I support people who are facing their end stage of life and their families.
What does that mean exactly?
It means I provide non-medical services to 1) individuals diagnosed with a life-limiting/altering disease, disorder or condition; 2) individuals who have received a terminal prognosis; 3) individuals age 60 or over; 4) individuals who have had a medical scare; 5) individuals who have suffered a traumatic injury/event; 6) any individual who understands the importance of planning ahead.
Often I am told that my work must be heartbreaking.
I do get my heart broken often, but it is not the work I do that breaks my heart…it is the work I don’t get to do that breaks my heart.
For instance, a social media friend posted this recently and my heart shattered into a million pieces…
“So I find myself speechless, an animal unheard of…my father is now on comfort care, unexpected to live past the weekend. Who prepares you for such a calamity of events? Who prepares you for a hostile mother, wickedness and (un)comfortable in her environment. I’m not prepared, is anyone?”
This was the Friday after Christmas and he died early Monday morning.
The truth is we can be prepared. I help people be prepared. You will never be ready, but you can actually be prepared.
The thing is though you can’t wait until you see it coming.
The words of this social media post belong to a 65 year registered nurse who had a long career at a well respected hospital and who graduated from law school last year.
She was sure she’d see it coming.
She is not the average human being. She is highly intelligent, well educated and has intense medical knowledge.
But she didn’t see it coming.
What chance do the rest of us have to see it coming?
I had another conversation with a person who had done all sorts of pre-planning with her 85 year old mother. Very involved and very thorough and yet she was surprised at how quickly her mother died after moving into a foster home. And at 2:00 am she was caught off guard by the call to contact the funeral home they hadn’t even chosen yet because it just fell through the cracks.
I had another conversation with a son who asked, ‘Why didn’t anyone tell us six months ago that this was the beginning of the end for my 81 year old mother? We would’ve made different choices.’
I can’t tell you why the medical community is having such a hard time communicating with the families of those who are in the end stage of life. I can guess, theorize, speculate and ponder but the truth is there is no ONE reason.
There is a culture in our entire society that death will not happen to us. There is an underlying message from the pharmaceutical and medical communities that death is something we can beat with a pill or a treatment unless it is ‘God’s will’. There is a negativity factor assigned to anyone who dares to discuss death as a possibility. There is a label of morbid assigned to anyone who wants to discuss death when it is not imminent. There is a denial that runs like the famed river throughout our culture as a whole.
No one is comfortable taking away hope, yet hope remains always! Hope for a cure may be extinguished, however hope for peace, for comfort, for transcendent experiences, for genuine moments that create lasting memories, for loving kindness, for deep spiritual bonding and for living life to the fullest to the last moment always remain!
Watching people live a life in denial of inevitable death is what is heart breaking for me.
I’ve seen death. Lots of death.
I’ve seen death ignored and shunned and disenfranchised. The results being tortured isolation and devastating loneliness. The bereaved often filled with regret and second guess all decisions.
I’ve seen death embraced and celebrated and unfettered. The results are life affirming and inspiring. The bereaved are filled with peace and no regrets.
Think about this. What would bring the most regret? Living many years despite having conversations about the possibility of death, creating legacy projects and sharing intimate moments? Or dying without talking openly about the possibility of death, not creating legacy projects and not sharing intimate thoughts with the pretense of ‘remaining positive’?
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, then it is appropriate to start emotional estate planning.
- Have you lost one or both of your parents?
- Have you, or anyone you love, had a life-threatening medical scare?
- Have you had a partner die?
- Have you, or anyone you love, received a life-limiting diagnosis?
- Have you, or anyone you love, experienced a decline in health in the past five years?
- Do you have a family?
- Do you have children?
- Have you experienced the sudden loss of someone dear to you and were left with the feeling of “I wish I had one more day with them”?
- Have you had conversations about your wishes for medical interventions or post-mortem services but haven’t documented it?
- Did you answer no to all of the above?
If you answered yes to any of the above -including #10, it wasn’t a trick question- then it’s appropriate to schedule an Initial Inventory Planning Session with an experienced guide.
The session is 90 minutes long and includes a copy of LIFE’S Book: Healing Rites of Passage End of Life Planner, that has everything you will need to easily create, update and maintain your emotional estate planning.
We even work nationally and internationally with the help of video. Upon receipt of payment we will send your book and conduct a video session after you receive it.