We lead an educational support group in the Portland Oregon metropolitan area to help individuals and families prepare for and cope with a life-threatening illness. We also provide training for people who wish to teach this class in their own church or organization. Here is the syllabus for the class:

“Help for Families: Facing a Life-threatening Illness Holding Christ’s Hand” a 9 Week Class

Class One: A Life-threatening Illness is a Family Experience

Key Concepts

  • Overview
  • A terminal diagnosis affects the whole family dramatically
  • Terminal illness causes special difficulties
  • Life changes forever
  • The Lord is with you, holding your hand

Class Two: Coping with a Terminal Illness

Key Concepts

  • Common emotions
  • Special problems caused by terminal illnesses
  • Good communication is very important
  • How to ask for help

Class Three: Living with Change

Key Concepts

  • How children react
  • Learning a new normal
  • Focus on wellness
  • Taking care of the caregiver
  • Don’t let the disease define who you are

Class Four: Dealing with the Why

Key Concepts

  • Why is this happening to you?
  • Where is God in all of this?
  • What are the biblical explanations for suffering?
  • Christ understands your suffering.

Class Five: Planning for the Future

Key Concepts

  • Important steps to take/documents to identify
  • Modifying your environment to accommodate physical changes
  • Searching for resources
  • Settle unfinished business
  • End of life documents
  • Planning the funeral


Class Six: Heaven and Other Things

Key Concepts

  • About Heaven
  • Will we get new bodies?
  • About crowns
  • About Judgment Day
  • About Hell

Class Seven: Difficult Decisions

Key Concepts

  • Palliative care
  • Hospice
  • Inpatient hospice/hospital
  • The use of pain medication
  • When to choose more treatment, when to stop
  • Deciding when to stop life support
  • Keeping in home or moving to assisting living
  • The right-to-die from a biblical perspective

Class Eight: Later Stages

Key Concepts

  • Preparing for the end
  • Fear of death--blessed assurance
  • The physical aspects of dying
  • When Elijah wanted to die
  • Keeping the vigil
  • Bringing the family together
  • Saying goodbye

Class Nine: Eternal Purpose

Key Concepts

  • The answer to the question of why
  • A terminal illness can change the family forever
  • God's symphony orchestra in the last days
  • Passing the blessing
  • What does your unique journey look like?
  • How has God touched your family?