Nurturing Elders: Near The End!
By the Rev. Paul Graves

Don’t let “near the end” scare you! The end may be one of the best times to LIVE.

Think of “nurturing elders” as a passive verb; it conjures up images of caring for an older adult who needs your support. Think of “nurturing elders” as an adjective; you can enjoy the wisdom and insight of an elder in their later years. Whether an elder needs nurturing or offers nurturing, it is a gift worth embracing.

Through my ministry, Elder Advocates, I am privileged to both offer nurturing to some elders and to be nurtured by some elders. This is certainly true when it comes to “end of life” issues. How are you when those topics come up?

If they are difficult for you or members of your family, perhaps this column might be of some value to you – and them. I’d like to suggest some recent resources you might consider in order to open up important, maybe life-changing conversations.

“Conversation” means so much more than we usually consider. Its original meaning in the mid-14th-century was actually “to live together.” Only a century later did “talking” come into the, uh, conversation.

Two-plus years ago, this column talked about two “community conversations” we held in Sandpoint, Idaho on end-of-life issues. We had over 60 people attend on each of those Saturday mornings. Folks were eager to find new ways to open up hard conversations and dying and end of life.

They wanted to live together (converse) with family members in honest ways where family members could face their silent fears in a loving and open effort at communication. Many of those same people are still telling me how helpful those sessions were to encouraging them to nurture their families.

But the need for such courageous and healing conversations is still with us. And I suspect they are still with you – or at least someone you know and care about. So consider a few resources that might point you in helpful directions.

First, two DVDs whose titles clearly divulge their purpose: “Consider the Conversation.” The first documentary came out in 2011 and has been eagerly seen by thousands of thankful viewers.

The story is told in interviews with terminal persons, family members and doctors. They illustrate the power of how forthright “living together” makes a major difference in how the quality of a person’s end of life can be improved. After I saw a public showing the film, I purchased my own copy. I recently spoke with staff from our local hospice that has seen both films. They were even more impressed with the second documentary than with the first.

As I write, I am waiting for my own copy to be delivered. If you are interested in looking further, simply Google “consider the conversation” on your computer.

The other resource I offer you is a new book that is finding a welcoming public. It is called “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End”. Dr. Atul Gawande is a surgeon who also knows how to deeply empathize with others, who thinks clearly, and who writes a compelling story. I didn’t want his book to end!

Dr. Gawande takes his own profession, medicine, to task for being too focused on curing people, and not enough on healing people, of giving too much information to patients/families at the expense of transforming lives when death is coming closer.

His tone is loving throughout. But he offers a firm critique of modern medicine along with common sense approaches to offering compassionate hope to families. He including his own family as he chronicles the story of his own father’s disease and decline.

Dr. Gawande seems to intuitively know when older adults need to be nurtured, and when they need to nurture others – even when those moments of nurturing happen almost at the same time. Maybe reading his book will remind you of your own needs to both nurture and be nurtured. He reminded me!

The Rev. Paul Graves serves as the chair for the Conference Council on Older Adult Ministries.


RESOURCES_NewBeginningsNew Beginnings – The Gifts of Aging (D4335)
This DVD shows creative ministries involving older adults; Mission opportunities, teaching, service abound in the stories told on this film. “The church has the opportunity to reframe the experience of aging and help cultivate among older adults the qualities of spiritual maturity.” Richard Gentzler, retired director of Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries, GBOD.Contact Ian McKnight at | Facebook: | • Contact Ian McKnight at | Facebook: | • Contact Ian McKnight at | Facebook: | •

RESOURCES_WhentheGameisOverWhen the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box (D1085)
Using chess as a metaphor, think of life as a game. No matter how skillfully you play, the time comes when the game of life ends. All the pieces go back in the box — no more game cards, tokens, promotions, financial planning, RVs or vacations homes.

What did you win that you can keep? With humor and a gift for telling stories, John Ortberg shows what it takes to really win at the game of life. This bible study will help you live with an eternal perspective, keeping your eyes on the truth that unlocks the Kingdom of God.

Includes six sessions lasting a total of 120 minutes with the following titles:

1. When The Game is Over, It all Goes Back in the Box
2. Keeping Score Where It Really Counts
3. Resign as Master of the Board
4. Calling or Comfort? Choose Your Moves Wisely
5. Playing the Game with Greatness and Grace
6. The King Has One More Move
Contact Ian McKnight at | Facebook: | • Contact Ian McKnight at | Facebook: | •


Leave a Reply