... I found Eliott's work to offer insight into the dying process that no training has ever been able to convey.

Valerie Jones, LMSW, Program Coordinator,

The Center for Grieving Children,

Portland, Maine 

Eliott's performance is powerful, rich and raw -- absolutely mesmerizing from start to finish -- and the opportunity for discussion and conversation afterwards was a welcome bonus ...     

Susan Kocen,*eRa* Senior Community

Coordinator, Q Center, Portland, Oregon

© 2016 Eliott Cherry, All Rights Reserved  

Past or current clients

and supporters

​(partial list)


JSL Foundation

 American Association of Critical Care Nurses

Simmons College Graduate
Program in Primary
Health Care Nursing, Boston

Fife Family Foundation


Ocean Park, Maine

University of New England

University of Maine

University of Southern Maine

Cancer Community Center, Portland, ME

Carol Ayres

Center for Grieving Children, Portland, ME

Hospice of Southern Maine

Cancer Care Center
of York County, ME

Holocaust & Human Rights
Center of Maine, Augusta

L/A Arts, Lewiston, ME

Beacon Hospice, Auburn, ME

Edward Little High School, Auburn, ME

Auburn Public Library, ME

​PDX Death Cafe

Death Talk Project

​Portland, OR

A Finished Heart has been presented by the Northwest Association of Death Education and Bereavement Support (Portland, OR) as clinical continuing education approved by the National Association of Social Work (NASW)

Portland, Oregon

In my 35 years as a nurse, nurse practitioner,

and educator, I have never experienced any performance that so clearly and eloquently describes the process of living through the

death of a loved one.    

Patsy Thompson Leavitt, MS, FNP, Executive Director, Leavitt's Mill Free Health Center

... a real life view of many concepts with which we deal frequently in social work classes ... relationships; negotiation; death; spirituality; empowerment; self-care; and authenticity.         Sandy Butler, PhD, Professor of Social Work, University of Maine, Orono

We've received extremely positive feedback ... It is not often that such personal work reverberates with the experiences of so many. Shelley Cohen Konrad, PhD, Director, Interprofessional Education Collaborative, School of Social Work, University of

New England

 A Finished Heart will help you to better understand what it means to show up and be present with life, love, and ultimately death. [read more]

Jana DeCristofaro, LCSW, Coordinator of Children's Grief Services, The Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children and Families, Portland, Oregon

I felt like I was in the room – I felt like I was experiencing some of the same emotions – those raw emotions that are so precious to people who love. Camille Hopkins, Researcher, University of Chicago

​​... opens our hearts to a tenderness and compassion which might well serve to awaken us to a deeper sense of openness and presence ... A gripping and soulful performance.

Rev. Dr. Glenn H. Turner, Portland, Maine

Eliott Cherry reveals the most intimate moments of a loving relationship. He shows that in this time of dying there is life lived to the fullest: humor, compassion, dedication, forgiveness, and even anger and frustration. The whole performance is so deeply moving that, at the end, one is inspired simply to sit in silence.     Connie Cross, Board President, Allen Avenue Universalist Church, Portland, Maine

The reality of grief is that it scares us. Grief and the anticipation of grief taps into some of our greatest fears of the unknown. By candidly sharing his experiences as his husband was dying, Eliott Cherry allows all of us to see that we survive and go on to remember when we experience loss. Eliott shows us how love is never extinguished.

Jane Mayer, LCSW, Grief and loss psychotherapist, Portland, Oregon

... deeply moving and unforgettable ... I was left with a sense of deep reverence for life and for the profound possibilities of being present to love, which death's encounter invites.
Caroline Loupe, Licensed Clinical Counselor, Portland, Maine

When I was a teen growing up in the 70’s, depth of emotion was hidden and not discussed, because to talk about what you felt was embarrassing and made you feel weak. Those were the times. Teens are fortunate that today’s society is more accepting of emotional expression. Still, teens spend much time 'feeling alone' and at times they may feel that there is 'something wrong' with the depth of their emotions. That is not true. Seeing A Finished Heart ... brought back those teen memories of 'feeling' and not knowing if it was okay. Listening to A Finished Heart made me feel like it was. I think the same may happen with today’s teens.

