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The Convenings event invites conversation about living and dying well

Published in Media Releases Author: CentraCare

When Bruce Kramer was diagnosed with a life-ending diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS in 2010, instead of viewing it as a “death sentence” he embraced it as a “life sentence.”

Bruce recognized to have a meaningful life, then embracing death was his only viable option. Bruce died in 2015.

To inspire and motivate individuals and families across Minnesota to have meaningful conversations about living and dying well, Honoring Choices Minnesota and the Bruce Kramer Collaborative are hosting The Convenings, a free event from 6:30-8 p.m. April 18 at St. John’s University in the Stephen B. Humphrey Theatre, Collegeville.

The Convenings is based on a series of remarkable broadcast conversations between Bruce and Minnesota Public Radio’s Cathy Wurzer, which inspired their book, “We Know How This Ends: Living while Dying.”

Join Cathy and special guests for an evening of music, storytelling and discussion that will inspire people to think about their choices for living and dying well. The event will be live-streamed to CentraCare facilities, including:

  • Long Prairie Hospital ̶ Chapel
  • Melrose Hospital ̶ Birch Room
  • Monticello Hospital ̶ Board Room A
  • Paynesville ̶ Blakely Room
  • Sauk Centre Hospital ̶ Sinclair Lewis Room

To register or for more information, call 612-362-3724 or visit Seating is limited. Attendees will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a copy of “We Know How This Ends: Living while Dying.” The event is sponsored in part by CentraCare Health.

Special Guests

Poet Dr. J Weston Smith, retired physician, was born on the wide prairie of Kansas. He and his wife, Marilyn, had four boys and a girl. They lived several places and finally found the small glacial lake surrounded by woods and a small prairie where he and Marilyn hosted 'poetry parties' for friends until the death of his beloved wife in 2016. Smith will share poetry written about his loss and personal journey with grief.

Local folk musician, Peter Mayer, writes songs for a small planet—songs about interconnectedness and the human journey; about the beauty and mystery of the world. Whimsical, humorous, and profound, his music breaks the boundaries of "folk", and transcends to a realm beyond the everyday love song, to a place of wonder at the very fact of life itself.

About Convenings

To expand Minnesota family conversations concerning late-life planning, Honoring Choices Minnesota and the Bruce Kramer Collaborative are launching a new, statewide program called “The Convenings: Real Families. Real Choices. Real Life.

From late 2016 through 2017, Minnesota Public Radio and Twin Cities-PBS journalist Cathy Wurzer will host events in six Minnesota communities designed to inspire and support family discussions of what is a meaningful late life and end-of-life. The public events are designed to open the discussion beyond health care decisions and focus on living well at any stage of life so end-of-life decisions will feel less confusing and more authentic.

The Convenings include a unique media collaboration between KARE11, Twin Cities PBS (TPT), and other local media organized by long-time TPT Executive Bill Hanley. Hanley says: “KARE and TPT have each been very thoughtful and creative in working with us to shape a variety of approaches to this challenging but inspirational content.”

Honoring Choices-Minnesota is the highly-regarded end-of-life planning initiative of the Twin Cities Medical Society (TCMS). TCMS CEO Sue Schettle regards the project as critical to both health care professionals and individual families. “It has been proven over and over again that late life is improved for patients and their families when we thoughtfully discuss and plan for end-of-life decisions. It’s a gift you can give your family.”

The Bruce Kramer Collaborative is a creative community engagement initiative arising out of radio interviews, podcasts and book collaboration between St. Thomas University Dean Bruce Kramer and MPR host Cathy Wurzer. Dr. Kramer lived a remarkable life with ALS, dying of the disease in 2015. Wurzer says, “When he was diagnosed with the fatal illness in 2010, Bruce decided that the thing about dying is that you have to live through it. That’s exactly what he did: he lived as fully as possible, for as long as possible, experiencing amazing growth even as he died. His life can serve as a model for the rest of us.”