A HOPE INITIATIVE CONFERENCE
HOPE AT THE END
The Hope at the End conference took place on Saturday, September 29, 2018, at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
The conference covered the history, heart, and purpose of The Hope Initiative, and how the Five Stones (love, hope, faith, peace, and joy) provide support during the difficult final seasons of life. The Hope Initiative is a Christian-based course designed to encourage and support caregivers of the chronically and terminally ill. The conference was the brainchild of Mona Hanford, a distinguished eldercare activist, consultant, and speaker, as well as the author of the bestselling book, The Graceful Exit: 10 Things You Need to Know. Mona herself is dealing with a serious cancer diagnosis and has been undergoing treatment since November.
Hope at the End was organized around expert presentations from faith leaders, as well as medical and hospice care professionals. Those presentations were followed by a panel discussion moderated by Rev. Jamie Haith, to include Sister Carol Keehan, Dr. Eduardo Bruera, and Dr. Jacob Strand, with time allowed for discussion and questions. While the conference had a Christian focus, it was designed to help people from all faiths or those who are seeking spiritual help in a challenging time. We pray that this conference will continue to ignite a national dialogue around faith as a key component of health, well-being, and hope.
Click the play button to view full conference video.
TO ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT CAREGIVERS
THE HOPE INITIATIVE
The Hope Initiative is a five part course designed to encourage and support caregivers, the chronically or terminally ill, and anyone contemplating life and its meaning. The material is faith based, but will help people from all backgrounds prepare for the spiritual and emotional struggles they may face while confronting the deeper questions of life, particularly questions about death.
The course is designed to run in hospitals, churches, or at home with a small group. Most recently, Suburban Hospital hosted a course at their Bethesda facility.
In the first talk, we meet our host, Jamie Haith, who introduces the aims of the Hope Initiative and establishes the structure for the rest of the course. This session focuses on how love motivates and strengthens us and how it can be renewed. Love as a principle and primary drive in our lives is discussed through references, anecdotes and stories. As we attempt to combat negative thought patterns such as stress, worry, fear and depression this talk considers how love can stop these ‘giant’ enemies from dominating our lives.
In this session, Jamie contemplates hope as the central theme of the whole initiative. He discusses the difference between wishful thinking and true hope, and points towards a hope that won’t disappoint. We consider how any hope that is stable through all the changes of life, past present and future, can offer a potent antidote to the fear that suffering often provokes. We also learn how true hope can grow and deepen even in the midst of our difficult circumstances.
In the third session, we consider how to combat fear and difficulty with joy and the strength it brings. Jamie considers a different kind of joy, one that exists beyond happiness and the happenings of life. We’re led to contemplate the existence of an eternal joy, and to explore how we might discover it in the here and now. We learn a bit about Jamie’s family, and how joy helped them navigate the difficulty and distress of chronic illness.
In the penultimate session, we look at the relationship between our understanding of a situation and the peace we have within it. Jamie suggests that true peace is found when relinquish our need to be in control and learn to trust. We consider how trust can powerfully counteract our anxiety in the midst of difficulties and pain, and how the resulting peace can comfort and sustain us, even in the most chaotic and complex of circumstances.
The final session considers how faith in eternity and a loving God can enable us to face even our worst fears with confidence. It discusses the importance of a relationship with God in all aspects of life, but especially when we are facing serious and end-of-life issues. Jamie encourages us to explore faith, and to step out and consider how living with faith in a life beyond this one can profoundly impact the life we live now.
THE HOPE INITIATIVE PRAYER
Heavenly Father, thank you that you are always good and loving. May I have the faith to believe you are with me in every struggle, and the trust to accept that ultimately you are in control. Please empower me with your unfailing love and grant me your wisdom, kindness and strength. Instill a hope of heaven in me and those I love, that we would know you are always with us.
A survey of The Hope Initiative was conducted at
the Johns Hopkins Medical Center
of the people who responded
An Interview with Mona Hanford on the Hope Initiative, featured by Harvard University
Mona Hanford is an end-of-life-care activist, teacher and writer. She chaired the conference “Journey of the Soul–Peace at Last,” which was held at the Washington National Cathedral. In this interview, she explains her work with the Hope Initiative, a program designed to offer support to those facing end-of-life decisions. Mona currently serves on the board of the Collegeville Institute.
"I feel blessed that the Hope Initiative is offering a Christian-based course designed to enable caregivers of the chronically and terminally ill to prepare emotionally and spiritually for the struggles and difficulties of caring for an ill person."
"The Hope Initiative can strengthen our relationship with God; and also provide fellowship with the others who gather together to listen to the talks. Together we can anchor on the important and priceless...God's love!"
"...life and love never end when our bodies die. Our Creator would never let that happen. Believing in the Great Beyond is what helps my patients take the next step on the hard journey toward the transition from life to death."
"If you have ever been searching for the answers of how to handle the big issues of life that come at you, often catching you by surprise, this course will set you on solid footing"