Death is the most expensive conversation that people are not having, said Jessie Walsh, the director of Grand County Hospice, referring to an event the hospice is hosting to encourage people to not shy away from discussing the topic of dying.

“People generally want to die at home, but more often end up dying in the hospital, which is why it is hugely expensive,” Walsh said. “We’re holding space, creating an environment where people come together and discuss death.”

Grand County Hospice’s fifth annual Death Over Dinner event will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 19, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Seekhaven Chapel, 81 N. 300 East. Guests will receive materials to help spark the conversation.

Death Over Dinner is a national grassroots movement, started by Michael Hebb, aimed at breaking down barriers and ending the taboo surrounding talking about death and options regarding medical care at the end of life.

“We joined (the national grassroots movement) five years ago in an effort to create more peace and acceptance around the topic of death,” Walsh said.

According to Walsh, Hebb said that people need to sit around the dinner table and discuss end-of-life issues, but that it is difficult in today’s modern world to make time for that. So, Grand County Hospice planned this event to encourage people to do so.

“Ideally, people come to the dinner and then go home and have these conversations with loved ones,” Walsh said.

Only 24 RSVPs will be accepted – organizers want to keep it “intimate.” The event is free, although the nonprofit organization will accept donations.

Moonflower Community Cooperative will provide chili, macaroni and cheese, and a “beautiful salad,” Walsh said. Moab Brewery is donating cornbread. Local caterer Devin Dilnicki is making desserts.

Walsh said the feedback regarding prior Death Over Dinner events has been positive. She added that people say they want to have these conversations, but don’t know how to get it started.

“We provide an Advanced Directive Tool Kit,” Walsh said. “But it’s more about breaking the ice and starting the conversation.”

Once a person has RSVPed, the hospice will send out a “homework assignment” to prepare them for the evening and get them thinking about the topic.

Grand County Hospice is a nonprofit organization that operates under the umbrella of Moab Regional Hospital. It provides patients with terminal illnesses individualized physical, emotional, and spiritual end-of-life care, with an emphasis on pain and symptom management – also known as palliative care. Hospice’s role is also to support family members during the grieving process. Care is provided at patients’ homes as well as Canyonlands Care Center.

An interdisciplinary team of nurses, social workers, chaplains, physicians and volunteers work together to allow patients to preserve their dignity and maintain their right of self-determination through the end phases of life, said Moab Regional Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jen Sadoff. Sadoff said she plans to attend the event.

“I think these conversations are crucial for families to be having,” Sadoff said. “It is recognizing that death is inevitable for all of us and that the last stages of life can be improved with support and knowing what our loved ones see as a good death.”

For more information or to RSVP, contact Walsh at 435.719.3772 or jessicaw@mrhmoab.org.

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