Talking about death and dying may not always be easy, but it can help you make the most of life and support those you care about. It also doesn’t have to be depressing and we shouldn’t be worried about saying the wrong thing.
As difficult as it is to talk about these things at a tender time, it seems that we are discussing end-of-life issues more openly these days. Everywhere we look, we see people striving to make death more palatable, more expressive, and more meaningful. In fact, some believe we are experiencing an important cultural change with respect of our view of death and dying.
Talk comes in many forms; there is a plethora of blogs, websites, Facebook pages, books, and newspaper articles on death and dying. Discussion groups have popped up everywhere as have workshops, conferences, and retreats. The Conversation Project, founded by Ellen Goodman in 2010, is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. And we found it interesting that a campaign in La Crosse, Wisconsin, resulted in 96 percent of the entire town completing their advance directives, spelling out their wishes for end-of-life care. Activities like this are challenging the one-size-fits-all approach to dying. Meaningful action begins with conversation!
Hospice care is playing an important role in this movement. Because hospice care is relatively new in the United States, the Baby Boomer generation (currently ranging in age from 51 to 69) is the first generation that has witnessed the benefits of hospice care for their parents. They desire good quality of life at home with pain and symptoms well-controlled. They want to know what their choices are throughout the entire health care continuum, including the final phase of life. So it is no surprise that Baby Boomers are leading the way in welcoming conversation about all aspects of end-of-life matters.
Friends of Hospice is uniquely positioned in the community to offer opportunities for dialogue to take place. One of our goals is to bring people together around a wide variety of topics from improving the quality of our lives at any age to the more weighty matters of death and dying. We want to create unique collaborations that will encourage engagement and result in greater understanding. Good things will happen as a result!
Watch for events – both social/informal and formal – that Friends of Hospice will sponsor or invite you to attend. And if social media is your thing, “talk” to each other there, too!
Speaking of social media, our End of Life Matters page on Facebook is a collection of great articles, book reviews, and opinion pieces that Friends of Hospice members will enjoy browsing through. We’ve curated these from what we believe are the best of what’s out there. And feel free to share ones that you come across.