Writing the Final Chapter
One of the great truths of life is that we will all die at some point, but it’s hardly ever a topic of discussion around the water cooler or kitchen table. So the question isn’t if we are going to pass and walk through heavens pearly gates or be reincarnated as a dung beetle. The question is, when we do, what does life look like towards the end? Are we lying peacefully in our bed at home with comfort measures in place or are we hooked up to a ventilator at a hospital? Did we spend the last six months in a nursing home amongst strangers or are we drag racing down a strip somewhere crossing things off our bucket lists?
Of course there is no wrong answer. How you want to go is an intimate part of your life experience. But we have to remember a couple things. First, it’s crazy important to give it some thought while we can. Secondly, we have to make sure our families are one hundred percent clear on our wishes. There is nothing worse than the long lost cousin who comes into town and now knows best on how things should be for us in the end. Or even worse, your closest kin not knowing what you want if you can’t speak for yourself.
Let's consider the case of Terri Schiavo that made national headlines in the 1990s. Terri was a young woman who was in a persistent vegetative state and unable to speak for herself. It brought forth a big discussion on right-to-die vs right-to-live. There were opposing views from different sides of her family and it was dragged on for years in the Florida court system. It definitely, brought pause for those of us that were old enough to witness it.
What do you want your end of life to look like? If you haven’t considered putting in place a living will or getting a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, now may be a good time. But just as importantly, your family, friends and loved ones should know that you have a plan and should know exactly what you want. Otherwise, you could be envisioning a small intimate destination ceremony at the top of a Hawaiian volcano to celebrate your exit and instead get a burial plot next to the ex you wished you never met. Now you’re stuck with them for eternity.
Planning your exit or your last years doesn’t have to be morbid or taboo. Sure there are some standard things to get out of the way like your will, but giving it the same importance as planning for today may be a great gift to your future self and to the ones who are there to help you gracefully and joyfully age. Whether it's under the Florida sun or the Washington snow there is no wrong answer, but make sure you and your loved ones know it.