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Religious leaders to discuss belief at end of life at UnityPoint-St. Luke's in Cedar Rapids

Thursday event is at First Lutheran

CEDAR RAPIDS — Wyatt Dagit has seen families left second-guessing.

As a hospital chaplain for the past 10 years, Dagit said he’s seen families having to make decisions on behalf of loved ones who are in medical crisis.

It can be even tougher for families who have not had end-of-life conversations with those loved ones.

“The family is doing the best they can on their behalf, but it is really tough when they haven’t had that deep conversation about it,” said Dagit, chaplain at UnityPoint-St. Luke’s in Cedar Rapids.

Dagit will be participating in a panel discussion Thursday evening about how beliefs and values can impact these medical decisions.

“For a lot of people, their faith helps to guide their life,” Dagit said. “Of course, when it comes to really important life and death decisions, that belief is going to play a role in that.

The discussion will zero in on perspectives in the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu religions, as well as humanist thinking, and what those traditions say about end-of-life options.

In the face of a terminal disease, do people prefer quality of days over quantity of days? How do they find hope in the midst of suffering?

“Everybody has something to believe in, and it’s helpful to think about ahead of time what it is what you really believe,” said Dagit, who will offer the Protestant perspective.

“We say spiritual perspectives, not answers,” said Steve Knudson, senior pastor at First Lutheran Church, who will moderate the discussion, which carries a continuing education credit for doctors and nurses.

The six discussion leaders hope to offer insight to medical professionals about the perspectives people bring to medical appointments or emergencies, Knudson said.

The discussion is part of the Speak Up Series, a new initiative from the MedQuarter Regional Medical District. The three-part series — free and open to the public — focuses on end-of-life planning.

Knudson, who also chairs the Task Force of Faith and Medicine which planned the events, said the goal of the discussions has been to help people understand the importance of planning for the inevitable.

Added Dagit: “We hope to create a better awareness of just the importance of people’s faiths and beliefs as playing a role in medical decisions — hopefully, have a little bit better understanding of what certain traditions have to say.”