Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Brattleboro Area Hospice are co-sponsoring a free interactive workshop on May 19 entitled, “How to Talk About the End of Life.”

Talking about one’s dying is not something most people feel comfortable doing. We would rather put it off until we absolutely have to. Even healthcare providers avoid it. This interactive, how-to workshop will include personal stories and examples of the powerful benefits of talking about it.

The workshop will be presented by Diana Barnard, MD, a native Vermonter who is Board Certified in Hospice and Palliative Care as well as in Family Practice. After more than 17 years in private practice in Addison County, she is a palliative care medicine physician at Fletcher Allen Health Care and an assistant professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Barnard has served on the Ethics and Palliative Care Committees and Board of Directors of Porter Hospital and also on the board of Hospice Volunteer Services of Addison County. Prior to her present position, she was the medical director and an active board member of Helen Porter Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center. Barnard is a passionate advocate for holistic, comprehensive, and patient-directed care at the end of life.

According to Hospice Program Coordinator Patty Dunn, “While this is one of the most difficult conversations, it is crucial to understand how to approach conversations about death with loved ones. Talking about end-of-life issues is one of the most important conversations to have with family and healthcare providers.”

Dunn says, “Dr. Barnard is a strong and passionate advocate for broaching these conversations with loved ones and healthcare providers. She believes what studies reveal: learning how to have those conversations empowers people to fulfill their personal goals and wishes throughout their lives, through serious illness, and even to life’s end. But how do we begin talking about it? Dr. Barnard has helped hundreds of people realize that talking about our death improves our lives, the care we receive, and how we die.”

Founded in 1979, Brattleboro Area Hospice is an independent, community-based, nonprofit volunteer organization that provides free services to address the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of dying neighbors and their families. BAH provides non-medical assistance to the terminally ill and their loved ones, offers bereavement services to Hospice families as well as the general public, and serves as a community resource on the issues of death, dying, and grieving.

The public is invited to this free event, which will take place from 6 to 8 PM in the BMH Brew Barry Conference Room 2. For more information, please contact Brattleboro Area Hospice at 802-257-0775.