Having your end of life preparations in order is important for your final goodbye to be sacred. Approaching this stage of life has multiple challenges, but guidance and resources can help acclimate you on the key issues to consider when preparing for your next stage of life, including advanced directives, conversations with family and planning for your life to be celebrated.
Simplifying Significant Decisions
Give the gift of peace of mind to your loved ones by completing an advanced directive, a legal document that specifies your desired medical decisions to your health care team and loved ones. In the event you cannot make decisions for yourself, your loved ones will know how to honor your wishes as well as empower medical staff to make the right decisions in a case of an emergency or unforeseeable circumstance. The document eases the burden from loved ones having to make decisions during a crisis and prevents disagreements.
The Five Wishes document simplifies the emotional and spiritual complexity of these end of life decisions for ease. It addresses:
Who you want to make care decisions for you when you cannot
What medical treatment you do and do not want
How comfortable you want to be
How you want people to treat you
What you want your loved ones to know
Miller’s Grant provides the Five Wishes document, which is available in Rev. Stacey Brady’s office, and the Maryland Attorney General has other forms of advance directives if you prefer a different resource.
Conversations Benefiting All
Your choices for your end of life care should express exactly what you desire. However, it is important to include your circle of loved ones in this process especially if they are involved with your plan. Your circle may include family, friends, clergy and caretakers. Although these conversations can happen individually for more intimate discussion, your wishes should be communicated to everyone so they can understand and respect your decisions whenever the time comes.
Conversations about end of life care is a sensitive topic, emotionally uncomfortable and inevitable. Preserve your final moments on earth for saying goodbye by having a life-care plan conversation before it is too late.
How to start “the talk”:
“You are an important person to me, and I want you to know this …”
“I’ve had a lot on my mind lately …”
“Since my last birthday, I’ve been thinking …”
“Would you be a part of some important decisions with me …”
Once you start the talk, you want to talk about what matters most to you when you are in your end stages as well as discussing your fears. For example, if your fear is that no one will talk to you about what is happening tell your loved ones you want to be informed. It is also important to discuss your wishes for celebrating your life. If you have ideas or preferences for how you want your loved ones to celebrate, express these wishes with them.
Remember to reaffirm your appreciation and love for those who are taking part in upholding your final wishes. The conversation is difficult and inevitable, but trusting in those who are part of you circle will get you through.
Celebration of Life
If you decide you want input on how your life is celebrated, now is the time to decide your wishes and express them to loved ones. How do you want others to celebrate your life when you die? What kind of service do you want? Many people desire a formal funeral service but some prefer a celebration of life that focuses on everyone sharing memories. Consider favorite hymns, scriptures, music that you want at your service. You should also think about who you want to have speak – maybe a family or clergy member. There are many things to consider for how you want to be celebrated. If you wish to keep your desires private, in a notebook or journal, tell someone where your wishes can be found.
Preparing an advanced directive and having these conversations with your loved ones are the best ways to ensure a peaceful departure to your afterlife.
About the Author
Rev. Stacey Brady is the director of church services for Lutheran Social Ministries of Maryland and chaplain a Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant, an LSMMD community.