Planning for Our "End of Life Issues" Seminar

Planning for Our "End of Life Issues" Seminar

As I have been saying for some time, I want to prepare / lead an end of life class for our church. I’d like to do so as a group effort. I have reached out to people I recognized — by personal or professional experience / style — might be interested in helping me with this class. I don’t need a huge group of helpers, but I want this to be a “for us / by us” effort because I believe that the faith community is the best place to begin to consider and discuss such issues (and good prep. for doing so in your family afterwards).

So far, Amy, Barry, Bobbi, Clark, Jackie, Harvey, Ian and Teetee have all expressed an interest in helping with the class. That’s probably enough, but if others are interested, please let me know.

in large part, the purpose of this “class” is because I believe our faith calls us to a different approach — maybe even an easier road — for preparing for this eventuality.

I also want to run such a class, because I know that it’s much easier for people who are dying and their loved ones when wishes are already thought through and shared. There are some better choices to be made, and some empowerment to be had in recognizing and taking advantage of the choices, and pairing them with our faith…

Maybe we can help some of our folks prepare, or at least start thinking about preparing or death with their faith as a more direct resource. Wouldn’t it be great if we help some of our folks get their thinking/beliefs in order and share their wishes with their family. Maybe we’ll even end up with a file of people’s funeral wishes at the church.

I’m introducing these sessions in the sermon on Sunday, February 7, the week before Ash Wednesday because I want to use the Transfiguration paired with the “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” verses to try and imagine even the end of our mortal runs as of greater, even transcendent value (rather than an inevitably awful leave-taking).

I am proposing that we run the seminar once a month. I have been thinking we could schedule it as a brown bag lunch on the first Sunday of each month (and maybe even organize to have brown bag lunches for people to buy). I think that spreading the sessions out, people might be able to bear the topic easier. And have room in their own prayers and reflections in between sessions to cover more of their own ground.

I’m hoping that these sessions will be very participative, inviting and leaving room for people to tell stories, listen, pass, laugh as well as cry), more than lectures… End of life issues, no matter how important, are topics we have all kinds of excuses for avoiding!

For the same reason, I’d love to have multiple leaders help me form and lead this. So we can, even in our leadership, have a variety of styles, and idioms and experiences and voices. That’s not just a model for diversity; it can be permission for the other participants…

I found a very good resource that the Mennonite Church has prepared, and I believe if we adapt it to our community, it will serve us very well. In outline form, I can foresee at least 6 sessions, so we may do 3 this spring, and then finish up in the fall. I’d like to encourage people to commit to all the sessions (or as many as possible), as it’s an on-going and cumulative community conversation on end of life issues we hope to create. And it’s not just for those who are chronologically more likely to be closer to that time.

1) Approaching the subject of death (from a Christian perspective)

2) Can there really be “better deaths” or “worth deaths”?

3) Care choices for my last, dying days (and advance directives and medical power of attorney designations)

4) Making My Wishes Known — wills, power of attorney, bequests, obituaries — ending my life respecting how I lived my life.

5) Funeral wishes (and what to do with my body)

6) Necessary family conversations

I hope we will get a good number and a wide range of people involved.

If you are interested in helping me out, let me know.

Please keep yourself open to further notice, plan to be in church on Sunday, Feb. 7, and pray for our effort.