How can people plan ahead for their own death, if nobody shows them how? Woody Allen said, “Nobody gets out of here alive.” It’s true but, just as saying the word sex doesn’t make you pregnant, neither does talking about death or dying cause your life to end.
If you’re between the ages of thirty (30) and seventy (70), you fall into the “Sandwich Generation”* —a clever way to describe parents who, while raising their own families, of necessity become caregivers for elderly relatives.* It’s important for both of you, to start a family discussion and explain your end-of-life preferences, before you hit a crisis. You don’t want to be saying, “I wish we would have had this conversation when ____ was so alive and healthy.”
Many people don’t want to talk about dying, and are content to live in denial. My website and upcoming book, Your Exit Strategy, Helping Families Plan Your Final Days will offer a proactive approach, showing the progression of steps to take now. It will become your personal road map, everyone will be on the same page, and you’ll be relieved that when the time comes, you’ll be allowed to exit this world as you planned. You set the stage as a great role model, by not forcing someone else to make your decisions. This final act of love is a wonderful legacy that your family will never forget.
To get a taste of what I’m talking about, check out Monica Williams-Murphy, MD Emergency Physician’s post December 12, 2012 “When knowing changes everything: the value of mapping end-of-life pathways” http://oktodie.com/blog
”When you set out on an unfamiliar journey, you will need a map to get to your desired destination.
You may pass landmarks, but not know exactly where you are unless you are able
to identify these landmarks on your map. The same is true for the journey of life,
and specifically, the path at the end of life.”
[Reprinted with permission.]
An example of this would be a recent conversation with a new widow: “I wasn’t prepared for the finality of his death. My husband took care of everything. I didn’t know what to do: we had no money. The next week I found a job as a secretary. Eight months later I got lost going to work or coming home…it was my brain reacting to never having had the time to grieve the loss of my husband.”
I’m trying to understand why people don’t want to talk about this subject. Do you know? Is it the complexity of death that’s so scary, or the actual dying? As a Christian, I have my own beliefs about what will happen to my soul and spirit when I finally cast off my earthly body, like a cicada leaves behind a translucent, empty shell. My peace comes from Scripture, with the most succinct promise found in John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, will not perish, but have everlasting life.
I’ll be creating links to other groups that are working to open a dialogue about death. I welcome your feedback; please tell me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if I’ve missed something you think is important. Thanks in advance for your time, and look forward to hearing from you.
*Carol Abaya’s fabulous www.sandwichgeneration.com