Session 1 Conversations About Dying in America Session 2 Getting Things in Order Session 3 End of Life Decisions Session 4 I'm Dead, Now What?
Four informative and engaging sessions that cover different aspects of death and dying in the U.S. today. We’ll look at our cultural attitude toward death and dying; practical and useful tools for getting our affairs in order; the technical/medical/administrative matters; and wakes, funerals, and burials. All sessions will be presented virtually using Zoom.
Session I Conversations About Dying in America Excerpts from the 2015 National Institute of Medicine Report Dying in America:Improving Quality and Honoring End of Life Choices will be used as a springboard for conversations about cultural attitudes and norms towards death and dying in the US today. We will also look at western pop culture to identify and examine threads of death denial, avoidance, and fear and how this influences not just the way we die, but the way we live as well. The work of End-of-Life Doulas, hospice, chaplains, community, and spiritual leaders to support and shift our culture to a more death embracing one will be included as well.
Session 2 Getting Things In Order Does your “To Do” list include making a will, organizing documents, putting all your passwords in a safe place, inventorying household treasures, writing letters to loved ones, and creating a legacy of some sort? This “to do” list can feel overwhelming and scary especially when you tackle it alone. Join us in this session for guidance, support, and helpful tips and tools to make this “to do” list manageable and maybe even fun!
Session 3 End of Life Decisions What exactly is a Good Death and what does a person need to do to make that happen? This session will look at the idea of a “good death”, explore goals of care, and dive into the details of Advance Care Planning. We’ll look at choosing your health care advocate, the Advance Directive document, Living Wills, Medical Orders, end of life options, and your legal rights regarding medical care.
Session 4 I’m Dead Now What? In this session we’ll cover topics that probably are never discussed at the dinner table but nevertheless, most people are curious about. We’ll talk about the legal and practical aspects of dying at home, home funerals, green funerals, building your own casket, cremation, and the funeral industry. We’ll look at the ecological impact of different choices for burial and some options that you may not have considered. We’ll create a post-death check-list that will ease the burden for loved ones charged with putting affairs in order. We’ll also explore funerals, wakes, and vigils from different cultures looking for lessons and gifts to guide in our learning and understanding of the value of these practices.
Theresa Bessette is a consumer health care advocate with a passion and focus on matters related to end of life and dying. She has served as a hospice volunteer providing compassionate support and companionship for patients, their families and friends as they navigate the end of life experience. Theresa earned her professional certification as an end-of-life doula in 2020 from the University of VT Larner College of Medicine. She continues to study and learn from wise and learned teachers at the Upaya Center in New Mexico, the Zen Center for Contemplative Care in NY, Sarah Kerr, Caitlyn Doughty, and the many members of the death positivity community.
In her earlier life Theresa worked in institutional health care settings as a clinical laboratory scientist where she witnessed the misalignment of wellness and our healthcare system and saw the need to do things, especially dying, differently. Today she uses her skills and experience to empower others to better understand, navigate, and utilize our healthcare system and other resources to create and sustain real wellness.