by Trudy James
I have listened to many stories during the holiday season. There were stories of people losing their rights, our country losing its stature, and leaders seemingly losing their moral compass. It is easy to lose hope. I have also listened to stories from caregivers who witness patients in their 90’s who no longer know themselves or others who are kept alive in group homes required to feed them—because they have lost their ability to speak for themselves and they have no advocate. Stories of death that is slow to come when a dear one is suffering. Stories from those going through their first holiday season without a beloved parent—or child. Where is the hope here?
Fortunately I have also heard hopeful stories: a friend recovers from a supposedly un-treatable terminal cancer; a woman telling of her mother’s good death because the daughter attended a Speaking of Dying workshop and knew what to ask for; a caregiver who shared the film with a family seeking options for a newly-diagnosed parent; stories of families using holiday gatherings to discuss Advance Directive—with humor and with love.
We celebrate every person who finds the courage to speak with others openly about their end of life desires. AND, it is our resolution for the New Year to bring our message to those who never hear about our work or who cannot afford to attend our screenings and workshops. The isolated elderly and the poor often end their lives with suffering, not knowing that they have choices. We want to promote our message that death does not need to be proud but we can prepare to be proud of our own death.
Speaking of Dying will raise funds in 2018 with the same great effort that resulted in $80,000 to produce the DVD that is our greatest tool. We will hold our first fundraiser this month with a show at Seattle’s Comedy Underground on January 10. It will feature some of the city’s greatest comedians roasting Barbara Sehr, a comedian who has given her time for our message in the past year as our Companis tehnical assistant.. On April 14, we will mark the third anniversary of the film premiere with a celebration fundraiser. Proceeds from both events will go towards bringing our message to impoverished communities where barriers persist. Or you can donate to our work online at any time (link)
Please help us (listen to ourselves and others talk more openly about the end of life) (or)demonstrate to the world that there is love and hope in our work for all who might otherwise face a painful death. Remember the words of our “Impossible Dream.”
This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far
Happy New Year and the blessings of a productive, inclusive year ahead go out to you all.