I can't stress strongly enough how important it is to make your wishes known regarding end-of-life directives. When my mother was dying of lung cancer, I was blessed in that I worked at a Long-Term Care facility as a geriatric nursing-assistant. The Social Worker on my floor was kind enough to provide me with a 'Five Wishes' document. I took it to my mom, and she and I discussed the fact that she wanted to die at home, that she wanted to be assured of pain management, that she wanted no 'extraordinary measures' taken, even the music she wanted played at her funeral. This led to other discussions (of personal and family issues) that may not have taken place otherwise. It brought her a great measure of peace in her final days, a sense of control and empowerment that most people are, unfortunately, denied during a terminal illness. It also offered the added blessing of relieving the family of most of the stress and guilt of trying to determine 'what Mom would want'. After Mom's passing, I ordered a case of The Five Wishes documents, and gave them to all of my family members. The rest were donated to the Senior Group at my church. I watched so many patients suffer needlessly while their families argued and fretted over their treatment plan, and I NEVER want my family (or myself!) in that position. My daughter will never have to wrestle with the decisions of my medical care or funeral wishes, and for that I am profoundly grateful.
-Patricia Ann Reinsfelder, 1/6/2009