End of life discussion

Let’s talk about the unspeakable…  Your Death.

“End?  No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path… one that we all must take.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Some die suddenly.  Yet for many the process is slow.  They move from mentally able into Alzheimer’s Disease or some other form of dementia.  Cancer, Heart Disease,  Lung Diseases  can all cause a slow decline when toward the end the patient is not fully aware or able to make good decisions.

Sometimes the line for when to stop treatment and to begin releasing into death is not easy to see or recognize.  A good book on this topic of end of life decisions and treatment is Being Mortal.

Very often in a long illness or a long life, our cognition goes before our body.  That is why it is so imperative to have the dreaded end-of-life discussions sooner rather than later.

Later may be too late.

If we all must die at some point, then we all should complete a living will because if we die slowly, and IF we lose cognitive ability or the ability to communicate.  We need to make sure that our views about how we want to be treated in our last days is carried out.

LIVING WILL – Read it, complete it, Discuss it.

  • Get a copy of a living will. This is a paper that discusses treatments that you want or don’t want toward the end of your life.  Things like a feeding tube, IV for hydration, etc.
  • Discuss it with your family members and those who may be in the position of helping you in the end.
  • Take it to your Doctor, show it to them and ask if they will be able to honor those wishes or if they would enforce their OWN agenda/morals/ethics in your last weeks. If they can honor your wishes, make sure a copy is put in your medical files at the doctor’s office and the hospital you would most likely be taken to for treatment.
  • Keep an end of life file. In this file should be your living will, your regular will, a list of your bank and investment accounts and any login information, your family and lawyer’s contact information, any other information you want to share about your last desires.

“In the blink of an eye, everything can change.  So forgive often and love with all your heart.  You may never get a second chance.”  Unknown