Friday, January 11, 2013

Why Is It So Hard?

 I want to talk about something really important, something that doesn't happen nearly as much as it needs to, something that many people find really, really hard.  I'm talking about...talking, more specifically, talking about end-of-life events and decisions.

Statistics tell us that 60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is “extremely important”, however, 56% have not communicated their end-of-life wishes to their family.  Do you see the disconnect here?  Families across the country have no idea what their loved ones want in relation to some of the most important decisions out there! 

What could be more important than your wishes about health care and whether you want serious intervention in the case of an illness or injury?  Is there anything more important then how you want to die, and what you want done after your death?  I know these seem like difficult conversations to have, but are they really?  Or should we just buckle down, remove the emotional stigma, deal with our fears...and talk?  Talk about what really matters.

I have heard so many stories from families who are facing the huge burden of making healthcare decisions for a loved one without truly knowing what that person would want.  I hear about arguments and stress between family members trying to decide what to do with the body of a loved one, what kind of funeral or memorial they would have wanted, and what to do with personal effects.  The last thing we should be doing while dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, is stressing out about feeding tubes and funerals.

My father and I didn't have an official talk about his medical wishes, so I have had to extrapolate what he would have wanted from how he lived his life and his religious beliefs.  We did manage to have a surprising but pleasant talk about death and what we each wanted done with our bodies after our deaths, so at least I have that covered.  I think he would want a memorial that was for us and our comfort, not really about him, but, then again, I don't know for certain.  There are many conversations I wish we'd had when we had the chance.

There is a growing movement urging families to have these discussions.  I've included one link to a new site and project that looked straightforward and promising, but there are many others.   
  A little research on the web should yield a lot of good information.  Wherever you go, whatever approach you decide on, the time has come to do what you fear.  The time has come to talk.

It's not too late to vote!  Vote once a day until February 15th.

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