It is our intention to make this website as useful as possible with information and resources about death, dying, grief and loss.  It will include a rich cross section of information from national, state and local sources.  As we identify new material, websites and events of interest, we will add them. 

The How and Why of Advance Care Planning.

On your own terms . . .

The conversations you have today allow others to speak for you tomorrow without the burden of doubt.

The more you share — with the people you love, with your doctor, with your health care agent –

the more powerful your voice becomes.

An advance care planning process helps us, over the course of our lives, understand, reflect upon and discuss goals, values and beliefs for end of life health care. These conversations usually result in written plans called Advance Directives. It is important to make your wishes known.

Make your choices known.

  • Choose a health care agent—the person you want to make health care decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself.

  • Choose the end of life medical care that you want or the care you don’t want.

  • Choose to act now, while you are healthy.  Unexpected events, such as sudden illness or serious accident can happen, so make choices when you can speak for yourself

It’s the caring thing to do.

  • Letting family and loved ones know your wishes reduces their burden.

  • If you do not choose, others will need to decide for you.

  • Become part of our community of caring.

Advance Care Planning on Vashon

Honoring Choices Vashon provides information and tools to discuss end-of-life wishes with family, friends and healthcare providers and to create advance care directives. The vision is for Vashon to be a community where death is understood as a natural part of life, where loved ones do not face confusion and conflict when crucial decisions have to be made and where residents’ wishes for their care are known, respected and honored. The service is free and available to all.

For further information and assistance in starting this conversation, contact Jane Neubauer ( 206-567-5404 or Carol Spangler, ( 206.567-5302.


Wisdom from The Art of Dying Well by Katy Butler


There is much simple, practical advice and profound wisdom in this book. Here is a smattering to consider:

  • Courtesy, neighborliness and exchanges of favors are pleasant amenities earlier in life. For older people who want to stay in their own homes, they are survival skills.

  • One way or another, it’s crucial to find a doctor who cares about you as a whole person long before a health crisis.

  • Perhaps it might help to think of an advance directive as not just a piece of intimidating paperwork, but an act of spiritual maturity. Nothing could be kinder to people who love you than to give them clear guidance for the hardest decisions they may ever have to make.

  • A great question for any of us at whatever stage we are in the living and dying process: “What is something you could do today that you could really enjoy?”

  • People who thrive while living with age- and health-related limitations have usually cultivated the virtues of adaptation, acceptance, and interdependence. You are never too old or weak to give and receive love, or to offer encouragement, reassurance and praise to younger people.

  • Consider reducing your faith in drugs, surgery and specialists and increasing your faith in human community and plain common sense.

Other resources:

Values Clarification/Conversation Starters . . .

The following questions may help you think about and clarify your goals, values, and beliefs related to end of life care. You may want to write down your answers and share them with your health care agent, family and health care providers. Or, you may just want to use the questions to prompt further thought.

  1. Have you experienced the death or sudden illness of a friend or loved one? What did you learn from that experience?

  2. How do you feel about using life-sustaining measures (CPR, breathing machines, tubes to feed you) in the face of terminal illness? Permanent coma? Irreversible chronic illness or disability (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease)?

  3. If a life-sustaining measure could be used to keep you alive, what quality of life would you want in those circumstances?

  4. What does “quality of life” and “living well” mean to you?

  5. Do you want hospice care – with the goal of keeping you comfortable in your home or at an Island facility during the end of life – instead of hospitalization?

  6. How would you feel about being placed in a nursing home if your family could not care for you at home?

  7. Do you want to have finances taken into account when treatment decisions are made?

  8. Do you belong to a faith group or have a religious preference? Would you want someone from your church, synagogue or worship community contacted? How would you like them to be present at the end of life?

  9. Have you made plans or do you have preferences for how you want your body cared for after you die (funeral, memorial service, burial, cremation, organ donation)?

Use this quick values checklist to explore the care you want and don’t want. Use your answers to share your choices with others and to complete your advanced directives.

 Resources from the Vashon Conversation for the Living about Dying Weekend

The Workshop:  It’s All Ceremony:  A Workshop about End of Life Ritual

Description of Workshop:  This session will assist you in planning end of life rituals – for yourself and others.

Workshop Presenters:  Rev. Carla V. Pryne and Erin Durrett

Click here to download workshop handouts

·       Creating Rituals to Move through Grief

·       Notes from Ritual and Ceremony Workshop

·       Ritual and Music

·       Example of a Christian Memorial Celebration

·       Example of a Non-Denominational Memorial Celebration


The Workshop:  Spiritual Perspective on Dying for Those Not in a Faith Community

Description of Workshop:  In dying, each of us approaches the edge of our knowing and enters into mystery.  Explore how spiritual processes beyond our comprehension might be a part of the dying experience.

Workshop Presenter:  Tom Craighead, Retired Hospice Chaplain

Workshop Handout:  Letting Go in Peace

Click here to download workshop handout.

The Workshop:  End of Life Care -- Quantity vs. Quality

Description of Workshop:  Explore the challenging ethical decisions faced by patients, families and the health care team at the end of life.

Workshop Presenters:  Mark Fredericksen, Ryan Pferdehirt, Collin Hennessey

Video of Workshop on YouTube