By Mary Lou
Since I work in healthcare, I have learned from our hospice staff about the value of making your end-of-life wishes known. In fact, I always talked about it whenever I was invited to speak on hospice.
I was talking the talk. The time had come to walk the walk.
Armed with the right forms, I talked about this with my husband several years ago. Dying is not a pleasant topic. In fact, most people will avoid it. As much as we didn’t want to think about a time without each other, or the time our children would face without us, it was time to make our wishes known. So, we worked through the forms, asked for clarification when we needed it and put the original documents in a blue folder.
The next step was a little more difficult. Which two of our four children would we identify as our healthcare representatives? It was not so much deciding which two as it was talking to all four of them about what we were doing. We took the opportunity the next time they were all together at our home.
When the kids were growing up, we had family meetings around the kitchen table, mostly to talk about “issues.” I’m quite certain that when we called them all together in our living room that day, there were flashbacks to those probably dreaded, sometimes painful meetings of yesteryear. But we proceeded.
I am usually the spokesperson when it comes to declarations, toasts, prayer intentions and other announcements, so I took the lead. I held up the blue folder and told them that we were giving them what we felt was a very special gift. We were essentially giving them the gift of non-assumption, no guess work and hopefully no worry. We were telling them exactly how we wanted to be cared for if we were not able to communicate for ourselves.
When it came to identifying the two who would serve as healthcare representatives, they essentially self-selected. One in town and one living out of town.
Then we signed the documents, had them witnessed and made multiple copies. Each of us has a copy in our medical record, in our safety deposit box, with our two children who are the healthcare decision makers and the original is in the blue folder. Before the kids left that day, we showed them where the blue folder would be kept.
I am quite certain they did not see the value in that gift that day, and maybe they never will. But if the time comes, they can just be brothers and sister supporting each other rather than adult children struggling with tough decisions.
About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hrrv.org.