Living / Dying Conversation:
End of Life Decisions
Sunday, Feb. 24 ~ 4:30 – 6:00 pm
Friends Meeting House, Rm 12
4312 SE Stark, Portland
Donations at the door appreciated but not required – all are welcome.
Living / Dying Conversations is an ongoing series that moves discussion and reflection on the profound interface of life and death out of medical, academic, and religious institutions, and into community.
On Feb. 24, we will consider scenarios and choices that most of us will face at end of life. In addition to discussion about “advance directives,” we’ll reflect on more personal issues, concerns, and decisions related to how we approach the end of our lives.
Trauma and disease can occur at any stage of life, and accordingly, these conversations are open to individuals of all ages, including those who work in hospice, caregiving, or medical capacities.
Reflection on death and dying is generally avoided in American culture, yet these very reflections can yield a vibrant sense of what it means to be fully alive, to embrace the full, wild truth of mortality – that innate condition of everyone and everything we have ever known and loved.
While none of us can anticipate the exact cause and time of our death, we know that dying is the primary shared experience of everyone and everything that lives. Yet in our death-fearing culture, we’re discouraged from openly considering death, from allowing it into our hearts and minds, in both its remarkable ordinariness and its unparalleled immensity.
This ongoing series will address practical, social, and spiritual issues surrounding death. Perhaps most importantly, we will consider our own experiences with vulnerability, loss, grief, fear, caregiving, and suffering – the strongest grist for the mill as we live and die.
Without promoting a particular interpretation of death, or speculating on what happens after we die, these conversations welcome discussion and recognition of what we DO know: what happens to the body during and after death; the psychological, emotional, and spiritual significance of death; practical and impractical aspects of care as terminal conditions progress; the complexities of “getting our affairs in order;” the impact of death on those who survive; cultural and social conventions, norms, and beliefs relating to death; our rights as we die and the rights of our loved ones in caring for us.
We hope this program will provide opportunity to cultivate a deep, safe, conscious awareness of death as the central fact of life. Over time, we hope to serve as a resource for those who are dying – providing information and materials, spiritual practices and support, creative arts and expression, practical tools and services.
In a death-phobic culture, dread of death contributes to profound problems personally and in society – alienation, fear, greed, aggression, and consumerism, to name a few. Beginning to look clearly at death, we find life becomes more vibrant and more precious, even as death becomes less fearful. We welcome you to join this conversation and be part of this journey.
The initial seed conversation for this program involved Living Earth community members who have faced potentially terminal diagnoses, people whose lives have been transformed by grief, as well as hospice professionals, educators, and volunteers.