If you live near Rutland, Vermont, you may have seen my last post in the Rutland Herald, our local newspaper. The post regarding the death of Mr. Nielsen was published as a Letter to the Editor entitled, “A blessing in disguise”. That title was NOT my idea. It is not for me to say when a life event is a blessing….or not.
The letter did cause some readers to feel that I was advocating a “death panel” approach to the end of life for frail elders. Well, I don’t do that either. I adhere to the belief that here in America we are free to make these decisions for ourselves. But those decisions don’t become ours until we claim them by writing them down AND speaking about them to our loved ones. Each of us is responsible for addressing this piece of life’s important business.
One responder (Thanks, Ray M) understood that I do advocate planning for death in advance of losing the ability to do so. And for most of us that is hard … maybe impossible. Just be sure that if you do not do that planning BEFORE you lose the ability to do so…someone else will need to make those decisions for you. Maybe a physician who never saw you before or a family member who has no idea of your wishes and so must take full responsibility for your death and/or the quality of your life that remains. This scenario has the potential to bring long lasting guilt to loved ones who were ill prepared for the role of deciding your fate. And so the daunting task of talking with our loved ones about our own definition of a “good death” can be a courageous and loving gift to those who will carry forever that part of our legacy that is our death.
Courage My Love
***For those who fear that death panels are in our future….my next post will be; “America’s death panels of yesteryear” or, as they were known then….the “God Committees”.
Good story…stay tuned.