All too often families and individuals put off one of the most important conversations of their lives and then find themselves in a world of hurt, or worse, not having the capacity to communicate their desires at the end of life. Reasons for this vary, but the consequences end up being the same, others are left making the decision for you, often with long-term consequences for you and those around you.
With this in mind, we should think of starting this conversation as a gift that often brings a sense of connection with those around us. So, the question is how do I or we start such a conversation? The good news is you can start the conversation any way you wish. Perhaps by starting an engaged in conversation with your loved ones about your wishes and hopes for how you would like to be treated in your last months. Perhaps using an event that those around you can relate to might be the starter. Whatever feels right is the way to start and far better than not starting the discussion at all.
Here’s how it started in my family. Years ago, after I had a significant bike accident, one of my adult children asked what treatment I would want if I were tragically
hurt. This question began a discussion with my spouse and our closest family members. The result was a clear understanding of my desires and a document that empowers my family to make these decisions. It was freeing and enabled all of us to speak openly about our thoughts on care and end of-life options.
Try starting with “I’d like to share my hopes and dreams for my last months of life.” You don’t need a goal, it’s an evolution of many conversations. As we age and go through health issues, our sense of what we would like evolves. Your conversations over time or however long it takes should guide you to the following:
- What are my desires for aggressive care and weighing the balance of the burdens of such care?
- Who do you wish to be your advocate for these decisions when you are unable?
- Make sure your advocate will honor your wishes and share your desires even when they are saddened by these turn of events.
- Discuss your financial goals with whom would manage them when you are no longer able.
Often this conversation doesn’t begin because people might be fearful of the outcome of them. It doesn’t matter what you say; it is more important to open the dialog. Remember doing nothing or avoiding this discussion ultimately puts you at risk of having these important decisions made by others often without your input.
In the worst scenario, you hand over these decisions to governmental entities by not finalizing your wishes with those you love. So please start the discussion with those closest to you.
Article Provided by:
Rogue Valley Council of Governments