Churches from different denominations are observing “Conservation Sabbath” from November 11th through the 20th. In 2010, a faith-related initiative titled the “The Conversation Project” was initiated by journalist Ellen Goodman. The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. Their website states:
“Too many people are dying in a way they wouldn’t choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain. The Project’s goal is to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves. We believe that the place for this to begin is at the kitchen table—not in the intensive care unit—with the people we love, before it’s too late. Together we can make these difficult conversations easier. We can make sure that our own wishes and those of our loved ones are expressed and respected.”
Similar projects have been initiated by healthcare providers who care for patients with serious illnesses (Conversations of a Lifetime), hospice and palliative care (Conversations Before the Crisis), and the death care industry (Have the Talk of a Lifetime). These programs share a common goal of initiating personal conversations among family and friends about end of life preferences. While congregants might welcome the opportunity to begin the end of life discussion within the comfort of their own church or synagogue, not all clergy are comfortable leading such conversations. The Conversation provides a good starting point for developing the skills for such discussions. The ‘other Conversations’ also provide clergy excellent resources to expand their end of life ministry.