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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A new UF-sponsored course will teach adults of all ages the art of saying goodbye.

To help community members prepare for the end of their lives, UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences will sponsor a program that covers a range of death-related concerns, such as communicating with family members and passing on precious items.

“Death and dying is a topic we avoid, but by not talking about it we are asking loved ones to make decisions without our input,” said Lynda Spence, the program’s director. “Placing that burden on someone else can negatively impact relationships and also the way we are remembered.”

The program, called the The Art of Goodbye: End of Life Education series will be offered June 5, 12, 19 and July 10 at the On Top of the World retirement community in Ocala, Spence said. Although the course is free, advance registration is required.

Spence said participants in the course will have an emphasis on identifying personal values and beliefs that will help them begin to plan and communicate with family, friends and health care providers with greater self-determination.

“Group discussion, role play and various activities guide participants through complex issues and concerns,” she said. “Discussion is a huge part of the success of the program.”

Even those who are not elderly or terminally ill can benefit from the program, which was developed for adults of all ages, Spence said.

“Each lesson has specific objectives, but another overachieving goal is to inform participants so they are able to begin to plan,” she said. “Our goal is to ‘normalize’ the conversations around end-of-life concerns.”

UF alumna Rachael Johnston praised the university for offering useful courses such as The Art of Goodbye.

“Now that I’m getting older, I feel like looking into this is something that could definitely be beneficial,” the 21-year-old said. “I love that UF is able to offer us things like this in addition to our normal course curriculum. And it’s free, which is always a plus.”

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