In these strange and uncertain times, many of us have found ourselves confronting mortality in ways we never dreamed of. As we hear stories on the news and in real life of COVID-19 patients separated from loved ones during their last days, we are reminded of the importance of making our end-of-life wishes known to our loved ones and health care providers. This recent article by a doctor in a COVID-19 unit makes a very compelling case for discussing end-of-life care now.
In good times, end-of-life situations are often difficult to discuss. We would rather not face dying or having to say goodbye, so our inclination is to put off these conversations. In fact, according to the non-profit The Conversation Project, while 92% of Americans say it is important to discuss their wishes for end-of-life care, only 32% have had such a conversation. As a result, too many people die each year without having their end-of-life wishes expressed and respected.
Engaging in conversations about end-of-life wishes helps to normalize death as a part of life and can bring loved ones closer together. Equally important, having these conversations affords us an opportunity to set intentions for how we want to live our lives. And now, with the coronavirus crisis upon us, it is even more important for us to engage in these difficult conversations. While most of those who contract the coronavirus will recover, it is crucial for us to plan for the possibility that we may not.
Fortunately, there are some wonderful resources online to help us engage in these conversations, make our wishes known, and create an advance directive, a legal document that explains how we would like medical decisions made about us if we cannot make them ourselves. Exploring these resources will not only give us peace of mind but also potentially prevent our loved ones from experiencing conflict and regret surrounding our end-of-life care.
Perhaps a silver lining of this coronavirus crisis will be that it encourages us to take the time to have these meaningful and perhaps overdue conversations. Please don’t hesitate to be in touch if I can be of assistance as you consider, prepare for, or engage in these conversations
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