Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Topics - Into Surreal Territory

One thing I would recommend to all healthy couples is that they have a discussion and write down what their wishes are for end of life issues and directions/wishes for after end of life with regard to burial, memorials, disposition of treasured articles etc. I'm not just talking about advance medical directives, durable powers of attorney in the event of incapacitation or wills. Those things are crucial and we had them done years ago and updated them regularly. So when Meagan was hospitalized not only did I have copies in our possession (and our attorney had the originals if needed) but I actually had him send me electronic files which I have on my iPhone. That proved pretty helpful when the nurses and docs asked me questions about things like "resuscitate or do not resuscitate". I was also much clearer on the things she had stipulated in advance and over which I had no decision making authority (do not feed, no artificial breathing support if comatose) versus those things I did once she was certified as being incapacitated. Fortunately I did not have to deal with any of those things and my hope is that I don't - that she will be competent and able to express her wishes to the very end, whenever that occurs.

But that does bring us to the things we have talked about that are out there, but feel so weird to talk about. What makes it weird is that for us, it could be much more imminent. So I would have liked to address these things while we were both healthy. Because addressing them now, as necessary as it is, makes it much more emotional, and for Meagan, that means an abundance of tears.

Some topics seem more ok than others, like how the end of days should look. That means for her: dignity, no pain, pretty, perfume, painted nails, friends and family, being out in our family room, not in an ICU or an isolated bedroom, flowers and watching her musicals. Others are a little more challenging - like burial or cremation, where, memorial, and disposition of treasured things. How to use her time, and prioritize it so everything gets done that she wants done, without it feeling rushed or signifying an imminent end become more emotional. Worrying about me and the boys, and how we will get by and move on and what that looks like generates lots of tears. But at least through all this - she does get to express her wishes and I know how she wants it done, and what influences she wants to have to the extent she is able from the great beyond.

But we have enough tough things to address on a daily basis - to add this all in - necessary as it is - definitely adds stress and emotion. We have gotten through most of it, so I can put it behind us now. But boy I wish we had done all this before.

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