Prior to my parents’ passing, I did not realize how important it was to have advanced directives in place. Each time I have visited my physician, I have received a reminder and know what I intend to do I just haven’t taken that next step to put it down on paper.
When my mom passed, my dad handled all the questions and issues that may have surfaced. So again I didn’t really pay attention to completing my own advanced directives. However, when my dad passed a few months ago, what followed became a very important and valuable lesson learned. I now know the importance of getting these directives and my wishes in place.
Mom and Dad had taken the time to produce living wills, as well as simple instructional wills regarding their estate. They each had established DNR (do not resuscitate) orders which were prominently displayed on the refrigerator following their cancer diagnoses. Because they personally had made the decisions and taken these steps, it truly lessened the burdens on my siblings and me at a time of tremendous grief.
What a lesson! I am so grateful that my dad taught me that these important decisions are mine to make now, while living, because dying is inevitable. By completing the documentation, I will be the one to plan for it and make those very difficult decisions not leave it to my children or other relatives to deal with and figure out at my end stage.
Not all families have the relationships and trust to be able to do this. I encourage you to think this through now – ahead of time – and take whatever action is appropriate for you. Instead of uncertainty, it provides clarity to your family and allows everyone to draw on the strengths of each other, grieve and heal, without questioning whether it’s a “right” or “wrong” decision. This forethought will save your loved ones unnecessary angst at a time when emotions are high and decisions difficult.