Sally Holt, Collaboration/Teen Librarian, Auburn Public Library, Maine

The story is a universal one that can impact any committed relationship, regardless of orientation. It is one of love and compassion and commitment, getting to the absolute essence of what it means to be committed to love. I do not believe that anyone experiencing your play can fail to experience both the despair and the triumph of love.     Ron Braithwaite, Portland, Oregon

... I've had more than 70 hours of grief training, serve as a Hospice volunteer and am a student at USM's MS/NP options program. Even with many hours of training under one's belt, there is still a lot to learn with regard to individual perspectives. It was outstanding, truly excellent. Theresa Roelke, Maine

Strong material ... I found myself being cracked open as I listened ... Not just sitting outside, looking in, but rather sitting right next to you. Death is very sacred and personal, without rules or logic. You conveyed the intangible of intimacy in your lives so beautifully in this performance.
     Mary Jo Carlsen, Musician, Music Educator, Maine

... a deft combination of prose, poetry and music ... a highly personal story of the emotional life of a relationship told through the prism of a great trial ... a testament to both [Eliott Cherry's] skills as a performer and to the material ... that I didn't even want to end.      
Jon Poupore, Musician, Maine

This was an amazing piece that seemed more like an intense 20-30 minutes rather than the hour+ it actually was. Eliott segued smoothly from humor to sadness, and from narration to re-enactment of some of the last conversations he had with his dying husband. The music he composed for it was perfect for the piece.
     Bill Barnert, Cambridge Men's Group, Massachusetts

As someone who had also been widowed, I resonated with A Finished Heart. ... I much appreciated the craft of this piece. It is filled with details that draw the audience into the inherent drama of the story. ... full of emotion without being sentimental, full of the personal without losing its universal appeal. 
A Finished Heart is a view from the inside. There were moments when I first saw the piece during which I wanted to rush out of the hall, get away from its intensity, but I also wanted to experience its power to draw my own sorrow out of me.​​ Denis Ledoux, Author, Director of Soleil Lifestory Network, Maine

I attended the peformance of A Finished Heart on Sunday, May 25, 2014 at the Unitarian Church in downtown Portland [Oregon]. As a hospice chaplain, I was eager to hear Eliott's story. I sat in the front row so I could see and hear plainly. Not long after I was seated, a woman whom I did not know asked if anyone was sitting next to me. I said, "no, but you are more than welcome." We introduced ourselves by name and had a brief exchange before the performance got under way.

From the start of seeing and hearing Eliott, I was drawn into the power and beauty of this incredible story of love and companionship, and the truth-telling of journeying together through life, into death, and more life. My heart was broken open to those deeper places within me that long for connection, reconciliation, and belonging. I was moved with gratitude and wonder.

After the performance ended, we were invited to enter into a short time of silence for reflection and contemplation. I felt moved to touch the woman next to me, so I reached out and placed my hand on her knee not knowing how she would respond. She in turn, took my hand in hers. In the silence, we held on to one another. The movement and power of Eliott's performance created an unspoken bond between us that was both profound and ordinary.

Thank you, Eliott, for creating space within my heart and the hearts of many to give and receive love in ways unimagined. I know for certain that I will show up again for A Finished Heart.
Mary Elizabeth Peterson, Portland, Oregon

Anonymous Audience Comments

  • You could taste it in some moments and smell it in some moments, and then, I loved the humor ... it helps the audience stay with you ... it bubbles a little bit, it was lovely and you can really see in those moments of laughter, the love.

  • This was a wonderful experience for me and my friends ... I hope my boyfriend and I stay together and be as happy as you two were.

  • Most touching, loved it. Entertaining, I had tears, smiles, laughter, and calm — loved it. I could feel your love for Chris in every word.

  • Your story was very touching and should continue to be told. I love how courageous you are. You are truly inspirational. Thank you!

  • I am exhausted. A wonderful experience.

  • The performance meant a lot to me, since I have a really hard time dealing with the death of people close to me. Hearing this performance really helped me get an understanding of the grieving process.

  • The performance meant (in my opinion) that, getting over the grief that seems to swallow your soul, is a lot harder, but, you can get through it. The [discussion] experience was really cool. I thought that the questions were very emotional. It let me relate to the people and the story better.

  • The experience of a discussion afterwards allowed me to process the entire performance. It gave me insight to how other people were feeling and made me realize that I was not alone in the feelings I was having.

