TAMPA — Tampa General Hospital nurse Barbara Turner, a 22-year veteran, said too often she has witnessed families struggle with difficult end-of-life decisions without knowing if they meet the wishes of their dying relative.
Death is certain for every person, but sometimes even the closest relatives fail to talk about dying with dignity and other issues revolving around mortality.
"If you love somebody then (mortality) is something to think about," said Turner, the assistant director of post-acute care programs in the hospital's case management department.
Turner will be part of a group promoting the message of being open and honest with family and friends to ensure death is not a regret at a mortality awareness seminar at 10 a.m. on Friday (June 23) at The Portico, 1001 N Florida Ave.
The seminar will feature a 60-minute Frontline documentary featuring Dr. Atul Gawande on "Being Mortal." It shows a variety of real life situations of death to show the one common theme in all of them: We are all mortal. LifePath Hospice representatives also will answer questions and assist with completing advanced directives.
A similar seminar enjoyed success in the Sun City Center area and organizers have brought it to Tampa to hopefully reach a wider audience. Debbie Caneen, who organized the Sun City Center seminar, was brought on to assist with the event in Tampa.
Caneen's work with the Sun Towers Retirement Community inspired her to get involved in community events that help the residents she works with every day.
"Being involved in this event has shown me that everyone should be aware of all of their options coming into their final days to improve their quality of life, even toward the end," Caneen said.
Turner stressed the importance of people expressing their wants to family and friends directly to ensure that the relatives make the correct final decisions.
She noted it's difficult to walk away from a decision made for a family member without any certainty it's what they would have wanted, according to Turner.
Attendees should come to register at 9 a.m. and RSVP by calling (813) 844-5929 or emailing [email protected] Refreshments are available in the café for purchase at the event.
Turner encourages everyone in the Tampa community to come and bring a friend even without knowing much about mortality. She wants to help spread the word that being mortal is an important part of life.
"This is one of life's greatest moments," Turner said. "The anticipation of life's milestones like a wedding or a birth is nothing to be scared of. I think it's a gift to have that notice and have those conversations [before dying]."
Contact Katelyn Massarelli at [email protected]