Death. It is a reality we all will experience.
But when a person faces a serious medical condition, we may be reluctant to speak the words “death” and “dying.”
Dr. Edward Bruera of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston says that one reason families don’t want to talk about death is the fear that doing so will destroy a patient’s hopes of surviving. (His thoughts were shared recently via the Houston Chronicle.)
Dr. Bruera suggests that we should think of end-of-life planning as “smart decision making.” When you buy a car, you purchase insurance. You wear a seat belt. You lock the car when you park it. You hope for the best. But if things don’t go well, you have prepared for the worst.
“When we normalize [talk about dying],” Bruera said, “and realize that we all need to make some preparations and plans, it lifts a weight from the shoulders of patients and families. Most of the time, patients find these conversations reassuring, and that’s gratifying to us.”
Have you spoken to your spouse, your children, your parents or other loved ones about end-of-life care? Do you want to die at home surrounded by loved ones? Would you prefer that medical teams do everything possible to keep you alive?
Have you selected an individual to speak for you and make end-of-life decisions for you if you are unable to make them? Have you made your end-of-life care wishes known through a living will?
This Thursday, April 16, is National Healthcare Decisions Day. It’s a day whose purpose is to encourage Americans to make their wishes known via advance directives (living wills and medical power of attorney designations).
Hope Hospice team members will be at two area Walgreen’s locations on Thursday, April 16, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to answer questions about advance directives and to share forms and other printed material with visitors. Those Walgreen’s locations are 13992 Manchester in west St. Louis county and at 519 South Truman Boulevard in Festus.