On October 29, 2016, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon held a workshop entitled "A Christian Ending to Our Life." The Pan-Orthodox event was designed to provide participants with an opportunity to discuss end-of-life care planning and learn about various resources to help them make their wishes known. This included providing everyone with cards from the Go Wish Game in addition to utilizing the Conversation Starter Kit.
The workshop emphasized the importance of including family members of all generations when discussing end-of-life concerns. This is because talking about death not only allows for improved healing after incurring a loss of a loved one, but it also helps avoid conflict once a family member becomes ill and is unable to communicate their wishes.
Participants, ranging in age from 30 to 87, were asked to sort through the Go Wish cards during the workshop and encouraged to discuss the wishes that were most important to them. As they shared common hopes and concerns about their end-of-life requests, they participated in a coffee tasting to emphasize that bonding over something as simple as a cup of coffee can help begin a difficult conversation.
Matushka Jenny Schroedel was the keynote speaker for the event and helped advise parishioners while providing anecdotes from her experience working as a hospice chaplain.
The event was facilitated by Valerie Smith, a member of the parish's St. Elizabeth Pastoral Health Ministry, and organized with the Very Reverend George Gray, Rector
The workshop was a continuation of the parish’s history of leading end-of-life planning events and the 2003 creation of Resources in Preparation for Death, Dying and Burial.
Now that members of the parish communities in the Portland area have been equipped with resources for discussing their end-of-life wishes, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church will help folks take the next step towards formalizing their care plans. A follow-up event dedicated to educating parishioners about forms such as the POLST form, Advance Directives, Retirement Income, Estate Planning, Long-term Care, etc., will occur in February of 2017.
For further information, please feel free to contact:
Jenny Schroedel — firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Smith — email@example.com
Fr. George Gray — firstname.lastname@example.org
CODA Alliance GoWish Cards — http://codaalliance.org/go-wish/
The Conversation Booklet — http://theconversationproject.org/starter-kit/intro/