Ten months ago, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with ALS. In January, she went to be with Jesus. As a vibrant woman who lived a “love your neighbor” life,  she was blindsided by the aggressiveness of the illness, the rapid level of care needed and a death that came much too soon. She left a beloved husband, two grown sons, and their wives as well as a large family and many friends.

Since the loss in our family is so fresh, I do think about how we could have done things more intentionally to ease the burden and to be more present for her in those final days.

There is always much to learn as a family navigates not only the death but the process of illness and dying. It can be a process that unites family or even divides them. There are questions that loom: Who are the best family members to make medical decisions? Who are the caregivers to do the hard work of care? What decisions have been made? What is hard to talk about? And ultimately, how will we get through this?

On Tuesday, Feb. 11th at 7 pm, we are having a conversation on death and dying with the hope of taking away the fear of the unknown that we all will be part of at some point in our lives. Two of our own, Elizabeth Bouchard and Joyce Montgomery, will take us through how to best handle the emotions that come with hearing about a diagnosis and how to move through the next steps like navigating the healthcare system. They will discuss how to adjust to a new norm as well as the journey through the grieving process.

We are a people who tend to be unprepared for such conversations. Whether the conversation is being had in our own family or we are navigating this with a good friend or group member, being better prepared before the need arises is a very loving thing to do.

I hope you will join me there.