…Practical advice on finding a connection with who you are, what you're about and what a good death means to you as you grow inwardly and age outwardly.
Tag : Charles Sabatino

dianeshutter stockSurveys such as one by The Conversation Project tell us that nearly all of us believe we should have conversations about wishes at end of life but few of us actually do it.

I honestly believed these findings applied to everyone else that I didn’t know. Certainly not my friends. Not my family. And so I decided to find out….. Were my loved ones talking about dying and why or why not?

I also wanted to know what’s behind these findings. What are the explanations and excuses for not talking about dying? For not having appointed healthcare proxy? Or, not having an advance medical directive?

What I found out validated the reports! I can’t believe it, not in my backyard. Not my loved ones. They choose not to have conversations about wishes at end of life.

Here’s what I heard and maybe you might find that some of what’s said sounds familiar.

Sure I procrastinate about planning how I wish to die. I’m healthy and I’m not old.

What’s the point of planning for something you have no control over, we’re all going to die somehow.

When my Mom died, it was wild, last minute decision making among the family, horrible arguments, sleepless nights and worst of all the guilt I live with everyday of letting her die. You’re asking me if I talk about dying? Nope, don’t see the point because it’ll get wild and crazy anyway.

I have chosen someone as my power of attorney. What do you mean that that person can’t make medical decisions for me?

I keep meaning to get around to it but there never seems to be a right time.

Why have family believe I have a death wish?

When I look back I know I should have spoken up for my Mom, but I also knew I didn’t want to feel guilty about not doing everything possible to save her. I’m sure my kids will be the same way regardless of what I say I want or don’t want. No, I don’t talk about it and I don’t have an advance medical directive. I don’t see the need. It’ll all work out.

Of course she can speak for me, she always has! Why sign a piece of paper?

I don’t like talking about dying. It’s morbid.

You know, it’s easier to talk about death and after you’re gone. I’ve had no problem writing up who gets what and where I want to be put to rest. I even created a list of songs to play at the wake I call, “Tunes to Die For.” That’s easier.

Just shoot me.

When the time comes, leave me on the hospital’s doorstep.

I don’t want to burden my family with conversations about dying. What happens, happens. They can handle it.

Leave it up to others – you know, the doctors, my wife, the kids.

So, there you have it. The reasons behind not having the talk generate this: choosing to pass the responsibility to others without choosing someone to speak on your behalf when you cannot.

 Here’s something about health care proxy that I think you should hear:

Charles Sabatino, Director of the ABA’s Commission on Law and Aging said, “We do know that the appointment of a health care agent or proxy improves the decision making process, from both the provider’s and agent’s perspectives, because it clarifies who should be directly involved in the decisions at the time decisions need to be made and allows the decision-maker to weigh all the facts and options in real time. However, (and this is really important) merely an appointed agent does not necessarily mean that the agent is well-informed about the patient’s goals and wishes or engaged effectively in decision-making on behalf of the patient.”

Appointing a health care proxy is a big deal!

And yes, it’s better to have one than not have a plan at all. But better still, is to choose someone who really knows you and your wishes for dying care. Someone who has helped you along the way and will be there to help you in the end.

There’s another way I want to say this: That having these conversations can be gift to give to yourself and your loved ones about the lasting memory of the last days you live.  And that’s a most incredible ultimate plan for end of life.

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Posted on September 30, 2013 by Diane Burnside Murdock