Choosing Options, Honoring Options (COHO)
The COHO Project
In 2010, a group of dedicated community volunteers came together to address an unmet need for community education around advance care planning and end of life. This pilot project was incubated by Jefferson Regional Health Alliance and funded by a host of community organizations and individuals. During its lifetime, the COHO project raised awareness of palliative care and the importance of advance care planning for end of life. Free public workshops and other educational offerings were a hallmark of COHO’s work and thousands of individuals completed Advance Directive and POLST documents with the help of COHO facilitated workshops. The project came to a close in September 2016.
COHO’s vision was a collaborative community which values, respects and honors conversations about end-of-life care, where each person facing the final stages of life may do so with the greatest possible comfort and dignity.
Reflections on End of Life Issues by John Forsyth, MD, COHO Founder
Over my long career in medicine, dealing with the plethora of end-of-life issues has been a most meaningful learning process, teaching me repeatedly about the marvelous and rich diversity of human life and emotion. Sharing these very special times in many lives has been, for me, a humbling experience, leaving me with a profound respect for my fellow human beings.
Reality is that each of us is born, live a certain span of time, then die (biologically speaking) in a manner not much different from many other forms of life. Despite rationally accepting the inevitability of our own deaths, we humans live much of our lives denying such a possibility, shielded from confrontation with our own mortality by the time demands of our busy existence, wrapped in a false sense of our own invulnerability. Thus, when confronted with the illness which will likely end our lives, we often respond with intense emotion (anger, denial, depression) as we adjust our perspective.
A few unfortunate human beings are unable to make such an adjustment and death comes while the person (or the family) struggles in the destructive depths of such emotion. Fortunately, for most of us, this same human tragedy leads instead to a passage of personal growth, to a sense of peaceful resolution, to a time of meaningful discovery … and to a genuine celebration of the love, joy and creativity which is also possible for human existence. To me, the opportunity to share such experience with my family, my friends and my patients has always seemed to be a very great privilege.
Hopefully, today’s consideration of advance care planning for end-of-life care will provide you with some keys…with which to unlock one of the most challenging and potentially meaningful conversations of your lifetime, allowing you to engage the lives of a few (or perhaps many) others, bringing to you with each such adventure the gift of healing released by shared human love.
John W. Forsyth, M.D.