When this blog rally (now in its third year) began, I instantly decided to participate. In the array of things we have to think about, how we die is important. And, having had quite a few deaths (some here and here) among family and friends, I wanted to contribute in any small way to those facing end-of-life issues.
Little did I realize how soon its purpose would become manifest in our family. In the past few months, we've tackled all the questions on The One Slide below. And, thanks to the terrific "Art of Dying Conference" at Menla Mountain in early October, we've started into detailing the fine points. Friends, the kind of work that our family is engaged in is sad, difficult, and strangely wonderful. So much falls away at moments like these and the inner, often silent, parts of ourselves speak, sometimes in ways that make us laugh, others as nightmares.
Below, I'm reproducing the text that those of us in the rally all are posting. I can't recommend answering the questions on the slide at the Thanksgiving table but I do suggest that in your soon-to-come trytophan stupor you begin the conversation. In our experience, it will be easier for some people than others. Each of us has to answer the questions for ourselves eventually. Don't put it off until you're so consumed with sadness that you can't think clearly.
And, in the interest of levity, which has to be part of this, a photo I snapped recently at the hospital where we spend too much time these days.
Things we are grateful for this year
For three years running now, many of us bloggers have participated in what we’ve called a “blog rally” to promote Engage With Grace – a movement aimed at making sure all of us understand , communicate, and have honored our end-of-life wishes.
The rally is timed to coincide with a weekend when most of us are with the very people with whom we should be having these unbelievably important conversations – our closest friends and family.
At the heart of Engage With Grace are five questions designed to get the conversation about end-of-life started. We’ve included them at the end of this post. They’re not easy questions, but they are important – and believe it or not, most people find they actually enjoy discussing their answers with loved ones. The key is having the conversation before it’s too late.
This past year has done so much to support our mission to get more and more people talking about their end-of-life wishes. We’ve heard stories with happy endings … and stories with endings that could’ve (and should’ve) been better. We’ve stared down political opposition. We’ve supported each other’s efforts. And we’ve helped make this a topic of national importance.
So in the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, we’d like to highlight some things for which we’re grateful.
Thank you to Atul Gawande for writing such a fiercely intelligent and compelling piece on “Letting go” – it is a work of art, and a must read.
Thank you to whomever perpetuated the myth of “death panels” for putting a fine point on all the things we don’t stand for, and in the process, shining a light on the right we all have to live our lives with intent – right through to the end.
Thank you to TEDMED for letting us share our story and our vision.
And of course, thank you to everyone who has taken this topic so seriously, and to all who have done so much to spread the word, including sharing The One Slide.