Monday, November 21, 2016

Defining your wishes for your family: A gift of love

Depriving Death of Its Strangeness: Making Wishes Known

In the above video my husband David discusses how he wants to die. He developed an easy to remember acronym for what was important to him. Using the word HOPE he helped us understand that he wanted to die at HOME, surrounded by OTHERS, PAIN free, and EXCITED until the end. With these statements I understood his priorities.

As his surrogate decision maker I knew that he wanted above any other place to die at home. As his condition declined and his safety became an issue I was able to remind him that this choice meant he needed to listen carefully and comply with our safety precautions so he did not fall and break a hip and end up unable to be taken care of at home. His resistance to using his walker diminished as he understood his own goals were at stake if he took unnecessary challenges.

During his final hours I used his desire to be surrounded by others to initiate a "party" the night before he died. Our closest friends and family were able to be present and say their goodbyes and share stories with all of us. Even though he was unable to communicate, we knew he was enjoying having us all surrounding him, laughing and remembering, telling him we loved him.

His desire to be pain free, even if it meant sedation was very helpful as I administered narcotics very frequently during his final hours. He had been very clear with me that he wanted as little pain as possible, even if it meant he would be unable to communicate. As a result I never feared the narcotic dose I was advised to administer, and I feel good knowing his wish was honored.

Finally, his desire to be excited until the end kept our entire family involved in keeping him motivated and engaged in our lives for as long as possible. He lost consciousness 24 hours before he died but until this time he was laughing, teasing, playing games and interacting with us, even if only for short times. Those final memories are special for all of us and I know he was making the most of every moment he could for as long as possible.

Completing a document with your wishes is important and can be helpful. However, the most important part of this process is talking to your family about exactly what the means. What is quality of life for you? How much pain are you willing to be in for the sake of being able to communicate? Who do you want to surround you as you die? Where do you want to die? These are discussions that all families should have with one another, and certainly questions that surrogate decision makers need to have the answers for!

Take time this holiday as you gather together to discuss together your wishes!

No comments:

Post a Comment