A sacred space to say goodbye



Administrators, doctors and hospital staff gathered in a unique room at Upstate University Hospital one weekday this winter for a rededication ceremony. Technically the room is known as the viewing room, and like those found at funeral parlors, it is for loved ones who need a place to say goodbye. The space was updated with furniture and artwork painted by hospital volunteer Garcia Sears.

The Rev. Terry Culbertson, who leads the spiritual care program at Upstate, said the Irish have another name for the space: The Thin Place. Culbertson spoke at the ceremony.

“The Thin Place is a place where the veil between the heaven and earth is very thin, and a place where the two worlds coexist in a loosely knitted relationship,” she said. “It’s also called the liminal space. ‘Liminal’ is from the Latin, meaning ‘threshold,’ which we walk across between this world and the next.

“Describing the meaning of the Thin Place is like trying to describe what is love, or what does it feel like to hold your firstborn child or your firstborn grandchild, or the existence of God,” Culbertson continued.

“When you’re in the Thin Place, time seems to stand still. There’s a communion with human spirits, both those who have gone before us, those who are here, and those who will come to be with us. It’s about connection to the sacred. And so, we are very grateful for this Thin Place, this special room.”




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