New Year’s is often a time for reflection on the past year of chaos and a determination that this year will be different. The realization that this determination hasn’t been all that effective in keeping the chaos at bay brings a new sense of realism into the thoughts for 2020. Perhaps it is the shocking reality that the calendar has more bookings of medical appointments than social ones that allows the thoughts to head in the direction of life and death. More influential however, is that in my day to day work at Hospice I am confronted with life and death issues. John Lennon said, “life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”, and we rarely are prepared for the questions of life and death that we will need to face at some point. At the risk of being accused of morbidity, let me introduce some interesting family discussion at the beginning of this year that may cause some interesting and provocative thinking around this topic.
http://www.engagewithgrace.org/ is a website dedicated to engaging society in some of the most significant discussion we can have. The members are commitment to asking 5 questions around end of life issues that need to be asked and answered by family members. Here they are. Take the time to explore with your family. It may be some of the most important New Year discussion you will have.
1. On a scale of 1 to 5, where do you fall on this continuum?
2. If there were a choice, would you prefer to die at home, or in a hospital?
3. Could a loved one correctly describe how you would like to be treated in the case of a terminal illness?
4. Is there someone you trust whom you’ve appointed to advocate on your behalf when the time is near?
5. Have you completed any of the following: written a living will, appointed a healthcare power of attorney, or completed an advanced directive?
Our discomfort with talking around end of life issues only makes this time more difficult when it comes. What if braving this conversation now allows us to understand one another’s wishes so that we can be sure that decisions made later will be the best ones? Besides we may learn things about one another in the discussion.