This series, co-hosted by New Hampshire Alliance for End of Life Options, Brookhaven Hospice of NH, and Portsmouth Public Library, will focus on the profound to the practical, helping to demystify and normalize conversations about mortality and death, and what really matters in our lives. The series will cover how to communicate our end of life wishes – a process that evolves over time as our lives change. These events will be held in hybrid format – attend online through Zoom, or in person at the Portsmouth Public Library! Free and open to all.
Part 1: How to Live Forever
Wednesdays May 18 & May 25
6:30 – 8 PM
Sign up for one or both sessions!
Would we really want to live forever? The world’s great thinkers have answered consistently and emphatically, no! The knowledge of our own mortality sharpens our focus on living. Without death, they argue, life itself could become meaningless.
But there are other ways to live forever – through those around us, who witness and learn from us. How we approach aging and end of life can teach and leave our loved ones with a sense of wholeness, hope, forgiveness, and love. These are deep experiences that can pass through generations. And you can do it now, at home – no cryogenics needed!
However, this definition of living forever means taking death out of the closet. By really absorbing its truth, we can sharpen our quality of living.
In “How to Live Forever” we’ll start by examining and clarifying our own thoughts, values, and beliefs around how we face the end, and through that, how we can live life to its fullest. It’s the first step toward good conversations with those who matter most about some of life’s most profound questions, including how we approach our dying.
“How to Live Forever” will be held in two sessions – attend one or both! Session One, on Wednesday May 18, focuses on the question: how we would live if we really knew we were going to die? We will challenge ourselves to bring this awareness into our daily lives. It’s the foundation for conversations with those who matter most – our health care proxy, medical providers, clergy, and others – about how we want to approach our end. Session Two, on Wednesday May 25, offers the opportunity to dig deeper and take on questions in a “death over dinner” format, with facilitated small group discussion. It’s a way to practice having the conversations with no pressure, judgment, or expectations – and maybe even laugh a little!
Registration is required. Please register for each session you plan to attend.
Register for May 18 ONLINE / Register for May 18 IN PERSON
Register for May 25 ONLINE / Register for May 25 IN PERSON
Part 2: Who Do You Trust With Your Life? Who's Trusting You with Theirs?
Wednesday June 8
6:30 – 8 PM
On June 8, join us for Part 2 of our series Talking About Death Won’t Kill You... And May Help You Live More Joyfully, “Who Do You Trust with Your Life? Who's Trusting You with Theirs?”
Who do you want by your side at the end of your life – and what do you want them to know about you? Likewise, what do you need to know to make decisions as a proxy for someone else?
In this session, we’ll focus on the medical power of attorney, also called a health care proxy: the person we legally appoint to speak for us when we can’t speak for ourselves. We’ll consider choosing a health care proxy for ourselves and what is means to be a proxy for others.
Through facilitated discussion in large and small groups we’ll think about the kinds of treatments we may want or not want, considering questions like quality of life versus longevity, what gives us joy, our concerns and our aspirations, and what we might compromise.
Choosing the right proxy may be the most important decision you’ll make in completing your advance directive, the legal document that spells out your medical preferences if you cannot speak for yourself. Because we can never imagine all of the scenarios that may befall us, it may be up to our proxy to interpret what we want. You’re entrusting that person to represent you and your wishes, whether or not they agree with them. You’re trusting their ability and willingness to do so, in what can be a high pressure, confusing, emotionally charged environment where family members, physicians, and others may not be in agreement. And if you are a medical proxy for someone else, they’ve entrusted you with the same.
Yet, far fewer than half of Americans have completed advance directives, meaning they have not named a health care proxy. Many who have an advance directive haven't had good conversations with their proxy and other loved ones about their desires. When the unexpected happens, no one is really prepared. “Who Do You Trust with Your Life? And Who is Trusting You with Theirs?”” will help you begin understand the roles and responsibilities more fully. You’re encouraged to bring your proxy or someone else close to you to the conversation.
We will be joined this evening by one of NH’s leading palliative care physicians, Phil Lawson, MD.
Registration is required.
Register for ONLINE / Register for IN PERSON
The NH Alliance for End of Life Options (NHAELO) is a grassroots organization dedicated to better end-of-life experiences for all New Hampshire people. They believe in personal autonomy and shared decision making regarding terminal illness and end of life, and that demystifying death and dying is ultimately life affirming. Through outreach, education, honest conversations, and citizen empowerment they encourage people to live fully right to the end. nhendoflifeoptions.org
This series is supported by a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.