Tag Archives: end of life wishes

Having conversations about health care wishes more important than ever

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

I hope you and your loved ones are able to reconnect in person this Memorial Day weekend. More opportunities to spend time with our elders abound with Father’s Day and July the 4th. Enjoy these special moments together, but also put this time to good use by having “the talk” about your loved one’s health care wishes.

Recently the University of Michigan published results of a poll that found COVID-19 had not prompted a significant increase in family discussions about what to do if one is struck with a severe illness or facing end-of-life care. If a deadly pandemic doesn’t prompt such discussions, then what can?

I understand how difficult these conversations can be. In my book, The Reluctant Caregiver, I discuss the challenges I had in initiating these discussions with my own parents. But I also talk about how my parents’ reluctance to make end-of-life care choices came with significant consequences for our family when they became ill. That is why I champion so passionately for everyone to have these talks and make these important health care decisions so your loved one’s wishes (and your own wishes) can be honored.

If you need assistance getting started, refer to the helpful resources section at the end of the University of Michigan Health Lab article. I also recommend Five Wishes. For those who have successfully had “the talk” with their loved ones, I’d love to hear your approach.

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The most important conversation of all

Many of us have struggled with having end-of-life discussions with our loved ones. But “the talk” is one of the most important conversations we can have with those we care about the most. Christopher MacLellan tackles the talk and offers some practical advice.

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Having “The Talk” does not have to be hard or difficult, yet the talk does have to happen at some point in our lives. I’m not referring to the birds and the bees talk our parents have with us when […]

via Having The Talk: How To Make End Of Life Wishes Easier — The Purple Jacket

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Dad’s fear of death

I believe I’ve mentioned before on this blog that my dad was afraid of dying. I never really explored the specific reasons why with him, but I do know he was afraid of suffocating and would have terrible nightmares around that theme.

Well, I hope Dad is okay as ashes in a container. I haven’t sealed the lid on my container, just in case he needs some more space!

But on a more serious note, his deep-seated fear of death led to a stony silence about any end-of-life discussions. My mom, ever the optimist, was more than willing to go along with him and pretend that the “d-word” was never going to happen. Sadly, this happens in a lot of families, and it’s usually the children or other relatives that are serving as caregivers that have to deal with the consequences.

I’m not a fan of legislation that tells people what to do, but I almost wish there was a legal requirement for people to indicate their basic end-of-life wishes in writing. Of course, these decisions would no doubt change over time, and the document would have to be updated, which would no doubt be a mess in some situations. Bureaucracy can be a big ugly beast, but the flip side is this void of knowledge, and a desperate family member forced to make life or death decisions for their loved one.

It was excruciating to watch my mom, who was in charge of making my dad’s health decisions, keep avoiding the DNR request, despite pleas from me and the medical staff. I know in her heart she felt she was doing the right thing, by giving Dad every chance possible to “recover.” But as those who have dealt with Alzheimer’s in their families know, that recovery is limited at best.

I say the above even though I’m not entirely sure what Dad would have wanted at the end of his life, if he had been in his right mind. Would he have been as afraid of the DNR order as death itself? Perhaps. Would he have wanted the broken ribs that came with the CPR that was given to him on the day he died? No, of course not, no one would.

I think Dad was most fearful of the unknown that comes with death, despite his religious beliefs. Did Alzheimer’s erase that fear or add to it? I wish I knew.


Filed under Memories