A conversation about life coming to Coon Rapids

Managing Editor
Mandy has been with ABC Newspapers since 2007, when she joined the staff as the editor of the Anoka County Union. She has been the managing editor of the UnionHerald and Blaine Spring Lake Park Life since 2014.

The Convenings is a conversation about life and how to live well, at all the stages along the journey.

Cathy Wurzer will host The Convenings March 7 at Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids. Photo submitted
Cathy Wurzer will host The Convenings March 7 at Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids. Photo submitted

It will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, March 7, at Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids.

Hosted by Cathy Wurzer of MPR and TPT, The Convenings is a continuation of the conversations she had with Bruce Kramer while he was living with ALS.

Kramer was the dean of the School of Education at St. Thomas University, and after his diagnosis in 2010, he and Wurzer recorded a series of conversations that aired on MPR and wrote a book together called “We Know How This Ends: Living While Dying.” Kramer died in 2015.

The Convenings incorporates community engagement on multiple levels. The 90-minute show includes an evening of music, storytelling and meaningful conversation about living and dying well.

The March 7 event in Coon Rapids will also feature Twin Cities storyteller Kevin Kling who brings the perspectives of living with disabilities, both from birth as well as the result of a motorcycle accident that nearly killed him.

Wurzer is sharing what she learned from Kramer in communities all over Minnesota. The Convenings has already had stops in Luverne and Ely.

“What he offered was a master class in how to live,” she said. “This is not about death and dying – it’s about living.”

When Wurzer and Kramer were together, sometimes they cried, but more often they laughed.

People who attend The Convenings can expect some of that laughter, especially with Kling in the house, she said.

While The Convenings includes information and discussion about end-of-life care, it also goes beyond to encourage thought on how to live well.

Near the end of Kramer’s life, Wurzer asked him if he had become the man he wanted to be.

“He told me he was close,” Wurzer said, but he had run out of time.

She hopes The Convenings is a spark that starts people thinking and talking about living well, before it’s too late.

“A lot of people thank us for opening that door,” Wurzer said.

Those very public conversations Wurzer and Kramer had really struck a chord with MPR listeners. Instead of being repelled, people were acutely interested.

“People wanted to know, how do you live with a disease, a disability or even death,” she said.

Kramer told Wurzer he hoped she would take their work forward, to look for the ripples in their work for guidance.

That took the form of longer community conversations across the state.

Wurzer has been surprised at the intimate details people are willing to discuss at The Convenings. Many are willing to share what they have learned from living with a loved one who has a serious health issue.

There is also a wealth of information on www.honoringchoices.org for people who are more comfortable to learn on their own.

The group also intends to hold “Reconvenings” in those same communities, following up on what has happened since that initial conversation and discussing next steps.

To register for The Convenings event in the northwest metro or for more information, go to www.honoringchoices.org/theconvenings, or call 612-362-3724.

The Convenings is presented by Honoring Choices Minnesota, a statewide initiative engaging families in end-of-life decision making, and www.kramercollaborative.org, a nonprofit dedicated to community engagement around living and dying well.

Funding is provided by Allina Health, CentraCare Health and Health Partners.

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