Monday, August 1, 2011

End of life conversations

While we all know that life is terminal, often it seems most all of us pretend that it isn't.  However, by not planning for death does nothing to postpone it, and actually can make the process considerably more difficult for the person dying and his/her loved ones.

A touching letter, "How to die with grace", appeared in the StarTribune about one man's experience in his end of life decision.  Dudley Clendinen wrote of being diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lu Gehrig's Disease, a hard hitting terminal illness. He observed that having a clearly defined terminal illness is helping him to live more fully in his final months.  You can also hear a series of interviews with Mr. Clendinen that were aired on Maryland Public Radio.

During a visit with my Grandmother, Gladys, who lived to be 102 years old, I noted how life was indeed terminal.  She quickly retorted, "Yes, but how long's our term?"  This we don't know, but why not plan for the inevitable?  Wouldn't you rather prefer to have input in your end of life decisions than someone you may not even know? I certainly don't advocate ending life prematurely, but recognize the value of honest discussion about this inevitability that will surely impact us all.

A website, Honoring Choices, provides a wealth of information and discussion starters on end of life decisions.  

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