This year I will turn 30. I am a married woman. I have been with my husband for 10 years now and we have had our share of ups and downs during this journey that is our life. We have not conceived any children and it is not certain to be that God has that as a part of my journey.
Journey is the best way to explain the powerful situation called Life.
When looking back on my journey thus far I can see that I have a purpose. I have not always known what it was but my every action was thought out with purpose. At a very young age I was asked “Why do people keep trying the same thing expecting a different result?” Why indeed. If I had a slogan it would be just that.Trying the same thing expecting a different result; the definition of crazy. Living my life this way I looked at all social interactions very different that any peer my age. At 16, I wrote out my own Advanced Directives and so much more. I wrote out my “Conversation”. I told of how I wanted my survivors to morn/grieve, the dress I was to be buried in, what songs would play at my funeral service and who was to be invited. I talk about what I wanted the last months and days of my life to play out.
I shared my wishes with my family and encouraged them to do the same. They quickly wanted me silenced because in our culture in the United States of America we do not talk about death. People stop pregnant mothers on the sidewalk asking if they know the sex, who their Doctor is, and what name they have chosen. We even gather in churches across this nation every Sunday discussing the afterlife. May I ask why is it that we cannot discuss our thoughts about death and wishes for how we want it to play out? Not a single person’s life is timeless. We will all face death. Approximately 70% of Americans will know what will kill them before they die. Why is it that nearly 50% of us die in a hospital & 70% die in a nursing home, LTC, or Acute hospital setting when 70% of Americans say they would prefer to die in the comfort of their own home? Can you believe that only 25% of Americans actually get to?
I have worked in varying fields until I landed on my calling, my purpose for life. I am working as a community educator for one of the first Hospice companies in the US. I joined the mission that started only 35 years ago by volunteers to help my community live life to the best of their ability, fully until the moment of their passing. See I watched my Grandmother pass away after suffering years with COPD. Our family all knew how she would die but we never had the conversation with her to see how she wanted to live out those last few days until the moment she died.
I do not wish to suffer through my last moments on this earth. I understand that much of the treatments offered to patients who have life-threatening illnesses are ultimately futile. Worse than the ineffectiveness of the treatments is that they often bring with them months of grueling procedures that at best may possibly extend the length of life, but do nothing for its quality.
I at the age of 16 not knowing the correct verbiage started the conversation about my wishes to have my life be lived out to the fullest until the moment I release my last breath having fulfilled my purpose. Often it is said I am an old sole. I like to think that I am. I may fall into that 70% of Americans who know how they will die or I may not. I may be involved in a tragic accident that could leave my loved once fear filled and emotion charged to make critical decisions about my life. I will not burden them with guessing what I would have wanted. My family knows. I just wish they would join in the conversation because it maybe me standing outside their hospital room making one of the most critical decisions of their life never knowing their true wishes. I could be left with having to live the remainder of my life with the guilt of the decision I made. Do this act of kindness for your loved ones. Start the conversation. Change the cycle. Remove the crazy that darkens the last moments so many continue to experience on this earth.