Friday, September 18, 2015

Let's Talk About Our Own End of Time

Written several months ago. I found this subject a little too challenging to include in the blog. Now, from a different perspective, I believe it's time to "talk about" this subject.

Perhaps I simply needed to be farther along the path of life after the two deaths, of husband and mother.

Perhaps I needed to feel more settled back in to a daily life that was more than survival and a level of concern for tomorrow I'd not experienced since I was very young.

Dying is personal. 
Death is a solo experience often shared.

What is dying?  When does it occur? When is life "not worth living" -- these were questions and choices on a recent family survey questionnaire three of our family members have received.

I admit, I left many questions blank. Why? Because I couldn't find within my self, within my knowledge bank, the "best" answer for who I am now and who I will be. And I had reason to be concerned because there were parts that were shared with family members, parts that might be "used" or "remembered" and what if, just WHAT IF, my feelings, my beliefs changed and no one paid attention to anything after this writing?

Daughter, one son and I agreed to participate in a family survey on communication about planning for "later life and death". 

It has another title; it comes with credentials of a highly respected educational institution. 

What it didn't come with was a warning label: "Caution, may be hazardous to parental health and family relationships."

Glad daughter and I have such great open and ongoing communication. We could talk in depth and at great length; something I'm still not able to do with my son although we have had a few more "in depth" conversations as time passes.

Interesting to see that even though son and I and daughter all went through two recent deaths in family, husband/father and mother/grandmother, there are questions on son's part about what I "want to do" about various parts of living/dying.

All we went through together and he says he hasn't a clue about what I want for myself.  Even daughter, who's been by my side constantly says she's also not sure especially since seeing my comments on the survey.

That's interesting and from my point of view, perfectly understandable.

Life isn't black or white and surveys that only allow for specific answers don't provide enough information to those who will be making decisions on behalf of the person needing those decisions made.

For that matter, however, I see these "questions" as important for all ages of life as we never know what accident can happen, what major illness might be in our future or we might even be living with that's dormant or not discovered but won't take us into those "Golden Years".


It's not a subject we willingly approach or that anyone "wants" to talk about.

Some organizations have published books or provided guidance on websites but there's still that challenge to get past the normal human condition of not wanting to talk about a subject, like death, because in our society, death is still one of those "forbidden" topics. 

We talk more about taxes and various sexual practices than we do about end of life decisions and choices.

I think one of the most challenging parts of this discussion is where we are currently in life, what our personal experiences have been and what our "family customs" are regarding initiating conversations or planning.

It simply hasn't been that long since we were "closeted" in our discussions on sex and even on the natural changes our bodies go through as we mature as young men and women.

Death may be the final frontier.  It's the most uncertain. The most complex. After all, we're still legally defining and redefining when death actually occurs and States vary in their actual medical determination of when death occurs -- ceasing of heart activity, brain activity, etc.

Perhaps if we begin to examine choices in life and care?  

That's talking about when we will be dependent --semi to totally. That's challenging because we are placed in positions when we have to "entrust" to others something we've given up along the way of becoming Adults -- control over our lives, over our daily lives and our bodies.

Perhaps if we are given life choices that are more individually centered, more positive and supportive and less shelving, less demeaning, less negating -- as is found in many Long Term Care Facilities and even among families, unfortunately.

Let's begin a conversation. 

That's how we started as a society to be more "open" and accepting. 

Let's begin to listen. 

Opening our minds and our hearts to accept what the person feels comfortable talking about, planning and finding ways to ensure changes are accommodated so that nothing is written in stone, it's written in love.

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