Hospice of Southern Maine is excited to welcome author and podcast host Nora McInerny and end-of-life counselor Dr. Martha Jo Atkins as keynote speakers at its upcoming Thresholds Conference. The conference will be held in person with a virtual option on Tuesday, May 23 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall in Portland.

An annual conference that unites families, friends, healthcare professionals, caregivers, and the community in meaningful conversations about end-of-life care, this year’s topic is “Dying Matters: Conversations about end of life and the emotional honesty that follows.” In addition to the keynote speakers, attendees will hear from Dr. Mary Becker, HSM associate medical director and hospice physician. The event will be moderated by Helen Bauer, host of the Heart of Hospice podcast.

McInerny is a writer whose pieces have appeared in the New York Times, TIME Magazine, and the Washington Post. McInerny specializes in difficult conversations surrounding death, loss, illness, mental health, trauma, change, and how to move forward with grief with resilience, joy, love, and humor. She regularly dives into the topics most people avoid with refreshing candor, heart, and humor. In doing so, she draws upon her own story of profound loss: During six hellish weeks in 2014, McInerny miscarried her second baby, lost her Dad to cancer, and became a widow at age 31 when her husband died from brain cancer. In the ensuing years, she became a “reluctant grief specialist,” bestselling memoirist, and founder dedicated to shining the light on the dark things in life with wit, humor, and heart. She will be presenting virtually at the Thresholds Conference.

Dr. Atkins is a doctoral-level (Ph.D.) end-of-life licensed professional counselor and counselor supervisor (LPC-S), coach, speaker, and author. For almost 30 years, she has been working with grieving and bereaved children and families as well as people at end of life and the ones who love them. Dr. Atkins believes that the process of dying can be frightening but doesn’t have to be. She has spent her career helping families move beyond the worry, panic, and what-ifs, so they can feel comfortable being there with and for a loved one at the end of their life.

“In our line of work, we know that conversations about death and dying don’t always come easily, but they’re so important to have,” said Daryl Cady, CEO of Hospice of Southern Maine. “We’re thrilled to welcome these two experts who have dedicated their careers to making these tough conversations easier and who have impacted so many people through their meaningful work.”

In-person and virtual tickets for the event are available for $35. For more information about the Thresholds Conference and to register for the event, please visit thresholdshsm.org.

The Rev. Anne L. Hunter, M.D. Memorial Thresholds Conference is an annual community conference on end of life. It is designed to provide the public, healthcare professionals, and caregivers the knowledge and tools we need to understand hospice care and end of life. Now in its eleventh year, Thresholds brings people together for honest conversations about end of life.

Hospice of Southern Maine is a non-profit organization with the mission to provide compassion, care, and comfort through end of life. Formed through a collaborative effort among York and Cumberland County leaders and health care providers, Hospice of Southern Maine organized in 2001 and began providing direct patient services in 2004. Today, HSM cares for nearly 2,000 patients annually, at the patient’s home, current care facility, and Gosnell Memorial Hospice House, an 18-suite inpatient facility in Scarborough. HSM admits patients with a variety of diagnoses, including Alzheimer’s; heart, lung, and kidney diseases; stroke; Lou Gehrig’s disease; and cancer. Care is patient-centered with family support and provided by a comprehensive interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, aides, chaplains, grief counselors, and volunteers. Hospice of Southern Maine is a non-profit 501(c)3, Medicare certified state licensed agency, and the largest independent provider of hospice services in Southern Maine. To learn more, visit http://www.hospiceofsouthernmaine.org.