Blue Ridge Literacy (BRL) will host events throughout the month around this year’s Roanoke Valley Reads “Big Reads” selection, When Breath Becomes Air, by Dr. Paul Kalinithi. The thought-provoking book is a personal journal following a diagnosis of terminal cancer. The community-wide gatherings are free and open to the public.
On October 12 at 7pm, there will be panel of leading religious leaders (Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic) from throughout the area at Hollins University Chapel who will share their respective faith tradition’s understanding of and practices in dealing with death and dying.
Members of the regional retirement community will have the opportunity to participate in a book review and discussion on When Breath Becomes Air on October 18 at 2pm at Richfield. Participating book clubs include Richfield, Brandon Oaks, The Glebe, Pheasant Ridge, Friendship, and several others. This discussion will include how the book speaks to their individual understanding of death and informs the meaning of life.
On November 1 at 7pm, Dr. Thomas Milam, a psychiatrist with Carilion, and chaplains from two area hospices will be joined by hospice patients, discussing death and dying from a front-line and first-hand perspective in the auditorium at the downtown Roanoke library.
On November 3, the Taubman Museum will host a discussion on “Death and the Medical Community.” This panel will talk about how a physician’s humanity and mortality informs their profession. Here, the medical community including students of Jefferson College and Virginia Tech-Carilion Medical School, will discuss the challenge of facing death, both personally and professionally.
There will also be a free showing of the film, WIT, based on the award-winning play of the same name, at the Community High School on November 13 at 7pm. The film concerns the experiences, observations, and relationships of a college professor who is dying of cancer. Go to for details on upcoming events and how you can get involved!