The fact that most people do not even know what end-of-life planning involves is both sad and the source of an enormous amount of stress and distress for many families. We have all heard horror stories about families fighting over a loved one's will or struggling over what medical treatment choices to make on their behalf when they are unable to communicate their wishes. These guessing games, power struggles and the heartache involved could all be avoided or drastically reduced if we would only face the reality of human mortality and document our preferences for the end of our lives in advance of need.
Talking about dying and death is a huge social taboo. It is almost as though we collectively put our hands over our eyes like children who innocently think, "if I don't see it or look at it, it doesn't exist." But, it does. So, let's take a look at the truth of this matter.
The key to effective end-of-life planning is not to race through filling out legal documents, but rather to take our time to thoughtfully clarify our thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and feelings about dying and death first. It is important to understand that our mental and emotional posture serves as the foundation for how we live our lives, which includes how we live our dying.
We need to take the time to understand the full scope of what is involved in putting our affairs in order and seek out solid information on each topical area. Then we can dive in and embrace the process. While perhaps daunting or a bit scary at first, many are surprised to find this a very interesting, self-revealing and liberating process.
The Five Areas of End-of-Life Preparation
- Your Values and Beliefs: Clarifying your beliefs about aging, incapacitation, dying and death serve as the foundation for all the decisions you will make regarding your own end-of-life process.
End-of-life planning is not about secretly hiding away documents that express your wishes, but rather using these documents as the basis for important conversations with your loved ones, doctor(s) and other advisors and caregivers so that your voice is heard and that any objections or concerns can be addressed in advance. This takes courage, yet it is the most loving thing we can do to prevent the heartache and horror stories that will otherwise be caused by not speaking up on our own behalf.
Understanding the importance of end-of-life planning doesn't seem to be enough. So, let's debunk some of the most common excuses we make for not putting our affairs in order:
Top Seven Excuses for Not Putting Our Affairs in Order
- Irrational Fears: "If I do the paperwork, then I will die soon and if I don't do it, I won't die because I won't be ready yet." -- As with all fears, they are only as powerful as the energy we feed into them.
If you are not convinced yet to put your affairs in order, consider the payoffs.
The Top Five Payoffs for Putting Your Affairs in Order Now!
- Protecting Your Right to Make Your Own Decisions: Having decisions made from your point of view -- not someone else's.
I rest my case!
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