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Available on Amazon

Lessons on Loss
Not Taught


The Art of Hospice:
How Dying Can Hold Insight, Grace and Beauty

Mary Artino, M.S.W.

Mary Artino is a medical social worker with a fifteen-year career in hospice. Her recently published book, "Lessons on Loss Not Taught", is available on Amazon. She believes that loss is a subject that isn’t addressed often in American culture, and that much more can be done to begin teaching children about loss and death. The book is a collection of short stories on loss that begins with her own experiences with death and loss within her family. The author believes that death is one of the most profound teachers one can experience and that the lessons she learned from her father and grandmother, prepared her to recognize the grace in the dying process.

Death is all around us, every day, we can choose to embrace the cycle of life or to label it as something foreboding. Making the choice a conscious one can bring healing energy to loss.”


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What People are Saying

"What a gift this book has been. Mary Artino’s eloquent portrayal of her family imparts the wisdom, humor and kindness that her sensitive heart and mind absorbed from her family. Her writing not only describes her experience but throughout the book, we learn how Mary has taken the lessons learned from an early age and has shared that wisdom and compassion in her work as a hospice social worker."


April 25, 2021- Amazon

In the press
What the book supports

I chose two beneficiaries of the proceeds of Lessons on Loss Not Taught, the Rukundo Integrity Primary
School, in Hoima, Uganda, and the Big Island Writers’ Workshop, lead by Beth Bornstein Dunnington.


The reason I selected these organizations is that I believe in the importance of education for creating opportunities for refugee children, fleeing violent governments, and for any woman who
wishes to write to be able to experience the support of Beth and her fellow writers. Muhumuza Jackson and I met each other through friends on FaceBook. I agreed to step in and sponsor a
child whom my friend was temporarily unable to help. We began getting to know one another slowly, as I had rarely gotten to know anyone like this. One could say that our relationship grew in a quite organic way.

I learned that Muhumuza had been raised by his grandmother, Mahoro Tamari, after losing his parents when he was quite young. He never got to know his father, Kazungu John, but he has memories of his mother, Vanis Janet. He told me that his grandmother was more important to him than he could explain. “She raised me and gave me her values, she was everything to me,” he said. He was three when he lost his father, ten when his mother died and six years ago his beloved grandmother died.

We began our exchange on FB messenger, writing long notes about our lives and asking each other about things we were curious about. We progressed to email and speaking over the phone as our
friendship and trust grew. I grew to respect him first and to love him over time. We shared beliefs in the values of education and
integrity. Muhumuza spoke of his concerns for the number of refugee children from other African countries who came to Uganda in hopes of surviving the brutal governments and tribal warfare. The children lived in refugee camps, where they were housed and fed, but they received no education or skill-building.

Over time, we began to envision a school where children could learn about values and love peace. We were/are two people who don’t see how we differ as barriers. We both feel compelled to do what we can to aid in the future of mankind, so we chose to focus on the potential of our efforts.

The Rukundo Integrity Primary School began to take shape, much like the organic progress of a seed into a flower or a fruit. We moved slowly and deliberately; I found a couple of people who could verify Mr. Jackson’s authenticity and that of Building African Communities Opportunities, an organization that he chairs. BACO is made up of tireless individuals who are driven to create and nurture opportunities for education and survival.


Our efforts moved forward, as we found five others, then more, like-minded people from around the world, who were willing to commit to a plan. None of us knew each other, but we all believed that we could work together to build something to benefit children and families living in extreme poverty. Today, the Rukundo Integrity School has over 400 students. It has strong walls, floors, and desks which have been built by small donations, and some as large as $2,000. This remarkable school has grown in response to the needs of the children and their families. Muhumuza and I have grown a deep bond that feels like a family bond. Thanks to technology, we have made nearly all decisions from construction materials to the colors and fabrics of the uniforms, together, in real-time. Muhumuza and his wife, Irakoze Napona, became parents to Princess Karyne, their biological daughter, and last year they adopted Ayebale an orphaned six-year-old boy.


We don’t share any blood in common, but we are a family, and, on this day, we are building opportunities for another child from the village, Rosemary, to complete her first year of college. Hopefully, one day, the children from the Rukundo Integrity School will return to help and inspire others in their homeland.

The Mission

My book was born in Beth’s workshops and my life focus changed, because of finding my voice. 

The integrity of the women I have met in these workshops has inspired me to become a more grateful and compassionate person. I have witnessed the pain and the triumphs of life under challenges that were unknown to me. I watched women who were broken by experiences rebuild their lives and create works of great meaning. The impact of speaking about our most profound losses and uncovering our enormous strengths has built a bond that is sacred to me. The stories told in those rooms, whether in person, or in Zoom Rooms, have been vital to the writers’ growth and ability to navigate systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, sexual exploitation, and substance abuse. The workshops take place in cities around the United States, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Boston, Carmel, San Francisco, and New York City, as well as on the Big Island and, since Covid-19, in ZoomRooms. Geography needn’t be a deterrent to women wishing to write, but more cities may open up as it becomes safe. Reality is the best teacher and opportunities to hear about the realities of other peoples’ lives create the building blocks for peace, ethical values, and the skills for survival in uncertain times. Muhumuza Jackson, Beth Bornstein Dunnington, and I share these values and I want my work to support theirs.

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