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Conversations That Matter – Part III

Understanding that discussing end of life decisions is a very difficult topic, I am very grateful to those of you who have shared your experiences and feelings on this highly personal matter. In reviewing your responses, I have found that most people are confident of their final wishes but are more concerned about their loved ones not having the strength to carry them out.

Peggy,61, says,  “I don’t have a health care directive yet, but I have discussed my wishes with my husband and daughter. They are willing to see that my instructions are carried out regarding feeding tubes and DNR, up to the time of pulling the plug. Neither want to be responsible for this very final act. Until I can convince them I am unable to name anyone. I’d appreciate any guidance I can get on how to make this happen.”

Kayla, 42, realizes that no one knows  how they will feel at that crucial moment but vows to follow her mother’s instructions: “I am grateful for my mom’s straightforward approach to talking about her aging and death and she has been doing this with us for years in order to ensure that we are as prepared as we can be. Of course, I can’t say how I will feel when that day arrives but I will do my best to honor her wishes.”

I know that saying goodbye to a loved one is one of the hardest things you will ever encounter. In my own experience, my sister and I had to argue with a doctor not to keep treating my mother who was suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and recurrent bouts of pneumonia.  She had made it clear to us years before that she did not want to be kept alive with no quality of life since her mother had lingered for years decades before. We didn’t want to let her go, but we knew that it was what she wanted and that is was our responsibility to defend her decision.

None of us want to think about it, talk about it or go through it. But the reality is that we must, and by talking to each other and having the conversation that matters, over and over again if necessary, we can truly be there for those we love, in good times and in bad.

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Phone: 215-543-9339