March 18, 2019
Story by Melanie Veriotes
CALGARY — Although death is inevitable, few of us want to talk about it. Fortunately, those among us who help and care for the dying do talk and share their learnings, which ultimately benefits us all.
The upcoming Mary O’Connor Conference is a great way for healthcare professionals to come together, share their experiences and discover what’s new in palliative care. Exploring Vulnerability: Becoming Authentically Response-able is the theme for this year’s conference, set for April 4 at the Grey Eagle Resort Event Centre in Calgary.
This year’s keynote speaker is Frank Ostaseski, a Buddhist teacher and the author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully. As the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Humanities Award from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Ostaseski promises to share the distilled, hard-won lessons he’s learned over 30 years of being with the dying.
Other sessions will include: Psychedelics in Palliative Care, LGBTQ2S+ Basics: Creating Safer and More Welcoming Care; The Imposter Syndrome; Topical Lotions and Potions for Malignant Wound and Neuropathic Pain; and the Healing Power of Ritual.
The event’s namesake, the late Mary O’Connor, was a Calgary-based social worker and teacher who faced a terminal-cancer diagnosis in the fall of 2003. In her words, she chose to treat her end-of-life journey as “the greatest adventure of all”. She vowed then to actively embrace whatever time was left to her, however brief, to help others. Her positive attitude in the face of death profoundly affected all around her, and today, long after her death, her influence carries on.
In the spirit of helping others, the conference is designed for palliative, hospice and bereavement volunteers, healthcare professionals, including physicians.
So why should you attend?
“The annual Mary O’Connor Conference brings the heart of the end-of-life community together to strengthen collaboration and gain new knowledge,” says Bev Berg, AHS Director of Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Calgary Zone.
“Each year brings a different experience — and this year’s lineup of speakers will provide conference participants with a wide range of information they can take back and share in their communities.”