More often than not a family member or friend will shy away from talking to you about terminal illness and death. Most times you will have to initiate the conversation to express your wishes. End-of-life issues are difficult for many people. Here are a few ways you may be able to approach the subject:
- A death of a family member, friend or neighbor has opened my eyes to the need to have a plan for the future.
- A recent illness has brought about concerns on how we should handle future illnesses or disabilities.
Some people find it helpful to write down their values, personal concerns, spiritual beliefs and their own vision of what they would like done in the event of a debilitating illness or their death. For many, it’s much easier to talk about their views with loved ones. Here some tips to think about:
- What do you love most about living? (If I get sick I want to be cared for by my family or I prefer to stay at home for as long as it’s possible)
- Tell people about your religious or spiritual beliefs. (“I have attended St. Stevens every Sunday for 40 years and I want my funeral services there.” Or: “I was never much for church but I am a veteran and would love a military or honor guard at my passing.”)
- Tell family and friends how you feel about death and dying.
Sharing your end-of-life care decisions does two very important things:
- It ensures that people know what you would like to happen.
- It relieves the stress family and friends have when they are guessing as to what you really want.
You can always change your mind and your plans. We at Hospice see it every day, families in crisis because they don’t know what their loved ones wanted in the way of care and ceremony. We can help. For more information about Advance Directives go to the Planning Ahead section of our web site or talk to us at 315-634-1100.