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Non-Profit: Alliance for Living and Dying Well
updated: May 15, 2010, 9:00 AM
Conversations about end-of-life wishes connect us with the people who mean the most to us …
While some people believe that talking about end-of-life is morbid, there are many others who have found that the opposite is most often true. When we are more aware in our daily life that we will not live forever, we tend to live more fully. We feel more vividly the preciousness of life, what really matters and experience a deeper sense of connection with life and the people around us.
The Alliance for Living and Dying Well, a collaborative effort by a group of Santa Barbara County organizations who are involved daily in end-of-life care and issues, believes that people should have conversations about the reality of death, and accept it and embrace it as inextricably connected to life. These types of conversations can profoundly connect us to the people who mean the most to us. They allow us to share openly with others our thoughts and feelings about our end-of-life and what we wish for,
and through this sharing we can experience that we are all in this together. No one is exempt, but no one needs to navigate this major life phase alone.
The Alliance membership - Archstone Foundation, Cottage Health System, Hospice of Santa Barbara, James S. Bower Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, Sarah House, St. Francis Foundation, and Visiting Nurses & Hospice Care - advocates these types of conversations between family members, friends and loved ones, and that these conversations culminate in an Advanced Care Directive (ACD), a written document that insures that expressed wishes will be honored, such as: "Where do I wish to die?" "Who do I want to be with?" "Under what circumstances do I wish to have life support, to be resuscitated?" "Who do I want to express my wishes if I am not able?"
Currently the number of patients arriving at facilities in the Cottage Hospital System with Advance Care Directives is an average of six percent. This is well below the U.S. average of 40 percent. One of the goals of The Alliance for Living and Dying Well is to increase the number of Santa Barbara area residents with ACDs to at least 10 percent by January 2011.
We know that conversations about end-of-life wishes can be painful, but they can also be a time of deep meaning and growth, and they can improve one's quality of life and ability to enjoy life. The Alliance for Living and Dying Well also believes that conversations with loved ones about death and dying can alleviate some of the suffering that Alliance members have seen countless times when difficult choices have to be made and wishes have not been discussed in advance. Conversations with family and loved ones, when culminating in an ACD, can be a gift to those who might have to make decisions if you are not able. If they know what you wish, then they can be more at peace during what might be a painful time.
For more information about the Alliance for Living and Dying Well or to find out about the Alliance's activities, including Family and Friends Events at local faith-based organizations, and community conferences and workshops, log on to www.allianceforlivinganddyingwell.org.
Susan P. Plummer, MSW, Ph.D.
Director, Alliance for Living and Dying Well
2010-05-17 11:29 AM
I'm so glad to know that this organization exists in our area. Thank you!
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