From personal experience I know that dying, death and bereavement is a natural part of life . I understand that it is not something that people want to discuss or hear but you owe it to those you care about to discuss your wishes and to adequately plan for them. A persons wishes regarding end of life care, insurance, superannuation and the distribution of their estate impacts everyone in their life , at any age, the living, the dying and the grieving.
In research undertaken in several countries roughly 90%of respondents want to discuss their end of life plans but only 30% have actually done so.
Interestingly in a study of those who have completed Advance care directives in Australia 10% are near death; 30% are chronically ill; and 60% are well. The issue with 40% of these being completed when a person is seriously unwell is that it places enormous pressure on them let alone their loved ones; they may no longer have the capacity to make their own care decisions; similarly their loved ones, who have little or no idea what they want, may find it difficult to think clearly in a health crisis.
This is why it is important to discuss your wishes and make plans for your future while you are well. Conversations with your loved ones about what you wish gives you an opportunity to define your expectations for the care you want to receive at the end of your life.
You should select an appropriate time to discuss your plans; Determine who you want to discuss your future plans with; in a location where you and your loved ones are comfortable. Importantly make a list of the topics that are most important for you to discuss – and if it makes it easier practice having the conversation beforehand.
Death is a deeply personal human experience and evokes different reactions, emotions, and perceptions from individuals, their families, and communities – therefore your plans will change over your life time; these discussions should be ongoing as your values, preferences and priorities evolve due to changing circumstances, meaning these conversations must be regularly reviewed, revisited and revised. Discuss your wishes and document them as early as possible, so that your loved ones are aware of your choices.
An end of life discussion shouldn’t be a response to a certain illness or condition; or confined to a particular group or section of the community. Eventually, everyone dies. This was encapsulated in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Trip when Death said
“You might be a king or a little street sweeper, but sooner or later you dance with the reaper.”
Dying is a universal experience. So we owe it to those around us to share our wishes for end of life care, providing for loved ones who grieve our loss, and how our estate will be distributed.