Life presents odd circumstances. We cannot avoid having conversations about death, but we treat the topic of dying as taboo. Using four brief vignettes on April 30, 2015, the “Speaking of Dying” convocation organized by Interfaith Community Services and hosted by St. Philip’s In The Hills became alive with conversations.
People need to talk about dying because it is part of living, and this conference clearly struck that note. The 140 attendees represented a variety of denominations, congregations, world religions, and unaffiliated people who all understand dying is an issue confronting the living human spirit, and it deserves to be talked about sooner than later.
So what did we talk about? Here are a few of the take-away points when sitting with someone ready to share their wishes around dying.
- Let them guide the conversation. Each conversation will be as unique as a fingerprint.
- Don’t be afraid of the subject.
- Don’t bring an agenda or goals to the conversation.
- Don’t judge or critique what a person says.
- Do let silence happen.
- Do listen with the ear of the heart): active listening is the greatest gift one can give.
- Step away from the conversation when necessary. But by all means return to it and participate.
The new Community of Hope lay pastoral care ministry at St. Philip’s has a team of trained listeners ready to help you or your family begin this conversation. There is also a helpful St. Philip’s publication, an end-of-life planning booklet, available here, as well as on St. Philip’s web site (scroll down). If you wish to find someone with whom you can talk, please contact Chuck Jones or the Rev. Vicki Hesse.