We at Programs in Bowen Theory were so looking forward to the day’s conference Dr. Monika Baege was to do for us in November on the importance of the clinicians ability to be a self in their family. Dr. Baege died peacefully with her family around her, of a cancer she had managed for 15 years. Monika was considered an outlier in terms of how long she survived with the cancer she had. Known for her resilience, as late as a few weeks before she died she was trying to figure when she might be able to make it out to Northern California to do the conference.
Dr. Baege’s death is a big loss for the network around Bowen theory. As the director of the Vermont Center for Family Studies, Erik Thompson said in his November 23 eulogy for Monika,
“Monika was a creative researcher…. Having published the original research on Murray Bowen’s archives in her doctoral dissertation , Monika later became a leader in the effort to preserve the archives at the National Library of Medicine… The researcher in Monika expanded into a fascinating teacher. She was just coming into her own as an inspiring national presenter from Worcester, to Pittsburgh, to California…. And quoting another colleague, ’She was brave and calm in the face of challenge which gave others courage too.’
Certainly, the kind of program Dr. Baege prepared on being a self in the family was based on a personal effort that requires a kind of courage not everyone has, to risk the safe inside position for one outside the family emotional system. Murray Bowen first published on this kind of an effort in his Anonymous paper in 1972, and Monika was one who continued the pioneering exploration of how one does this and with what impact for self and the family.
A poem by Erik Thompson from his eulogy for Monika Baege sums up the loss for many of us in the network…
Mountain travelers at night appreciate a lantern bearer,
But sometimes you lose one too soon.
Some adventurers disappear into the night, leaving questions….
…She was a pioneer