Q&A with Amanda Moment, MSW, LICSW
November 20th, 2020
Amanda Moment is the social worker for the Intensive Palliative Care Unit at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In addition to providing clinical education to social work staff, Amanda is a faculty member of the HMS Center for Palliative Care and teaches in the PCEP and PAPC courses.
Why did you decide to work in palliative care?
When I decided to become a social worker I knew I wanted to work with everyday people who were struggling with major life events. I learned of medical social work, specifically oncology social work. I heard Bruce MacDonald speak about his work, saying that “cancer cuts out the bulls**t” and that you can establish deep therapeutic relationships quickly in the setting of illness and immediately knew that it was what I wanted to do. During my first year as an intern, the conversations about goals of care and advanced illness were most powerful for me and Phil Higgins recruited me into Palliative Care social work where I have been very happy to reside ever since.
Tell us about your area of interest. What drew you to this?
I have a particular interest in Legacy related work, that is, how to help people leave a piece of themselves for their loved ones. Some of the time this comes in the form of helping patients gift/create tangible artifacts (letters, books, jewelry) for younger generations, some of the time it is about drawing awareness to ways people have positively influenced others or taught life lessons, and other times it is about coaching grieving loved ones about how to create a tangible legacy on behalf of their deceased loved one. At its core, it is about making meaning not only of life, but out of suffering, death, and the inevitable process of anticipating leaving.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I have two favorite parts of my work. The first is the genuine connection I am able to make with patients and their families, even during this time of remote work, that grounds me, teaches me constantly, and keeps me feeling engaged. The second is the ability to be a part of an incredible team that inspires me, shares the heaviness of the work, and forever keeps me laughing and learning.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
Two of my favorite professional mottos that have been of use personally are:
- To separate the process from the outcome: this helps me feel so much more satisfied in my work, personal, and parenting lives by keeping me invested in what I put into a situation but divested from the emotional heaviness of how things turn out.
- To live for now and not some future time when things will be different. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow so always making sure to say lots of thank yous and I love yous. Awareness of preciousness is one of the most powerful lessons and might I say, hazards, of our work!
In your spare time, what do you do for fun?
Lots of play time with my kids. Keeps me silly and “in the now.” Lots of time outside with friends. Frequent walks (especially at Mt Auburn Cemetery). Singing, writing, listening to music. Reading books and making books for my kids (I made a Mo Willems book for my son, a graphic novel for my daughter, and next am working on a Berenstain Bear book for both of them).