Many of us in hospice and palliative care have seen firsthand that the process of navigating serious illness and dying for people within our complex health care system can be confusing, crisis-driven, and dis-heartening. Many of our patients and families come into our care without much preparation for the end of life — and sometimes with a sense that they’ve lost track of what matters most.
What outcomes might be possible if instead:
– we reimagined the end of life as a vital, purposeful stage of human development?
– practices of healing – forgiveness, gratitude, and letting go – became essential parts of our care plans?
– wisdom instead of fear informed our challenging decision points?
– we prepared for death in order to live more fully the time that we have?
– the hard work of caregiving was sustainable and meaningful for both family and professional caregivers?
If hospice and palliative care were part of a first wave of innovation in end-of-life care in our country, then what we are experiencing now is a second wave of innovative projects and more open conversations about the place of death. These new ideas are growing from a grassroots level and being inspired by people who are often outside of the health care system. They are bringing a different focus to how we approach death and dying in our culture.
What do we have to learn from each other about new approaches to preparing for death — how might hospice and palliative care organizations benefit from this innovation — and what wisdom do we each bring to the conversation?
This pre-conference presentation will explore these questions — and will include didactic information, reflective practices, and experiential learning.