If I Can't Speak For Myself... Wishes for End of Life

Dear Barbara, What is the best way I can prepare for my death?

First have an Advance Directive. It outlines in writing, as a legal document, the extent of the medications and procedures that you want done should you not be able to tell the physicians directly what you want, if you are in a life threatening situation. Without an Advanced Directive you will face the end of your life the way the medical profession deems appropriate. This often involves a respirator, ventilator, and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) should your heart stop. Without directions medical personnel generally do everything medically possible to keep the body breathing-- even when there is no chance of reversal or of living any kind of a quality life.

Once the Advanced Directive is made then you must tell people you have one. It doesn’t do any good if no one knows about it. Have a conversation with those people that are closest to you about your ideas of “the perfect death”. “If I can’t speak for myself, here is what I want you to do---”. Sit down with your primary physician and explain to them what your thoughts are about approaching the end of your life.

Just giving the signed papers to your physician is not enough. You need to have a direct, real conversation about end of life. Complete the Advance Directive and have the talk with your physician before you need to. Do it now while you are healthy. You can always change your mind, but don’t wait until you need it. When you need it you probably won’t be able to articulate what you want.

Now that the paper work and conversations are finished, I think the best way to prepare for your death is to live. You should make each day special. Live life to your idea of the fullest. Do and say what you want done and said.

There are no guarantees for how long life will be. Life is a terminal illness. From the moment we are born we begin to die. We are all dying, so I think the best way to prepare for our death is to live each day consciously, with purpose and joy. Then when we ask ourselves at the end of the day “What have I traded a day of my life for?” we will be pleased with our answer. We will not have regrets.

Something More About IF I CAN'T SPEAK FOR MYSELF...

We prepare to drive, to give birth, to raise children... we need to prepare for a "good death". The Final Act of Living is a good place to start! Included in the book is information on Living Wills and durable power of attorney.


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Cyrele Clausen

I thought the information you shared in this blog article was wonderful. I’ve been a hospice social worker for 19 years. I would just want to clarify that the term “Advance Directive” is often a plural term: Advance Directives. States can vary on which forms they consider as Advanced Directives. I have been living in Kansas the past few years and our state recognizes the 3 main documents: 1. A Living Will 2. Medical Power of Attorney for Health Care 3. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR). The document that you described in the article sounded like a Living Will. You don’t have to wait until you have a terminal illness to complete a Living Will or a Medical Power of Attorney for Health Care. All adults should have these documents. A DNR typically needs to be signed by the patient’s physician. You don’t necessarily need to go to lawyer to complete Advance Directives. Social Workers complete these forms in hospitals and hospice programs for their patients. Some local hospitals or hospice programs will assist residents in completing these forms.

Claludia Hauri

Once again Barbara gives sage advice. I have an AD written so tight even the lawyer said “are you sure”? Hopefully I will be cognizant enough to have a celebration of my life BEFORE I die so I can thank all my friends for being part of my life. Funeral plans are in writing, where to scatter my ashes, who gets personal items: car, an antique, etc. I have no heirs except for charity, the trustee & my caretaker. Besides Barbara’s book, in Florida Google 5 Wishes as a simple starter.
Now that all that is done I have budgeted my savings & am living my remaining life to the fullest.
Did this when I was 70 – now 75 – & reviewing has been done….all remains in order.
ANYONE, & I repeat, anyone over 21 needs to complete an AD so family, parents, siblings, etc., know
what your wishes for a good death are. Death is a tragedy for many, let alone if they have no clue what to do or what you would have wanted.


well said….just share this with everyone

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