There has been a push in recent years for adults 18 and over to create an advance directive to tell their loved ones what type of care they would like to receive at the end of life. This advance planning is especially important for those who want to avoid unwanted and costly care when they reach their final days.
Guest Blog: Tarron Estes, Founder of the Conscious Dying Institute
When I look back on how I came to teach “Sacred Passage: End of Life Doula” education, I see a beautiful pattern of connections and relationships, events and places. All playing unique roles. All touching. All connected – A long steady stream of connections from early childhood to now creating a beautiful life design.
If you have been caring for a loved one with life-limiting illness who has chosen or been advised to stop treatment for that illness you may be considering hospice care as an alternative. Hospice provides physical, emotional and spiritual support for the patient and for family members as well and can help you through this challenging time.
The first time I visited our hospice patient Ben, a 68-year-old man with cancer, I noticed that he was reluctant to talk to me about his physical symptoms. He denied having any pain even though his tense facial muscles and elevated heart rate suggested that he was experiencing a significant amount of discomfort. Ben was polite toward me but would answer my questions with only a few words.
When my mother was diagnosed with biliary cancer at the age of 89 it was relatively easy to choose our next steps because I had worked as a hospice physician for many years and understood the options that were available to her. In addition I had already held many conversations with her over a period of five years about what type of care she wanted to receive at the end of life so we were well prepared for the situation that faced us.
A couple years after my mom died, I had a very vivid dream where she descended from the sky in a hot air balloon. I ran to the basket and she said, “Katie, know that when you see a hot air balloon, I am with you.”
Two topics often overlooked in estate planning are beneficiaries and belongings. Beneficiary designations are separate contracts and are not subject to the terms of your Will. Continue reading “Planning to Die: A 5-part guide to understanding the values of wills / Part 4 Beneficiaries & Belongings”
My lawyer/friend Julia recommends that people think about estate planning holistically and consider ensuring that they have a Will, Living Will, and Powers of Attorney. Most of her clients end up including all of them when going through the process, but if someone simply wants one of the documents I outlined in Part I, she will happily work with them, too. She also thinks it’s important for everyone, regardless of age, assets and health status to do a Will.
My dad designed an Advance Directive form thirty years ago for his patients. It is one page. It states things like, “If I have a terminal condition, in general, I would or would not want these things done” (for example, dialysis, feeding tube, cardio pulmonary resuscitation, antibiotics). In the state of Nebraska, where he resides, the page does not need to be notarized, it just requires a witness. He then asks his patients to discuss with their loved ones and send him a copy, and he saves it on file.
For every other 30-something year-old I know, the hypothetical scenarios of getting your affairs in order are just that. Very hypothetical. But whatever age you are, even if it is just hypothetical, nothing makes having the conversation about death with loved ones easy. For me, it’s very real. I am, after all, living with a rare form of stage 4 cancer.