One of the greatest gifts you can give to friends, family, loved ones, and even yourself, is to discuss and clearly communicate your end-of-life plans before you can no longer advocate for yourself.
“If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan.”
~ Terence McKenna
One single fact is indisputable: no one is guaranteed tomorrow.
At Eternal Reefs, we receive numerous inquiries and questions about issues like living wills and final directives. We are not legal experts and none of the following information should be construed as legal advice, however we do want to offer helpful resources. Each state has differing laws and, in some cases, terminology. It is important to check the laws and legal requirements of your state as you prepare to address these critical and important decisions.
Eternal Reefs has seen the spectrum from families that have been fully prepared to deal with and complete their loved one’s final wishes to those that had no idea what their loved one wanted or what the “right” decision should be. We’ve seen many variations of end-of-life wishes, but one constant rings true: no one is guaranteed tomorrow.
Starting the end-of-life discussion
It starts with having “The Conversation”…sitting down with family, friends and loved ones to discuss your end-of-life wishes and who will be responsible for carrying them out once you can no longer advocate and speak for yourself. Many people are uncomfortable and struggle with how to start this discussion and, thus, avoid and never have it. There is a website, theconversationproject.org, that can help provide the tools to make this discussion easier.
Communicating end-of-life care wishes
Deciding what a family member would want when they are unable to decide for themselves can be an overwhelming prospect for some. Learn how to communicate end-of-life care wishes with clinicians and family from Nursing@Georgetown, the online MSN program from the School of Nursing & Health Studies.
End-of-life Planning Guide
There are a number of issues to consider and discuss, including what you want done if you are still living and unable to communicate. Do you want to be kept alive as long as possible, or do you wish to have no extraordinary measures taken to keep you alive? A complete guide called “The Five Wishes” to these questions and issues can be found on The Aging with Dignity website at agingwithdignity.org. This planning guide can also be used as a legally binding document for end-of-life issues in more than 40 states.
A lot of people talk about being an organ donor and just never get around to putting the decision in writing. They may think that it can only be done when you renew your driver’s license, and that is not the case. The organdonor.gov website helps explain the need for organ donation and how to set up directives.
Another question to consider is the use of hospice. The concept of hospice began with the idea of providing dignity, peace and high-quality care during the final days of a terminally ill person. Hospice services vary considerably and should researched. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization is a great place to start. Hospice services can be a huge benefit and relief to the patient as well as to family members and loved ones.
Grief and grief management
Dealing with a loss is a very difficult journey for most people. Identifying and managing grief may require professional guidance.
For information on death and grief counseling, we recommend contacting The Association for Death Education and Counseling at adec.org. This organization can point you to resources nationally and in your community.
- Dealing with Anger in Grief
- Six Ways Grief Counseling Can Help You
- Decluttering Your Home after the Loss of a Loved One: A Step-by-Step Guide to Moving through the Difficult Process
- Grief and Recovery: Overcoming Guilt and Loss After the Death of an Adult Child
- Ways Grief Can Lead to Addiction
Eternal Reefs encourages you to consider addressing that difficult, but highly important conversation and get decisions in writing. It’s one gift that will keep giving for years to come.