Community Members Embrace Iona’s End-of-Life Expo

November 8, 2019

On Saturday, November 2nd, Iona hosted its first-ever End-of-Life Expo, which focused on preparing individuals for a “good death.” The Expo was open to the public and approximately 150 people were in attendance. There were 12 different sessions held with over 15 organizations. End-of-life professionals and practitioners, and older adults from all over the Washington Metropolitan Area attended the Expo. As death and end-of-life processes are often considered “taboo,” the Expo gave space for increased awareness while unveiling hidden and unknown resources. Presenters provided participants with tools, resources, and information to help them make wiser, clearer decisions, sooner, before a crisis occurs. Attendees were excited during discussions. Many were intrigued—asking questions, and engaging in group conversations.

Focal points included:

  • appointing a Power of Attorney
  • completing an Advance Directive
  • writing an obituary or living will
  • making a plan for folks who have any form of dementia
  • green or alternative burial options
  • palliative or hospice care options
  • organ and body donation, and
  • understanding DC’s law, Death with Dignity Act

Bob “Hoff” Hoffman, in one session, led a Death Café, which is a space allowing attendees to engage openly and honestly about how they feel about death. Many shared what drew them to the Expo. Their interests were learning how to move-on after experiencing death, addressing fears related to death, and learning what their options are. A couple of quotes from attendees were, “Death is natural”, and “I’m not afraid of death; I would like to have control over it.”

Another session included a live recording of the podcast, The Death Diaries. Host Paul King interviewed a leader in end-of-life issues, Sally Craig, about her experience with body care and preparation after death. Also, the Washington Post featured an article on a video that was featured at the Expo. The article is about a woman who decided to take control of her end-of-life, and is titled, “At 94, she was ready to die by fasting. Her daughter filmed it.”

Trending tips from presenters at the expo centered around:

  • having the hard conversations early
  • getting wishes and desires down on paper and to the right people, and
  • appointing a primary decision maker to protect against family members and loved ones in disagreement

According to presenter Reverend Susan Flanders, and author of “If I Ever Lose My Mind”, starting the conversation as early as possible is key to ensuring family members and other stakeholders find consensus.

The Expo exceeded Iona’s expectations and those of the attendees! Attendees left the event feeling more equipped for their ends-of-life.

Help us continue to spread awareness by encouraging people to get the information they need and have tough conversations on their end-of-life choices.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of the Expo—presenters, exhibitors, and guests!

To stay abreast of upcoming events and related workshops, sign up for our e-newsletter at Iona.org. If you are unsure about where to begin in your search for information and resources related to end-of-life, call our Helpline at 202-895-9448 or email info@iona.org. See pictures from the Expo below.