However has a story. For some, it is about losing a loved one. For others, it may be about not having important conversations regarding end-of-life or health care choices before it’s too late. For 40 years, JourneyCare—a health care agency that cares for those with serious illness—has helped individuals navigate these challenges with grace and dignity.
It’s often a somber, solitary pursuit. But when Saturday Night Live alumna Julia Sweeney presented on the topic in early April at Hamburger University in Oak Brook, she added a healthy dose of laughter.
“I know what it’s like when a loved one is dying, and everyone is pretending he is not dying and how painful that can be,” Sweeney said in local interviews before presenting to
more than 150 people at the “Life is a Journey” educational event. “I’ve had three deaths in my immediate family and two were much less painful because we did some advanced planning and knew their wishes. I am very passionate about giving directives in advance, so your loved ones know what you want.”
In addition to performing excerpts from her one-woman show “God Said Ha!” Sweeney shared lessons learned through her brother’s struggle with terminal cancer and her own diagnosis of a rare cervical cancer—just weeks before his death. She also spoke with humor about her own personal experience parenting a teen daughter, a marriage, and caregiving for her aging parents while trying to maintain her own well-being.
“We don’t have enough in our culture to acknowledge what is ultimately going to happen and have really frank conversations about end-of-life plans so that you can spend the time more beautifully,” she says, emphasizing that with advance directives, you’re not spending your time in denial or not knowing what the person wants. “But you can just spend the time in a park or just talking with someone about the greatest moments of their lives.”
“Life is a Journey” is among a series of programs held to educate the public on these issues. Sweeney answered questions from the audience during a Q&A session moderated by former ABC 7 News anchor Ron Magers and his wife, Elise, a member of the JourneyCare Board of Directors.
For more information, visit journeycare.org.