Tomorrow I Will Make my Wishes Known, but not Today

We talk about a Durable Medical Power of Attorney and how important it is to make our end of life wishes known.

If we don’t legally make our wishes known in writing and generally notarized, healthcare professionals will make those decisions for us. 

Those decisions will be to try to start our heart when it stops beating. (The chances of this procedure being successful if there is a life threatening illness or we are age compromised are slim.) Medical providers will generally listen to the “loudest protester” as to what care is to be given. Generally that loud voice is shouting to do everything to keep their special person alive—no matter what.

A Durable Medical Power of Attorney is very important because it assigns a specific person to make medical decisions for us when we can’t make those decisions for ourselves. A person who understands our wishes and intentions will speak for us when we can’t. This is so important if you have ideas (which most people do) of how you want to live the last chapter of your life.

I want to give you something else to think about, something that is equally important. In our urgency to address the need for a Durable Medical Power of Attorney we often neglect to talk about a regular Power of Attorney.

Power of Attorney gives someone we have chosen who knows our wishes the authority to handle our business affairs when we can’t because of disease or mental issues. 

This person handles bills, bank accounts, taxes, medicare, credit cards, all the legal paperwork that is involved in everyday living. We give someone the legal authority to sign our name, to conduct, close out, and/or complete our business and estate affairs.

Unfortunately, it is human nature to avoid addressing these end of life issues. “Other people die, but not me! Tomorrow I will make my wishes known but not today.”  This kind of thinking leaves our loved ones making hard, heart wrenching decisions. These decisions are being made when their heart is screaming “No, not now.” Their rational thinking is distorted by those very emotions.

Don’t leave your people, who are grieving, the confusion and complications of setting your affairs. Do it before you need it done. Begin at 18 and change it as life develops. As you have new thoughts and different perspectives, change it. 

No matter your age, 18 and on, make your wishes known. Give someone else, other than the medical establishment, the power to help you live and die in the manner of your choosing. Give someone else, of your choosing, the power to handle your business, finances, day to day living affairs, as well as your medical decisions. A Power of Attorney for estate management and Durable Medical Power of Attorney are essential. You need both when you can no longer speak for yourself.

Something more about…Tomorrow I will make my wishes known but not today.

In my guidebook, By Your Side: A Guide for Caring for the Dying At Home, there is a section on end of life planning. If you or someone you know are caring for a special person with a life limiting illness, I suggest you have this guidebook to support the caregivers. 

And finally, here is a little poem from Emily Dickinson written on the back of an envelope that I wanted to share:

"In this short Life
That only lasts an hour
How much – how little – is
Within our power"

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This message is for my mom and my dad.
My mom had a stroke on August 14th
2022.She had infection leaking in her
body cavity from her infected
gallbladder which the doctors would not
remove. My mom died from the infection
from the infected leaky gall bladder in her body cavity on February 25th 2022 The gallbladder was leaking the infection into her body cavity because the tube coming out of her gallbladder had become dislodged for the second time. She passed while she and
my dad were watching a show on her
favorite Channel, the Hallmark Channel
I was not with my mom when she passed
and I promised mv dad that I would be
with him no matter what when he
passed. We moved my dad from the
Assisted Living he was at because they
were not going to allow me to spend the
night with my dad anymore. I was with him at the first Assisted Living because he had become very dependent on me being there 7 days a week and four to five nights a week. He and I were both very upset About this.He was only At the new Assisted of living for a few weeks when he went to The hospital With his second severe UTI. When he came back from the hospital he was bed bound and we were told that it was much more of an effort to move him from his bed to his wheelchair and back to his bed even after I bought straps to keep him his wheelchair. They wanted to charge
$500 more a month because he was bed
bound_accordina_to the new Assisted
the hospital after getting another severe
there for a few weeks when he went to
the hospital after getting another severe
BK Books replied:
Your family has certainly had health and caregiving challenges. Our custodial care system today needs a serious restructuring. Most of us cannot afford residential care. There is a huge void but I don’t see changes in the near future. Blessings to you and your family. Barbara

Meredith Graff

A Financial Power of Attorney, as well as an Advance Healthcare Directive are not just for end of life issues. What if one is in an accident and has head trauma, requiring the medical professionals to place the person in a medical coma to allow tg3 brain to heal? What if one becomes very ill (but will recover)? Whenever one is not able to manage one’s financial or medical affairs, either temporarily or permanently, these documents, properly prepared, witnessed and executed, are critical to ensure one’s responsibilities and wishes are carried out the way the affected person desires. Creditors are not too thrilled to hear their debtor is incapacitated and cannot pay their bills. Usually, swift legal judgments follow for the debts. Collection efforts begin. Can you imagine waking up after a period of time and finding out your assets have been seized and sold, including your residence and all your stuff? People have no idea how important these two documents are. No matter what age.
BK Books replied:
Meredith, such wise words. Thank you for sharing. Blessings! Barbara

Laurie Fox

Thank you for this earnest reminder, Barbara!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our high schools could incorporate these activities into their curriculum, so that when our young people graduate, they would have both a diploma and their end of life wishes documents to go out into the world with!

Some of us do better with deadlines. I think that, for me anyway, one of the reasons that this is hard to ”get around to” is that there’s no deadline by which it needs to be done. What if we made a ritual within our families to reconsider each person‘s final wishes as part of their birthday celebrations? Somehow, we need to change our societal image of this process, to make it more of a normal every day experience, rather than something that one only does when they get old and sick!

I have been thinking about suggesting that our church name a particular Sunday every year, maybe memorial day, on which we would have all the forms available, and make a communal activity of filling them out together

As an adjunct to that activity, we could also invite someone to come speak to us about, for instance, the beauty of hospice care and whatever local options we have available to us for having a green burial.

I received a copy of the wonderful Five Wishes booklet the first time I came to my doctors office, but then it was never mentioned again. What if the medical professionals who do our annual physical exam made asking for a copy of that completed document as a routine part of the annual exam? We would be reminded, when making that appointment, that we had a homework assignment: to fill out or revise that booklet and turn in a copy at our annual physical.

The DMV could have them available and have a box to check, saying whether or not you had filled one out and given copies to the appropriate people. Not that it would be a requirement of renewing your license – just that it’s something that happens regularly. And it might be kind of sobering to consider your final wishes as you renew your drivers license!

Cemeteries and funeral directors should definitely have them available, so that every time someone reserves a plot, they would receive one of these booklets. Hint, hint.

I guess I got a little bit carried away. Apparently I have many thoughts on this topic!

Thanks for always keeping these kinds of concerns in our consciousness. I really appreciate it.

Love and blessings,
BK Books replied:
Laurie, from your words to everyone who could make your ideas happen. I love them all. Thanks for sharing. PS: I used to do a high school class on what it is like to die. Your ideas would have had a natural space in the class. Blessings! Barbara

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