  • The performance was very heartfelt and inspirational to me. The [discussion] experience was one of a kind and extremely helpful in learning how some people cope with the loss of a significant other, and the step that they take before losing them.

  • The story itself was beautiful. I found myself crying most of the time. The story showed true love and how difficult it is letting them go, but helping them leave can also be a reward. I thought the piano added a touch of surrealism and the light truly brought a piece of Chris into the room. I loved the performance and would love to see it again. The post-performance discussion was very enlightening. We got to hear others and some of their stories and how to cope a different way with death.

  • The performance was amazing. I loved it. It was so heart felt. I got chills so many times during it! It was very moving and I was happy to have been able to watch it. I have never seen anything like it before and I am so happy that you are able to perform it.

  • [The discussion] brought back a lot of feelings for me of when I lost my great, great grandfather. It was really hard when I lost him. Talking about it more I got really to understand more about how other people are affected by similar things. When we were talking I started to share but it really got me teary eyed thinking about what it was like when he passed.

  • It meant a lot to me. It really showed me how brave someone can be to share something so personal with people he doesn't even know.

  • The story and performance was very emotional. it made me think of how things are for other people and how people only think about themselves. [The discussion] was very heavy and in depth. I really enjoyed his openness and [being] willing to talk about one of the hardest things he went through and telling us that it was part of his coping ... to share his story with others.

  • It was an amazing performance and I was really moved by this, I don't know how I could handle a thing like that. It was nice asking questions on how you felt and how you got through this.

  • It meant a lot to me, I could relate in many ways to your story. How real you were about it. It made it seem you were actually talking to your husband.

Quick Responses

  • ​"Insights into a marriage."
  • "How hard it is to support someone dying."
  • "Reminds me of intimacy I don't experience in my life."
  • "Music, poetry really allowed me to enter in more fully."
  • "Amazingly helpful in naming my own experience."
  • "Good to put a spotlight on death."
  • "I felt connected to the 'Characters' and their bravery."
  • "Complexity and unpredictability of dying experience."
  • "I hung on every word Chris said and I appreciated Eliott  sharing

           the realness of the wisdom and peace interspersed with grief."

  • "I learned from the honesty of the script."
  • "I viewed it as an outpouring of love and a way of using

           grief/mourning  in a meaningful way."

  • "It gives me confidence for what's to come."
  • "It moved me beyond belief."
  • "Another understanding about the last moments of life."
  • "It needs to be available to more people."
  • "Helped me access feelings for my children who will be with me as I am old and die."
  • "It opened up a space where I could consider and reflect on life's powerful challenges

           while also seeing the strength, grace and beauty of being in those challenges."


... this powerful piece allowed us to learn from a narrative of experience, gave us insights that we might not otherwise uncover and opened important dialogues ...  Susan B. Sepples RN, CCRN, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Southern Maine School of Nursing

It will lead to increased empathy and cultural competency resulting in improved health

care quality. ...

Timothy J. Richardson, MD,

VA Maine Healthcare System

The students brought a sense of vulnerability

and sensitivity to the discussion and after the performance they were visibly impacted by the many messages that were conveyed by Eliott

and his music. ...   Leslie Morrill, Assistant Principal, Edward Little High School, Auburn, Maine

... incredibly moving ... levity and insight ... eloquent poetry, beautiful music and pithy dialogue ... I know first hand what an effective piece of theatre it is.

Wil Kilroy, Actor/Director

The performance was intimate, and very moving. Folks in attendance have provided feedback which includes show descriptions such as "raw", "honest", "relevant" ...​ Liz Rodriguez,

Co-Chair, Employee Resource Group: Prism,

Multnomah County, Oregon

A Finished Heart

The level of raw emotion shows Eliott's ability to connect with any audience. He shares his experience so completely and without reservation. I felt the audience connect with his honesty ...     Karen Pierce-Stewart,

Executive Director, Cancer Care Center of York County, Maine

I have to admit that I found myself feeling a bit anxious as the lights dimmed, the music began, and you started to speak. Clearly, it reflected my own discomfort with death and dying. But my anxiety quickly subsided as you drew me and other audience members into your personal world ...         Sandra L. Caron, Ph.D., Professor of Family Relations, University of Maine, Orono

Compassion & Choices

Inspiring Life and Love