Barbara Levine, Compassionate Caregiver To Mourners, Now Mourned Herself

"I knew Barbara Levine first as a nurse and later as she helped our family deal with loss. Barbara was a compassionate caregiver — she had the capacity to tune in to the needs of others, to be present and to "hold" family members through their grief. Her passing is our community's loss."

Those words come from Dr. Beth Lown, medical director of the Schwartz Center For Compassionate Healthcare in Boston — where they know compassion when they see it. And similar sentiments are echoing around town in the wake of Barbara's death Wednesday at age 58 from ovarian cancer. An obituary in the Globe conveys the extraordinary warmth and joy she brought to her job running Levine Chapels, a Jewish funeral home in Brookline that has been owned by her family since 1893.

“One thing was so unusual about her,’’ said her brother Richard of North Hollywood, Calif. “Here she dealt with death all the time, but she was one of the most joyful people I’ve ever known. She was just such a real person and embraced life so fully.’’

That was true when she helped families deal with the death of a loved one and true when she faced the illness that would end her life.

“She loved people and loved giving to people,’’ said her brother Jerry of Brookline. “If she could do something that would make someone’s life happier, she did it.’’

On the eve of hospital stays for extensive chemotherapy, he said, she would “bake brownies and cookies and bring them in to all the nurses and go around the floor giving them out.’’

For readers who knew Barbara, her online memorial site is here.

This program aired on July 1, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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