We just got the news that Patrick’s Mom’s best friend died last night. She pretty much helped to raise Patrick and his siblings and is like an aunt to them. In fact, when Patrick was a kid, she was the one that figured out that he was allergic to some sort of constituent in chocolate that made him go ape-wild (his grandfather would say, “that boy needs a whooping.” He was that bad). She also gave us all kinds of lovely encouragement and masses of cutlery just before our wedding. Other awesome random fact, she had a pet parrot… A real parrot.
She was quite lovely and encouraging and all-around entertaining. She will be missed.
The whole thing got me thinking about two things.
The first thing is the dreadful thought of having one of my best friends die. I can’t even imagine how much it hurts knowing that you can’t just call or text or walk across the driveway to chat for a bit. I know time heals all, and there is hope you will see them again in heaven. But still, the hurt. It kills me to have some of my closest friends live so far away. But, at least I know I will see them in x number of months or we can text or whatever.
The second thing is the importance of discussing your end-of-life wishes with your family.
This woman was very wise… And she was able to say what she wanted and knew her wishes, even if they weren’t what others always necessarily agreed with for her funeral and such. I respect her very much for that.
The best part, though, is that when she died (at home and somewhat unexpectedly), when the ambulance attendants arrived and asked her husband if he wanted them to attempt resuscitation, he apparently shouted out, “No, she would kill me!”
It is sad that she died. But, I am so glad that she had voiced her perspectives on resuscitation. And that her husband was aware of it. And not afraid to say what she wanted.
It is a good reminder to everyone that things can happen and that you need to talk with your loved ones about your wishes for resuscitation and such. And be specific. Because you just never know.
There are entire websites dedicated to the design of written living wills and appropriate discussions to have with substitute decision makers. You are never too young or old to make the decisions and be informed about choices regarding resuscitation and feeding. The decisions are dynamic and can change with conditions and circumstances, so it is good to be specific and review them as circumstances change.
Canadian Virtual Hospice has some good information about advance care directives and health care directives here. Also the CBC In Depth discusses the issue here. Some of this information is for legally binding documents to be signed by lawyers or physicians, but in Canada, living wills are not actually legal terms, but because they state your previous wishes, they are generally held as guiding principles for treatment. Health Directives are the more technical legal document.
As a health care worker, I have seen instances where families have known what to choose based on prior discussions. Those circumstances are difficult, but easier on the family than when they are guessing at what people wanted and worrying about going against beliefs. So, again, I say please talk about it… Even though it is uncomfortable.
Prayers for the family and extended family would be appreciated at this time!