End of Life Planning
End of Life Planning
My life has been filled with experiences that have taught me the importance of planning ahead and taking care of those we love in the event that we are unable to do so ourselves. One of the most critical of these issues is planning for the end of our lives.
I know this is one of the most difficult subjects I will ever discuss with you, but it's so important. I hope you will allow yourself this opportunity to consider these necessary actions for the sake of your well-being and as well as that of your loved ones.
None of us knows exactly how or when we will die, but we all know it will happen...someday. I believe that we should try to approach death in the same manner that, hopefully, we approach life - intentionally and with an effort to do as much good and as little harm as possible. When it comes to exiting gracefully, it is best to plan for and embrace our eventual death as consciously as possible.
Here are some steps to take in thinking about how you would like to live the last days of your life:
1. Begin by writing out how you would want to live the last days of your life. Where would you like to be? Who would you like to be with you? What ceremonies or rituals would you like performed? What services or celebrations would you like held in honor of your life? (Personally, I want the party before I go and then a great roast at my funeral...which had better be good or I'll be back!)
2. Create an "End of Life" Journal and write out your thoughts and feelings about your life's journey. Inside, you might also write a letter to each of your loved ones. Express whatever you need them to know so that you can both be complete when you're gone.
3. Discuss your wishes in detail with your spouse, trusted friend, or family members. Ask for their support in allowing you to leave in the manner of your choosing.
4. Appoint someone who is emotionally willing and capable to be in charge of your personal, medical and financial affairs. Create a file with all of your insurance, legal and financial documents and review it in advance with your appointed agent. Make sure this person is fully capable of handling the responsibility of caring for your medical needs and financial affairs.
5. In order for your wishes to be carried out, it is important that you complete a living will and a state approved medical directive. Prepare these legal forms well in advance to avoid a crisis later. Without this, your family or appointed agent will not have the legal right to make decisions on your behalf.
6. Share your desire to have your loved ones fully support your wishes and not interfere with your medical directives, even if they disagree.
7. Discuss what you'd like to have happen as your illness progresses. Ask your loved ones and family to be your advocate if you cannot communicate for yourself.
8. Discuss your end-of-life wishes with your doctor and healthcare providers in detail. Have them explain your end-of-life choices and options thoroughly. Make sure you discuss your pain management options with them and give them a copy of your medical directive. Physicians are not required to follow directives if they disagree with your wishes, so it's best to have a candid discussion with them and ask them if they plan to honor your directives.
9. You may want or need to look into hospice options in your area. Hospice workers are highly trained, end-of-life caregivers who are truly a gift to the dying and their loved ones during their final days.
10. You may want to request a loving prayer vigil to surround you in love and light during your transition. Death, like life, is a spiritual journey. Although we must all someday leave this earth, we must always remember that we wherever we go, we go with God. Know that as we leave this place and our human body, we are simply returning to His loving arms and embracing His Greater Plan for our spiritual unfolding.
Here's a poem:
From the womb I came
Tied to this umbilical cord called love;
The source of life that nourishes
And sustains us on this human journey.
On my darkest nights,
When lost I became,
Love's light would find me,
Her hand gently guide me,
Like a wick to the flame.
When my heart was filled with pain and regret,
Love came clothed in forgiveness.
Showed me the mercy in surrender
And healed my brokenness.
I came here with nothing,
Yet I leave with everything.
No lesson more lasting than this simple truth;
Life is not about living; it is about loving.
So when I'm gone and all that's left of me is love,
Give it away!
So that the seed that began as my love for you
Continues to blossom throughout time,
through me to you and onto the next,
like seeds in the wind.
And in this way, I shall live forever.