Watching my grandfather take his last breath was heart wrenching. Yet somehow, there was far less grief knowing we were honoring his wishes.
We were lucky that we knew his wishes.
My granddad, BD, had had a stroke and thankfully by the time he was discovered by a neighbor, he was still lucid (despite having been on the floor for at least 48 hours). He was aware enough to communicate his wishes to my mother. He told her that he did not want to live in his current state. He had become paralyzed and was left immobile.
My grandfather served in “the war,” lied about his age at 17 to board ship and travel the world as a sailor, and was a health fanatic. He did 100 pushups, sit-ups, and other floor exercises every day. He held the Dallas Turkey Trot record for his age group (60-70 year olds) for over 2 decades. He rode a stationary bike or walked 3 miles every day. Every. Day.
So, it was more than clear to us, his family, that being immobile was devastating to him. That was not how he would want to live life.
I cannot fathom the agony families endure when they don’t know what their loved ones want. And maybe, their loved one doesn’t even know themselves? It is not part of our makeup to sit and think about how we want our death to be.
That is why I want to gently (or not so gently), nudge you to have the conversation. And dare I repeat it, regardless of your age! This is a gift beyond measure that we can give to our loved ones – the peace of knowing they’re following our wishes.
For 2017, National Healthcare Decisions Day is an entire week. It’s that important. The “day” is designed to help people understand the value of advance healthcare planning.
Those are big words and the task can seem even bigger. In simple terms, “advance healthcare planning” means documenting what you want should you become unable to make health decisions for yourself, selecting the person to make those decisions for you and then, telling that person.
I have devoted an entire chapter to Advance Healthcare Planning in Missing Pieces Plan. The book also includes a worksheet to walk you through the decisions you’ll need to make.
So, with a loving nudge, I encourage you to visit the National Healthcare Decisions Day website at http://www.nhdd.org. They’ve also created an inspiring video: https://vimeo.com/36052824. Then, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about what your wishes might be.
If you’d like the Missing Pieces Plan worksheet as guide, order yours here: http://missingpiecesplan.com/amazon