We Are Going to Die One Day …
How do we prepare for the inevitable?
Like the old saying goes—there are two things for sure in life: death and taxes! It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when. Too often families are not able to talk comfortably about the preparation for the death of a loved one because it is not a topic anyone wants to think about. Yet we must. Most important is to remember acceptance of death helps everyone focus on quality of life prior to death.
Making decisions early about death and dying issues means you are prepared when you or loved ones arrive at the end of life. Thoughtful parents can lead by meeting with the family, providing specific advance health care documents that list all the tasks that require careful, detailed steps for clear implementation. To begin, suggestions from an article by authors in the private nonprofit organization Aging With Dignity invites the dying person to consider five wishes to think about to prepare for the end of life. This process helps because it allows family and caregivers to know exactly what the one facing death wants, relieving everyone from the difficult, often awkward situation of having to guess. Here are the five wishes:
• the person I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t;
• the kind of medical treatment I want or don’t want;
• how comfortable I want to be;
• how I want people to treat me; and
• what I want my loved ones to know.
For the person who is dying, communicating your wishes to your loved one is particularly important. In every community are kind, experienced resources ready to help, such as a trusted pastor, family counselor, lawyer, social worker, relative, friend or someone who has lost a family member or close friend. Being together to plan gives everyone a chance to participate and when illness makes the coming of death imminent, the courage to express feelings of sadness over the loss creates the foundation for acceptance. Always speak to a medical professional for assistance. We must also be mindful when there are young ones watching the slow demise of a beloved grandparent, for example, sharing their feelings is helpful and healthy for everyone. A prudent, necessary step is to evaluate whether medical treatment is advancing to improve health or prolonging suffering. “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”
To avoid the burden of financial pressure on the surviving family members, some families pay into a funeral plan package that provides clear agreements for all who wish to share the costs. All arrangements are made in advance so there are few decisions left when the time comes. Sometimes the plans for the funeral, even including details of the service, the hymns, the flowers, and so forth, are identified by the person who is dying, saving the family from wondering what their wishes would be.
The result for the dying, for those anticipating loss and already grieving, for all who want to make their final visits to say goodbye—when arrangements are made and funded—is the blessing of being together in collective appreciation and gratitude with peace of mind.
Let us all be prepared: Preservation of Life vs. Prolongation of Death. “The best answers are not about right and wrong, but about God’s grace manifest in Christ.”
P.S. An urgent reminder—get vaccinated; make an appointment for your booster shot after September 20; wear your face mask; wash your hands often; and stay six feet apart. Let’s be a community who cares. We can do this!