One of the greatest gifts my mom gave me in this lifetime was having her advance directives in order long before Alzheimer’s was so much as a blip on our radar. I remember when she had them done. At that point, I thought, “Okay, that’s done, but I really don’t want to think about. Furthermore, it’ll be forever until I HAVE to think about it.”
And life goes on….
Then one day, in a complete twist of what you believed to be fate, life changes drastically and forever.
Even with the documents in place and my mom’s wishes crystal clear, the end was agonizing. No one can prepare you for those final days and the sense of helplessness you’ll feel. However, I can’t begin to imagine how exponentially more difficult it would have been if the medical team had been looking to me to make those decisions no one ever wants to be faced with.
Please take a few moments to read this important, thought-provoking piece by my friend, author Elaine Mansfield.
Why I Added Detailed
Advance Directives to my Living Will
Elaine’s article has me rethinking my own Living Will and considering adding more detail as she and her husband, Vic, did. This specificity leaves no room for interpretation, and the fact that it’s handwritten also adds a certain level of comfort. It’s one thing to see a typewritten document initialed and signed by your loved one, but seeing these details written in their own hand – I think it might help the mind and heart to reconcile, finding a place of certainty and peace.
If nothing else, I hope this article will encourage you to give some thought to advance directives – particularly if you don’t have anything in place. Don’t leave these decisions to your loved ones; when the time comes, they will be struggling enough without having this additional weight on their shoulders.
Elaine Mansfield’s book, Leaning into Love: A Spiritual Journey through Grief will be on shelves in October. It’s one you’ll definitely want to add to your reading list. You can find Elaine on Facebook and Twitter, and of course, you can visit her blog to experience more of her beautiful writing.
Thanks, Ann. I love what you added in your reflections and so appreciate having a link to my post at your excellent site. Since my advanced directives were done ten years ago, I will revisit them with my doctor (same doctor who helped us make them in the first place). A comment on my blog says: “It’s my understanding… that POLST and MOLST are more binding than living wills, in states that have these in place. For more information, see: http://www.polst.org/ For NYS, see: https://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/patients/patient_rights/molst/.” I have some homework to do.
Finally, thanks for mentioning my book.
With gratitude, Elaine
Ann Napoletan said:
I’ve heard a bit about POLST and MOLST, but that’s something I need to look into as well. I’m very happy to share your important post. You and I both know firsthand how important it is to have advance directives in place; unfortunately, there are many people who learn the hard way. Maybe we can prevent that heartache for a few folks. Much love to you… Anxiously awaiting your book, Ann
I wish more people did this – it would be such a balm for those who later down the line who are forced to make those tough decisions….
Thanks Ann for getting the message out there.
Ann Napoletan said:
Thanks for the comment, DG.
DG, it was challenging to write this. I’ve learned that many people want and need to know what they can do.. Wishing you well.