Contemplative Care Training….Cause to Pause

Contemplative Care Training….Cause to Pause

The rigorous bi-annual training for Volunteer Care Partners focuses on the fundamentals of end of life care within the broader context of contemplation and awareness. The training supports volunteers to be present and open to what is happening in the moment, thus enabling them to better understand and respond to the needs of others. The total training commitment is comprised of 35 hours of intensive training sessions.

Willow Farm is a non-profit organization dedicated to the wisdom of becoming more present and thoughtful in our lives through the practice of caring for others.  We believe that quality of care is enhanced by this intention, and that societal models for the end-of-life experience can also be improved (for caregivers and receivers alike).  We are committed to promoting the relationship between living an awakened life and dying with love and dignity.

Our education and training model offers strategies for navigating the difficult emotions that can arise in caring for others. By integrating tools for reflection and awareness we become more resilient and the capacity for compassion expands. Through this shared human experience, we inspire each other to live whole heartedly.

This 40 hour training will support participants in deepening our relationship with living and dying. Post training, participants will be given volunteer opportunities in the community as part of practice along with mentorship from faculty members. Reduced tuition for other Willow Farm classes will be offered to support continuing service as practice.  The model is appropriate for everyone and it encourages bringing awareness to everything we do.  Topics and teachers include:

Curriculum Topics and Teachers include:

  • Practicing Presence— Sensei Paul Gyodo
  • Embracing Grief— Kim Mooney CT
  • The Dying Process and Preparing for Our Own— Kathy Gambino RN, MDiv., Chaplain
  • Moving Beyond the Medical Model of Death and Dying— Susan Nemcek Chom, Chaplain
  • Psycho-Spiritual Dimensions of End-of-Life — Loren Uecker MDiv.
  • Building Blocks of Loving Presence—Susan Nemcek
  • Home-based Natural Green Deathcare—Seth Viddal

(Topics may vary in subsequent trainings)

Participation Expectations and Opportunities:

  • Full participation in initial training is expected.
  • Viewing caregiving as part of personal contemplative practice is important. This program includes the opportunity for support in developing and maintaining such practice through access to ongoing Willow Farm programs (meditation retreats, etc.).
  • Opportunity to join Cause to Pause Face Book page with access to articles and posts by Willow Farm faculty. An online reading group connected to the reading list will be available.
  • After full completion of training, participants are encouraged to commit to three hours of service per week for one year. The setting could be a home hospice, assisted living, or hospital.
  • Building and maintaining a meditation practice is strongly recommended.

The course tuition is $575. $ 100 deposit is due upon registration. Balance of $475 is due one month prior to beginning training. PayPal to:, or a check payable to Willow Farm are welcome.  Cancellation less than one month before class will result in donation of the $100 deposit to Willow Farm scholarship fund unless otherwise approved.  Full or partial scholarships may be available. Tuition includes a healthy nourishing lunch each day. Register by emailing to $100 non-refundable deposit is due at registration, with balance due one month prior to beginning training. Payments can be mailed to Willow Farm 11898 N. 75th St. Longmont CO 80503, or through paypal at Space is limited, early registration is recommended. Scholarships may be available. For more information call Susan at 303-772-5338.



Kathy Gambino is a RN who has specialized in the area of home care and hospice for the last 10 years. She has served in both nursing and administrative roles as Case Manager, Admissions Coordinator, Patient Care Coordinator, and Quality Assurance Coordinator. Kathy recently completed her Master of Divinity degree at Naropa University with a concentration in inter-faith chaplaincy. She is currently working as a Spiritual Care Coordinator with Suncrest Hospice in the Longmont area. She holds certifications in Contemplative End-of-Life Care and Level 1 Meditation Teacher Training, and has taught meditation classes at Longmont United Hospital and the Longmont Senior Center.

Paul Gyodo Sensei is a transmitted Zen teacher in the White Plum Zen Asangha, founded by the late Taizan Maezumi, Roshi. He was a Founding Member of the Great Mountain Zen Center in Berthoud, CO and is Founder and Spiritual Director of the Eon Zen Center in Boulder. He leads weekly Zen sittings in the area and monthly Zen retreats at Willow Farm.

Kim Mooney has had 23 years of experience dealing with end-of-life preparation and long-term home care, including working with personal and professional caregivers.  She has worked with hospices, hospitals, care facilities and home care agencies to support staff.  As an independent consultant for faith communities, educational institutions, civic and community groups, medical and health care agencies, and mental health organizations, Kim has developed grief and crisis support programs for school districts, corporations and other community groups. A published author and in-demand public speaker, Kim has won awards for innovative approaches to death support, served as adjunct faculty in college death and dying courses, and hosts a quarterly radio show on death and dying on KGNU 88.5 FM/1390 AM Community Radio.

Susan Nemcek LCSW, CHom, and Ordained Chaplain is the director of Willow Farm Contemplative Center. She is developing an alternative hospice project utilizing natural medicine, healthy food, and contemplative modalities in end-of-life. Her mission is to help shift societal approaches to death and dying from a medical model focused on “treatment” and avoidance, to a more accepting and compassionate model; integrating the dying experience into life.

Loren Arienne Uecker recognized her call to death and grief transitions while lying next to her own mother as she approached her dying. This led her into graduate studies at Naropa University and 15 years of service as a professional hospice spiritual counselor.  She teaches regularly on the spiritual dimensions of end-of-life.  A Buddhist Minister and registered psychotherapist, Loren offers end-of-life and grief counseling in private practice with Radiant Passage, where she weaves mindfulness meditation, body oriented therapies and shamanic modalities into her tapestry of care.

Seth Viddal discovered his passion for end of life care serving death transitions in his own family.  After careers in the US Air Force, then working with several information technology firms, and then founding a commercial and industrial construction company, he went back to school to study contemplative caregiving. He graduated Naropa University’s Interdisciplinary Studies program in May of 2019.  He is a Managing Partner at The Natural Funeral in Lafayette, Colorado, a holistic funeral home which focuses on complete client care and offers natural death care and environmentally mindful options.

Testimonials of Past Graduates of the Cause to Pause Contemplative Caregiving Intensive

“I highly recommend this program, excellent and meaningful material, all presenters were very knowledgeable, caring, and sincere.”

“Everyone could benefit from this program.”


“Every human should do this!!!   Learn how to die, and therefore learn how to live.”


“These are topics everyone should explore.  It takes you to unexpected places.”


“Whether I work in this field or not, it transformed my heart.”


“I loved it all, and it all felt relevant.”


“It was rich and deep, as a practice of being a conscious human being.”


“It was not only informative, but transformative.”


“This training is much needed in Western culture.  Shifting attitudes about death is invaluable, and gives us healthy perspectives about how to live our lives.”


“This training is exquisite and cutting-edge. If we all learned to live in these ways we’ve practiced, it would be an amazing world.”


“May I have my ashes spread on Willow Farm?”


“This is rich, deep, juicy work, that everyone can learn and grow from to enrich their daily lives.”


“I absolutely recommend this program for all; caregivers or not.”


“Extremely safe learning space for difficult life issues.”


“Thank you for bringing this to the world.”


“To sit with death and dying is a powerful opportunity to meet life with increased presence.”


“Very helpful in furthering personal spiritual development; enabling heartfelt service.”


“Mindfulness practices are so valuable for this work.”