While we can only read between the lines of the sad news when Joan was rushed to the hospital after an outpatient procedure and then was in and out of intensive care, it appears she and her daughter at some earlier time had "that conversation."
I've helped thousands of people with end-of-life decisions and I can tell you that the process is beyond stressful. It's extremely confusing and it's racked with guilt. As we mourn the death of Joan Rivers, here is what we can learn from her daughter's brave decision.
Whether due to changes in the economy or the fact that people are now living longer than ever before, there's no denying that the reality of growing older in America is expensive and most people are unprepared to take on the financial burden.
I didn't have a will going into my cancer diagnosis, or a power of attorney. I ended up writing a letter that I would have tried to pass off as a will had things gone awry. But simply having something in writing isn't enough.
End-of-life care, and the subsequent decisions that are related to it, is a sensitive subject that must be handled with compassion and respect from all involved -- from family members to medical personnel.
Expansion of Catholic hospital systems is accelerating around the country, partly by acquiring non-Catholic hospitals. This trend is posing an increasing threat to access to care in two major areas -- reproductive services and end-of-life care.
You alone carry the knowledge of how your grief lives in you. You alone know all the filaments of life and of love that fly through you. You alone know how deeply your life is now changed. You alone have to face this, inside your own heart.
The case of Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old girl declared brain dead at Children's Hospital Oakland on Dec. 12, is but the most recent example of a 40-year-old national perplexity and the controversy that it is capable of unleashing.
I usually don't go for New Year's resolutions, but I'm glad we did this one. I want my voice to be heard loud and clear if there ever comes a time when my family has to make health care decisions on my behalf.
The case of Marlise Munoz may ultimately be decided on legal grounds -- that is, whether the Texas statute is applicable to a dead body containing a living fetus. The ethical question, however, remains.
Until health care providers become more skilled in helping patients and families to choose their hopes carefully, many of us will continue to receive the most aggressive treatment possible because there is still "hope," without the chance to reflect on what that word means to us.
My pastor recently suggested that I get informed on my elderly parents' financial situation and end-of-life plans so I can be better prepared when something happens to them. What's the best way to handle this and what all do I need to find out?
Advanced illness is unfortunately an aspect of life. While our culture no longer whispers the name of serious conditions such as cancer, we far too often go silent on the subject of dealing with a disease that is likely to take the life of someone we love.
Creating a living will is one of those things most people plan to do, but rarely get around to actually doing. Less than 30 percent of Americans currently have one. But preparing one now gives you say in how you want to be treated at the end of your life.