Can you and your loved ones answer these questions?
1. On a scale of 1 to 5, where do you fall on this continuum: 1 = Let me die without medical intervention; 5 = Don’t give up on me no matter what, try any proven and unproven intervention possible.
2. If there were a choice, would you prefer to die at home, or in a hospital?
3. Could a loved one correctly describe how you’d like to be treated in the case of a terminal illness?
4. Is there someone you trust whom you’ve appointed to advocate on your behalf when the time is near?
5. Have you completed any of the following: written a living will, appointed a health care power of attorney, or completed an advance directive?
This Thanksgiving holiday, consider printing out this one slide and leaving it on a table or countertop where your loved ones will see it. If they want to engage with the questions, be ready for a meaningful conversation about the end of life.
I used these questions as an intimacy hack, a way to jump up a few levels in my relationship with my elder cousin, M., when he asked me to be his caregiver and health care proxy. We needed to transform ourselves from fond friends to trusted partners. I needed to know what he wanted so I could fight for it, at the end.
Happily, he was in good health when we had that first conversation. We went on to talk about his plans for attending the opera, for hosting more dinner parties, and other favorite activities. Death was not the centerpiece, but it was on the table that day. It had to be, as a symbol of how serious we both were about this new stage of our shared journey. Because I believe that one of greatest gifts you can give to a loved one is to ask them what they want at the end of life and then to try to get that for them.
Please share your own experiences with end of life planning. And if you use the Engage with Grace questions, let me know how that goes.