On this blog, I focus a lot on preplanning, on getting your wishes around your final arrangement detailed, communicated, and paid for. It’s my passion, and what I believe strongly in–saving money and stress by establishing well-thought-through plans based in information and research.
(You should never try to buy a car with me–the information and research stage will kill you!)
But this is only one aspect of the cornucopia of End Of Life decisions. I find it right for my focus on and drive toward research and planning, because it’s one with largely knowable outcome–no matter how you die, it’s nearly 100% certain that there will be a body to be dealt with at the end (disasters and missing-presumed-dead scenarios notwithstanding, naturally). You can think ahead decades and know how you’d like to be disposed of, even begin making the arrangements (plot/urn/etc) that will be necessary, and be comfortable that those decisions will still be applicable and relevant when you do finally die.
Decisions and discussions around the other side of End of Life–the dying part, not the dead part–are far less cut and dried, but perhaps even more important. There are so many variables, so many things that could and do go not like you planned them–Alzheimer’s, strokes, surgical complications, and so on. To plan for your wishes against a sea of unknowns seems foolish, but it just makes the process that much more important!
As this article makes clear, often doctors aren’t even prepared or capable of bringing up the conversations around dying, and families often don’t, especially in crisis. But you need to.
Options regarding end-of-life care should be discussed well before an emergency — or for those with dementia, during the early stages of mental decline. “The absolute worst time to contemplate decisions about medical care is when one is critically ill and in the hospital,” Dr. Volandes writes.
The kinds of questions doctors should be asking:
■ What gives your life meaning and joy?
■ What are your biggest fears and concerns?
■ What are you looking forward to?
■ What goals are most important to you now?
■ What trade-offs or sacrifices are you willing to make to achieve those goals?
Start your conversations now, around everything End of Life. You never know when it will get here.
Planning ahead isn’t optional. Not for funeral arrangements, not for a ‘good’ death, not for finances. The end of life is coming–how will you meet it?