WI-2009-105-sHow do we help family members understand what is happening as loved ones approach the end-of-life? How do we help them talk among themselves about decisions to be made, stories to be shared, and thank yous to be expressed? How do we help families cope with the bad news that a loved one is dying? Educating Families on Death and Dying addresses the special communications challenges that chaplains, social workers, pastors, and other spiritual care givers face when working with families facing death and dying. It doesn't matter whether death or the threat of death is through trauma, chronic illness, disease progression, or age; conversations about care plans, pain management, and decision points—curative versus palliative, psychosocial issues, financial matters, spiritual issues—are often extremely difficult and painful for the patients, the families, and the health care professionals. This seminar will identify key conversations that families need to have about death and dying, barriers to having them, and strategies for communicating with patients and family members to help them navigate this journey.


This is a three-week online seminar taking place at the Oates Institute July 8-26. It is a seminar that allows you to participate from wherever you are at your convenience.

Dr. Vern Farnum is the presenter for this seminar, which grew out of his doctoral research in this area. He is a Board Certified Chaplain in the Association of Professional Chaplains and a Certified Thanatologist in the Association of Death Education and Counseling. His work within hospitals and churches has not only provided him with a abundance of experience in thantology and bereavement but has provided those hospitals and congregations with a wealth of tools to use in educating people regarding dealth and dying.

 Learning Objectives:

As a result of participating in this seminar, participants may expect to be able to:

  • Identify key topics for educating families about death and dying
  • Identify barriers to education (communication)
  • Create strategies for education (communication)

This seminar features the Oates Institute's Connected Learning approach and offers 12 contact hours of continuing education. To qualify for CEUs participants are expected to read the presentations and participate in the email discussion by contributing at least 2 email messages per week. One message is to reflect on the presentations or case studies in light of one's personal experience and context and the second is to respond to someone else’s reflection or inquiry.


A reminder that we are limited to 12 participants, so registration is limited. Members of the Oates Institute may register for free, others may register for only $90.

Registration is now closed for July