Rethinking End of Life Care

End of life.  While we all know that it’s coming—someday—it is something we tend to ignore, until the moment it gets right up in our face and we can deny it no longer.

Snubbing death has become a real challenge in the midst of the pandemic.

I learned to deny death early on in life.  Because of that, there is still within me the lasting impact of unresolved childhood grief.  The death of my father, with all its surrounding circumstances, probably had the greatest formative impact on who I grew up to be. 

“Daddy went away, never to return home. No last phone call. No last touch.”

An Unremarkable and Imperfect Grandma (Life Stories and Life Lessons) p. 95

So as a young adult I made a purposeful change to be candid and straightforward.  This is the person I became; it does not always serve me well. 

I am now in my seventh decade and find myself confronted by loss with increasing frequency.   The thought of losing those who I love without the opportunity to see them again or even to say goodbye has intensified from fear to terror due to the coronavirus. 

I encourage all of you to rethink your attitudes about end-of-life care and death before you find yourself in the situation where there is no going back. 

11 Inspiring Quotes to Help You Rethink End of Life Care by Easy Living, August 31, 2020

This excerpt refers to quote NINE below:
Because the extent of his illness had been kept from him, so many other opportunities were lost. I am quite sure there was much more that he would have liked to say to help guide me into adult life. As it was, he didn’t even have the chance to say, “Goodbye.”

An Unremarkable and Imperfect Grandma (Life Stories and Life Lessons) p. 111

  • ONE:  At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent—Barbara Bush
    No matter what your life stage there is benefit from thinking with an end-of-life mindset.
  • TWO:  In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years—Abraham Lincoln
    “Quality of life” is vital to end of life care.
  • THREE:  It’s not what you have at the end of life, it’s what you leave behind that matters—Stedman Graham
    What legacy will you leave behind?  How will you be remembered?  What values did you impart?  What impact did you have on others?
  • FOUR:  Our worst fear isn’t the end of life but the end of memories—Tom Rachman
    How will we be remembered?  Make memories loved ones will cherish.
  • FIVE:  I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end—Gilda Radner
    Life does not always go the way we want.  Unpredictability is both the struggle and the beauty.
  • SIX:  In the beginning of life, when we are infants, we need others to survive.  And at the end of life, we need others to survive.  But here’s the secret, in between, we need others as well—Morrie Schwartz
    We neglect to consider all the ways we need others throughout life and all the ways we are needed, even as we near the end of life.
  • SEVEN:  Culturally, now, we’re really tight around death, and as a result I think people miss out on a lot of the beautiful aspects of the end of life process that can be very helpful for the grieving process, that can be a really beautiful part of transition of life that we don’t get to experience because it’s not in the conversation—Chrysta Bell
    When we avoid talking about end of life, we deny ourselves the opportunity to be involved in our end of life care. Confront what is happening.  Talking about your feelings and making your preferences known benefits both you and those around you.
  • EIGHT:  Have a conversation with your family about your end-of-life wishes while you are healthy. No one wants to have that discussion… but if you do, you’ll be giving your loved ones a tremendous gift, since they won’t have to guess what your wishes would have been, and it takes the onus of responsibility off of them—Jodi Picoult
    Or: “End of life decisions should not be made at the end of life.” Give your family the gift by planning ahead and sharing your wishes for end of life care.  If you wait until the crisis is upon you, it may be too late for you to express your wishes.
  • NINE:  Having the choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty, and pain—Brittany Maynard
    Choice is vital in end of life care. A sense of choice through advance care planning helps reduce fear and uncertainty and gives peace.
  • TEN: You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die—Cicely Saunders
    In trying to deny or hide from death, too many miss out on the palliative care available for better living during the process of dying.
  • ELEVEN:  The end of life deserves as much beauty, care, and respect as the beginning—Anonymous
    In summary of end of life care.

This excerpt refers to Quote TEN above.
A hospice group supplied my mother-in-law with a transport chair so I could get her out of the house to go to the senior center, and with travel oxygen so she could go to the beach with her daughter. In other words, although hospice eases the process of dying, it also facilitates and encourages the process of living. 

What to Do about Mama? p. 171



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