and it grew to a conference of over 500 people that HSM was holding at Hannaford Hall. 

“This is an annual conference, and it was endowed by one of our founders who was ultimately one of our patients, her name is Reverend Ann L Hunter MD,” Farber said. “She endowed it specifically for community education about hospice and end of life. So, that is why we do this event every year. It is because one, we got some endowed funds that help us be able to bring big-name speakers in, and two, because she had a vision that she realized how important it was for people to understand what happens at end of life and how hospice can be beneficial. We do not always just talk about hospice, it is something that we have been doing for many years.” 

This year’s keynote speakers include Elizabeth Gilbert who is best known for her 2006 memoir, “Eat Pray Love.” During the conference, she will speak about her experience with hospice during her partner’s illness and death, share her thoughts on grief, and have a Q&A session with the audience. The second keynote speaker is Michelle Zauner who is known for her first book, “Crying in H Mart,” a New York Times best seller. During the conference, she will read passages from her book and answer questions. 


“I think anyone can benefit from attending this conference because grief is something that if we haven’t experienced, we probably will at some point in our life,” Farber said. “Thresholds are for anyone, but we hope to attract a younger thoughtful audience with Michelle being in our speaker lineup.” 

Tickets for this virtual event are available for $35. The Zoom link as well as instructions for the event will be sent to the participant’s email. For more information about the Thresholds Conference and to register for the event, visit their website at http://thresholdshsm.org 

“We are nonprofit, and we are locally owned and operated,” Farber said about Hospice of Southern Maine. “Our mission is to supply compassion, care, and comfort through the end of life. All we do is hospice, we don’t do home care or other things, just fully hospice.” 

HSM will be holding Ask the Experts webinars, which are free, live, 30-minutes sessions.  Upcoming events include: Creating Community: The Benefits of Becoming a Hospice Volunteer Tuesday, May 24 at 5 p.m.; and Twilight in the Park – Community Luminaria event at Deering Oaks Park on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. To register for the event, visit the website http://askhospiceexperts.com 

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