South Florida Baptist Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Faith Community Nursing program are hosting a play in January to spread awareness on end-of-life issues and how you can take a proactive role to help ease your family through those trying times.
The end of one’s life is not something most take the time to contemplate, preferring to push off thoughts of mortality in favor of soaking in the moments of bliss found in the normalcy of existence. But it’s something no one can avoid.
And without the proper planning, it can add a whole new level of stress and hurt to those left behind. South Florida Baptist Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital’s Faith Community Nursing program are hoping to get the community thinking about the future. Using a play by Bryan Harnetiaux titled, “Holding On, Letting Go,” the hospitals will present a show that encapsulates the challenges faced by families through a loved one’s declining health.
A panel following the play will address the benefits of advance directives — forms that detail your choices for health care and treatment should you become unable to make your own health decisions due to being sick or hurt — and share stories of their own experiences with the program.
“It has always kind of been a priority for us to help the public learn about advance directives and why they are so important to have in place,” Linda Wilkerson, manager with Faith Community Nursing, said. “Through our program we had an assessment and began exploring ways to educate the community. We did a similar play 10 years ago by the same playwright and it really seemed to help bridge that gap between our side of healthcare and the general community. We thought it would be a good idea to do one again.”
Lois Green Dunson, director and BayCare employee, said the hospital is having auditions for the play on Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 and hope to find local, talented actors to help bring the rawness of Harnetiaux’s script to life.
The play focuses on the story of a married couple, Bobby and Lee, as Bobby’s health begins to decline.
Emotional topics like hospice and end of life issues and how that effects an entire family are presented via a moving tale on stage. Sometimes it takes watching it happen to someone else, even a fictional character, for the weight of an issue to truly sink in.
Dunson and Wilkerson both said they hope by the end of the night everyone in the audience will have begun thinking about what plans they have in place should they be unexpectedly thrown in a similar situation.
And it’s not a discussion they want to see just take place in the more senior community. The hope is residents of all ages will turn up and begin to take a serious look at their future.
“Working in the ER, there’s been too many times where I’ve seen people blindsided by a tragedy or even if they’ve had some warning still faced with really hard decisions because there wasn’t a plan in place,” Dunson said. “It’s such an emotional time and it’s hard to make those decisions when you’re in the middle of it. If those conversations have already been had, if there’s documented proof of what the person wants, it takes such a weight off everyone because the family can be sure their loved one’s wishes are being fulfilled. There’s no guessing, there’s no guilt over making a ‘wrong decision.’ Everything has already been decided.”
The auditions will be held at the Swindle Medical Arts Building, 1601 West Timberlane Drive, at the Entrance B Conference Room. Any actors interested in auditioning are welcome to pop in during the three hour window.
Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script and no prepared monologues are necessary. The group is also looking for volunteers for stage, lighting and sound crews.
The play will run at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 10 and at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at Plant City Entertainment. An interactive Q&A discussion will follow each performance.
This production of “Holding On, Letting Go” is presented through an agreement with Hospice Foundation of America, a nonprofit, charitable organization providing leadership in the development and application of hospice and its philosophy of care.
Contact Wilkerson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dunson at email@example.com for more information.
Cast of Characters:
Lee (Leoneta): Female, 50s, Bobby’s wife, NCAA basketball coach
Bobby: Male, 50s, Lee’s husband, has end-stage liver failure
May: Female, 70s, Bobby’s mother
Virginia: Female, age open but younger than Lee, a hospice registered nurse
Gabe: Male, early 30s, a hospice medical social worker
Roger: Male, age open but older than Bobby, a hospice chaplain