Photo blog: Before I Die recap

Spirit & Place was honored to work with the IU School of Nursing this past weekend on Indy’s — and America’s! — first Before I Die Festival. Thanks again to Bishop Gwendolyn Phillips Coates for leading faith leaders through a day of reflection and skill-building on how to create courageous conversations with their congregants and to Light of the World Christian Church for their generosity in hosting the event!

Bishop Gwendolyn Phillips Coates is the author of Waiting for my Lunch Date: A Journey Through Grief and a Path to Joy and pastor of God Answers Prayers Ministries in South Los Angeles.

Bishop Gwendolyn Phillips Coates is the author of Waiting for my Lunch Date: A Journey Through Grief and a Path to Joy and pastor of God Answers Prayers Ministries in South Los Angeles.

13063414_10208890655128937_2851193291357530742_o

Photo cred: Facebook – Jennifer Vines

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weekend was packed with even more events, including the Crown Hill Cemetery Before I Die Wall walk. See the full list of events and partners here and check out more images from the weekend here.

 

Advertisements

Death, Dying, & Awkward Conversations

By Lucia Wocial, PhD, RN, FAAN

When I first started telling people about the idea of a Before I Die Festival (April 15—17), I invariably heard an incredulous, “A what???” often followed by, “Don’t you think you should change the name? That’s awkward!”

The topic is absolutely awkward. That is kind of the point. But by explaining our goal is to use what people find comfortable – art, literature, faith, and even food – to spark conversations about death, people start to warm to the idea. In fact, virtually everyone I speak to has a story to tell about death.

BID_LogoGerogioProFinalFew people are comfortable talking about death, even though all of our lives will be touched by it sooner or later. If the first conversation you have about what you want for end-of-life care is when you get bad news from your doctor, it is too late.

There are so many heartwarming stories about how people have beat cancer or survived some terrible accident. It is easy to trick ourselves into believing we don’t have to plan for death. Subconsciously we know we will die but our conscious mind does not want to go there. We believe we will be in control; we will be able to tell people what we want up until the very end.

Because I work in healthcare I know that the majority of people who are dying are too sick to tell us what they want.

If they haven’t had conversations with the important people in their lives, family is left to feel a terrific burden. The greatest gift we can give our families is to tell them exactly what matters most to us should we develop a terrible illness or learn we are dying. In my experience, there is a tremendous sense of peace when patients have shared with their friends and family what they want.

It is sad when people die. It doesn’t have to be traumatic.

Come to the festival and find out just how easy it can be to talk about death.

Lucia Wocial, PhD, RN, FAAN is a nurse ethicist with the Fairbanks Center for Medical Ethics as well as an adjunct assistant professor with the IU School of Nursing. Her work with the RESPECT Center is focused on research in palliative and end-of-life communication and training.

 

Facing Death: A Prescription for Feeling Alive

People often ask me how I came to be interested in the topic of death. Depending on the context, there are a few explanations I may offer up: an excellent course on death and dying that I took during college; my husband’s career as a medical ethicist wherein conversations about death are considered normal dinnertime fodder; I may even tell the story of my days as a hospitalized newborn whose parents were told they should prepare for my imminent demise. Having dodged the grim reaper in my first weeks of life, I always imagined myself as someone who was here by accident, crashing the greatest party ever.

I heard about the Death Café movement via NPR, felt an immediate affinity for the concept, and hoped someone would start one locally. Six months later, feeling rather uninspired, I took a seat at a staff training session. Fighting against my laconic mood, I started chit-chatting with the co-workers at my table, all of whom were strangers to me. I honestly can’t recall how we veered into this territory but the woman to my left informed me she was getting ready to start a Death Café. Cue the proverbial jaw drop! In a city this large, how is it that the person willing to take the initiative to get this started just happens to be my co-worker? The shock was mutual, as I think the prior reactions she had received were of the “raised eyebrow” variety. I immediately offered to help, as it’s not every day fate places a kindred spirit in the chair right beside you.

6768001697_6d0ab69d2b_o

As we embark on our third year of Death Café Indy, I can affirm that talking about death with strangers and friends has enhanced my worldview. Death Café’s aim is to “increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives.” I now make choices as a direct result of saying to myself “What’s the worst thing that could happen? You could be dead tomorrow, so why not try?” Some were small risks (dancing on stage for the first time in over twenty years); others, more significant (leaving the security of my decade-plus job). For this mental paradigm-shift, I thank the indefatigable Monica Doyle, as well as every Death Café attendee who has helped me to close my mouth, open my ears, and learn.

Jennifer Vines is the Project Manager for the “Before I Die” festival, Monica Doyle’s sidekick in Death Café Indy, and a Florida State University philosophy alum.

Four Ways Spirit & Place Nourishes Relationships

By Pam Blevins Hinkle

“Great places are built on great relationships.”

This wonderful bit of truth came from my boss, Dr. David Bodenhamer, executive director of The Polis Center at IUPUI, when we were discussing how Spirit & Place makes an important difference in Central Indiana.

We nourish great relationships by helping you …

  1. Meet new people. Building a more just, connected, and productive society must grow organically from real-time interactions that cultivate civility and invite both reflection and conversation. Spirit & Place helps you meet diverse people with diverse points of view. (Check out Gentrify: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, for a great opportunity to do this monthly through October 2016).
  1. Discover interesting places. The rhythm of your life is dictated largely by the places you go: where you work, live, and shop; where your family and friends live; and where you hangout regularly, such your neighborhood bar or place of worship. Spirit & Place helps you counter the potential trap of this rhythm, inviting you to stop in places you drive past, places that have historic or cultural meaning, and places that are hidden gems. (Did you know that The Indiana Medical History Museum houses the oldest surviving pathology facility in the nation?)
  1. Encounter cool stuff. Spirit & Place is your opportunity to experiment, test, and learn about all manner of ideas, productions, beliefs, and interpretations that result from creative collisions between people, disciplines, and organizations. (Check out the upcoming Before I Die Festival in April that includes cemetery tours, music, discussions, art, and more).
  1. Appreciate institutional vitality. Each year we introduce you to the talents within and contributions of nearly 100 community organizations—cultural and historical, educational and congregational, civic and human service—that are working with each other to make Central Indiana a great place to live, work, and play. Significantly, 85.2% of our 2015 partner organizations reported that participating in Spirit & Place helped them develop new or expanded community partnerships.

Got that? Meet new people, discover interesting places, encounter cool stuff, appreciate institutional vitality. No wonder I love my job.

To learn how you or your organization can be a presenter in the 2016 Spirit & Place Festival, which celebrates the theme of HOME, visit spiritandplace.org or contact us at 317-274-2455 or festival@iupui.edu. The application deadline is April 22.

About the author

PAm BH by Polina Osherov-cropped

Pam Blevins Hinkle has served as director of Spirit & Place since 1996. She has received the IUPUI Inspirational Woman Award from the IUPUI Office of Women (2015), an Individual Artist Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission (2013), and a Creative Renewal Arts Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis (2003). Learn more about her work as a composer and song-leader at www.pamblevinshinkle.com.

Photo credit: Polina Osherov