Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jesse Murphy

Gunbarrel churches collaborate on project


April 14, 2018

Several Gunbarrel-area churches will be teaming up this coming summer to host a series of meetings about The Conversation Project.

The Conversation Project started about six years ago on the East Coast and spread quickly, forming in Boulder County just a year later.

The idea behind the project is to have open and honest talks with family about end-of-life care.

Constance Holden, director of The Conversation Project in Boulder County, said that the goal is to focus on three things; the first is for the individual to examine how they see their care.

“The aim of the organization is to foster meaningful and effective conversations about end of life care,” Holden said. “We encourage people who are well to think about what kind of care we would like at the end of our life, and to choose a decision-maker for us so in the event we can’t make our own, there would be somebody who could.”

From there, a person decides what values they want from the care, and finally having the conversation with their family about what they want.

“It goes beyond completing documents that we tend to put in a drawer,” Holden said. “We think, we’ll that’s done. This is about sitting down with our families and having a meaningful conversation. Families can be torn apart by needing to make these decisions and having disagreements on what to do. The individual is important and so is the family.”

Holden has worked in the healthcare industry for over 40 years, as well as serving as an ethics consultant for Boulder Community Health, so she has seen her share of families not knowing what to do for their loved ones.

“I saw that far too often, people’s families were in a quandary when it was time to make decisions for their loved ones, and they had no idea what their loved one wanted,” Holden said. “It can cause a great deal of angst because they have to make difficult decisions without knowing what their loved one wanted.

“It doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have control over what’s going to happen to us at the end of life in many situations. But what we do have control over is having these conversations with our family.”

To start things off, there will be a talk on the subject by best-selling author of Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Katy Butler. The book is about Butler’s experience dealing with her parents’ end of life care.

The talk will be from 7 to 8 p.m. on April 18 at Har HaShem, 3950 Baseline Road. After the presentation, there will be a book signing, refreshments and time to talk.

Beginning June 13, St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church, 4775 Cambridge Street in Heatherwood, will start a movie series that covers a variety of topics concerning end of life care, what questions to ask, and how to have the conversation.

Sarah Jane Delany with St. Mary Magdalene said that this is something that typically isn’t discussed, but should be.

“We have sex talks with our teenagers, or how not to be bullied conversations,” Delany said. “But we seem to not have the conversation about end of life wishes. The Conversation Project was created to address those very questions, and there are many at the end.

“Even though we think we know our family well, when it comes to the time when a loved one passes, we really don’t know.”

She added that with a large portion of our country approaching retirement age and beyond, now is a good time to discuss these matters with your family.

“Being in a Christian community, it’s one of the things that we look at, end of life issues,” Delany said. “Passing away is every bit a part of life. Many people, especially with today’s technology in medical choices, it’s overwhelming. As our parents live longer, we become a sandwich generation, if you will. With all of the baby boomers that are coming up, how do we handle all of these things?”

Delany said that the churches in Heatherwood got together to bring the series to the area, and many other Gunbarrel churches were interested as well, so they decided to combine efforts.

The series will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday nights, running every two weeks into the fall. All of the events are free and open to the public. Childcare will be provided for free, but advance notice is required.

For more information, visit www.smmboulder.org, call the church at 303-530-1421, or visit www.theconversationprojectinboulder.org.


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