Jerral Sapienza, Curator
The Bardo of Death Studies
Author of Urgent Whispers: Care of the
Member, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Since the early 1980's when his first work with cancer
patients began as part of his counseling studies at Oregon State University, Jerral
was so taken with the sensitivity and spirit of the work that he vowed to devote a
significant part of his diverse work to Death and Dying work and studies. What
began as volunteer time in nursing homes and hospice in the 1980's has grown
steadily over the years to its current passion in Jerral's life today as chaplain, poet, writer, Caregiver Educator, archivist and curator, an ex high-tech
Systems Engineer and technician, most recently, author of a book on Handwriting Analysis.
Jerral's ‘other' professional studies began in the mid 1970's in the fields
of Engineering Physics, Computer and Electrical Engineering, and Science Education.
Feeling a call to studies and experience outside the sciences, however, Jerral's
career took a significant turn into Education and Counseling where some of the other
sides of learning and thought could round out the highly technical of his studies to
that point. Fascinated by learning in diverse fields, and earning a teaching degree
in 1980, Jerral balanced a career teaching writing, foreign language, and computers
for several years before splitting off full-time into his own consulting and
presentation businesses in the mid-80's, which he still operates today.
Also in the mid 1980's, quite fortuitous in their timing, Jerral
experienced two separate close calls with death, brief but life-changing
episodes, manifesting as Near-Death Experiences. One was the result of a
sledding accident in Colorado, and the other, a slipping fall over an
Oregon waterfall during a meditative stroll in the Umpqua National Forest.
Already quite a philosophical thinker and writer on the nature of life,
death and dying, Jerral saw these events merely as messengers to help
crystallize a better understanding of some of the more mystical aspects
of life. Subsequently, Jerral became fascinated with personal experiences
associated with a body's hold on life and its release at the moment of
death. He resolved then to investigate and write more on that subject.
Jerral's 2002 book,
Urgent Whispers: Care of
the Dying, was born out of his ongoing compassionate advising work
in AIDS and cancer hospice during the last few years, where he met with many
friends and family attending their loved ones, overwhelmed by their options
and their responsibilities. Fascinated with Jerral's unique approach to
working with the dying, many people asked how they might learn more of these
techniques and approaches. It was clear that there was a real need for a
handbook for these people. Yet when searching out such a handbook and not
finding one, Jerral decided he would have to write that handbook to assist
these people in their pressing time of need. URGENT WHISPERS was born.
In addition to working as a personal Quality of Death advisor for
friends and family of the dying, Jerral has for the last few years also
served as curator of The Bardo of Death
Studies, a death research and information site on the Internet. The
Bardo has more than 30,000 visitors every month, who stop by to tell their
stories, share their lives, read others' stories, and / or request a
little reflection around issues of death and dying.
In his daily work as founder of Lifelong Learning Excellence, Inc., a
personal and business growth consulting business, Jerral enjoys a variety of topical
and technical interest areas, from public speaking, to writing, to assisting
organizations develop seminars and coursework. Clients include hospices, hospitals,
medical and nursing schools, churches, psychologists, counselors and corporate HR
and Training groups. In addition to Caregiver Education and Hospice concerns,
Jerral often consults regarding his other skills and interests in Handwriting
Analysis for personal and business concerns such as Teambuilding, Fraud, Personal
Coaching, Matchmaking and Personality Profiling.
Never a dull moment in this
line of work!