NYer of the Week: Nancy Gershman Brings Light to Families During Their Darkest Hours

The latest New Yorker of the Week helps patients during the end of their life illustrate their most precious memories for generations to come. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

For some families of patients nearing their final days, a connection to the past can instill comfort and restore peace of mind.   

"I remember my grandmother as someone whose heart was sometimes too big for her own good," says Andre Perez, the family member of a hospice patient. "So big that she tried to fit the world in it if she could."

Artist Nancy Gershman shares her compassion as a volunteer at the Visiting Nurse Service of New York’s Haven Hospice.

Sitting bedside with families, Nancy listens as they share memories. She then brings those stories to life by digitally editing photographs and creating a "Dreamscape."

"As beautiful as this hospice, and as calming as the staff is, they’re still in distress they know that there's an impending death," Nancy says. "I try to create a storytelling portrait of an event or an experience that they can carry into the future."

By illustrating how loved ones want to be remembered, she works to give families a sense of hope.

"My mother was always the life of the party. She would come in and have a big smile, and she would love music and she would dance. And she was not a wallflower, believe me," says Linda Valli Morales, the family member of a hospice care patient.

Nancy visits the hospice at least three times a week. She's created more than a hundred Dreamscapes.

"Meeting them where they're at introducing herself in terms that they can understand. And she is an incredible listener and passionate about what she does and compassionate," said Maureen Gillard, a social worker with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. "So it's been this really beautiful enhancement of the work that we’re already doing here."

"We're going to miss her and we want other generations to come, to see what we, those who have been fortunate to have been around her. So I think that's really a wonderful gift," Morales says.

So, for bringing light to families during their darkest hours, Nancy Gershman is the latest New Yorker of the Week.

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