From left: Mark Lipman, Grace Dammann and Helen Cohen

From left: Mark Lipman, Grace Dammann and Helen Cohen

On April 19, BWHers attended a screening of the documentary film “States of Grace” and had the pleasure of meeting the subject of the film, Grace Dammann, MD, along with the film’s directors.

The film shares the story of Dammann, an HIV specialist in San Francisco who was seriously injured in a head-on collision on the Golden Gate Bridge in 2008.

“The film is one of the most honest, informative and inspiring documentaries about illness and recovery that I have ever seen,” said Carolyn Becker, MD, of the BWH Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, who saw the film at a conference in Portland, Oregon, last year. “When I first saw it, I knew it could carry great appeal for our housestaff and faculty, showing how a severe and sudden life event can lead to disability, family tensions, loss of sense of self and ultimate healing and renewal.”

Thanks to the generous financial support of Marshall Wolf, MD, emeritus vice chairman for medical education at BWH, and his wife, Katie, the film was shown at the hospital. Wolf believed the film was especially important for medical students and residents to view and learn from because it includes many lessons about caregiving and recovery.

Following the screening, Dammann and directors Helen Cohen and Mark Lipman answered questions from the audience about the documentary and Dammann’s journey.

BWH chaplain Monique Cerundolo, of Spiritual Care Services, said it was an honor to learn more about Dammann’s story as she responded to questions.

“The program was greatly pertinent to the work we do at the Brigham every day, portraying through Grace’s story the feelings, challenges and needs of patients and caregivers,” said Cerundolo. “Her journey is as profound, painful and inspiring as her strong spirit. Her presence was a gift.”

Abbie Engelstad, also a chaplain in Spiritual Care Services, meets patients and their families at particular moments on their journey, whether it’s just after experiencing trauma, returning to the hospital following a setback or during a routine check-in that has become part of a patient’s daily life.

“Watching Grace move through all of those moments in the film, and the huge range of emotions she and her caregivers felt along the way, reminded me of the deep reserves of strength and resilience our patients and their families need in order to move through each day, much less thrive,” Engelstad said. “Most inspiring of all was witnessing Dr. Dammann transform when she went back to practicing medicine. This strengthened my conviction that a sense of purpose is vitally important for the dignity, healing and well-being of all of our patients.”

To learn more about “States of Grace” and view the trailer, visit