Think about it. We are always planning. We plan our day. Work. Errands. Lunch. Dinner. We plan our vacation. Destination. Method of travel. Rentals. Activities. But we seldom plan how we’re going to face the end of life. Yet it is just as important, if not more so. Advanced planning can save money, stress and family discord. Think about this for a minute. Can leaving this life be as uplifting and meaningful as the opposite event – a birth or beginning life? Why not? The potential is certainly there. We spend nine months and hours of thought getting ready for the arrival of a new life into the family. What if we did the same for the end of life?
Granted, wills and advance directives aside, often times there is not the luxury of months of planning. That is exactly why you should give some thought to this now. Dr. Susan Block of the Dana Farber Institute has simplified the process with four simple questions to help start the conversation when you or your loved one is nearing the end of life.
Here they are.
- Do you understand your prognosis?
- What are your fears about what is to come?
- What are your goals as time runs out?
- What tradeoffs are you willing to make?
We all have moments where the thought crosses our mind, what if I have to face the end sooner rather than later? But what if we didn’t do the Scarlet O’Hara and put it off until tomorrow, but purposely answered these questions, on a regular basis? In fact we do. Look closely, and you’ll see they’re also about the process of recognizing hopes and fears in our everyday life. Think about the decisions and difficult choices we face on a daily basis, some days more than others, of course. With each one we ask ourselves, what is happening here? That’s just the first step of problem solving. What scares us about making this decision? Again, we’re just looking at possible outcomes and ramifications of our choices. What do we ultimately want to accomplish? We always have an objective to accomplish, even if it’s as simple as choosing an alternate route home. Finally, what are we willing to do or sacrifice to make it happen? This route has a toll and that route doesn’t, but it’s longer. So you see, you are familiar with these questions already, just in a different context.
Since we will all be faced with the end-of-life someday, here’s a suggestion. Perhaps today we could make ourselves a promise that for the sake of spouses, partners, family, friends and loved ones, we will make an effort to understand what can truly happen to us, to acknowledge our fears, to plan what we want to do with whatever time we have and to know what tradeoffs we are willing to make.
If you’ve been through this situation and received helpful advice, share it in the comments below. At Freedom Insurance we want to help. We would love to hear from you!