Rev. Shanna Steitz |
Monday of this last week, I had to fill out a medical advance directive for my
husband, Ryan. He was in the hospital at North Kansas City, and they
needed a document on file. We have documents at home, but the form was
easiest because it was in front of us and immediate. I had to smile when I read
the form and saw the small print at the bottom: “This document is provided as a
service by the Center for Practical Bioethics.“ I smiled because I was headed
to the Center’s annual dinner the very next night.
you aren’t familiar with the Center, it is a nonprofit, free-standing and
independent organization nationally recognized for its work in practicalbioethics. For more than 30 years, the Center has helped patients and
their families, healthcare professionals, policymakers, and corporate leaders
grapple with difficult issues in healthcare and research involving
patients. I am so proud that several members of our congregation are
involved with this important organization: Myra Christopher is the former
President and CEO and still on the staff, Dr. Sandra Stites serves on the Board
of Directors, and Rev. George Flanagan is a Center Fellow and formerly on the
staff. I saw several other members and friends of our congregation in
I got home from the dinner, my 12-year old son Jacob was up waiting for
me. He wanted to know about the evening. We discussed the Center and
what our friends there did. It was an interesting conversation...one we’ve
had many times before, but it was especially unique given that his dad was
spending a third night in the hospital. Ryan wasn’t dying, but Jake knows
his parents’ wishes if we should. He has for years. I say this not to use
our family as an example, but to remind you that it is my prayer that we will
continue to be a congregation where we can be our most real selves. Where
we can be truly authentic and have honest conversations. And where we can
help one another to do and be that - Authentic. Real.
is important that you have these honest conversations with your family members
about what is important to you. They can be hard talks, I know. But
it’s important for you and your family and it’s also important to me.
Because if you don’t have those exchanges now...I end up in the middle of those
discussions with families later - during stress and crisis moments. So,
this is a selfish request (wink, smile). It’s easier on me later if you
do it now. The Center has great resources to help begin those talks, and
obviously we at Community have people who can help.
is a first conversation for us around this... you and me. I look forward
to more of them.
it be so. May it be so for us.
My Ryan is fine. As I finish this on Friday, we are hopeful to go home
Rev. Shanna Steitz is the senior minister at Community Christian
Church in Kansas City, Missouri. We welcome her contribution to our blog, which
was originally published in the church’s May 8, 2016, newsletter under the
title, “What I really want to say…”
Labels: bioethics resources, end of life planning, end of life resources