◄ by Vicki Barbour – Erie, CO ►
As Attunement Practitioners, we are concerned about generating pneumaplasmic substance through our living. And we are concerned about responsible stewardship of that substance physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In that stewardship, have we given thought to end-of-life choices?
Most of us have a will so that our loved ones aren’t saddled with what to do with all our material possessions, but what about other decisions; i.e., medical death (aggressive medical treatment/life support) or non-medical death (hospice/comfort care)?
As a culture, we push death away. We don’t want to think about it or talk about it. Doctors have been trained to see death as a failure – they want to fix us. We may well ask ourselves when is it okay to shift focus on curative care to focus on comfort care? When can we let go and live consciously through our dying process? There is such an opportunity to connect with family & friends, to heal relationships, to fold into death. Our fear of death often comes from regrets in life and missed opportunities.
Granted, we don’t know when or how we are going to die, but more likely it’ll be from a serious illness or after dementia sets in rather than by a car accident/sudden death. A new survey taken by The Conversation Project reveals a ‘conversation disconnect’: 90% of Americans know they should have a conversation about what they want at the end of life, yet only 30% have done so. There are a host of reasons why: It’s not something they need to worry about (29%), they aren’t sick yet (23%), the subject makes them feel uncomfortable (21%) or they don’t want to upset their loved ones (19%). It’s always too early to talk about it, until it’s too late.
Death is no longer a simple private event. It has become a public team event. I recently experienced this when a close friend had a recurrence of throat cancer and was in the hospital. Each doctor who came in had his own view of what should be done! The primary care doctor said one thing, the oncologist another, the radiologist and the chemo doctors couldn’t agree with each other, and the research experimental drug doctor wanted something else.
What team members do you want to create for you from your biological family, intentional family, attunement family, spiritual family, medical family? You want it to be the right team.
We can direct what a “good death” can be for us, not just a philosophy. By “good death,” I mean a death that reflects our values, our living and our wishes. It could mean a medical death with the doctors doing everything to keep us alive. It could mean being at home, wherever home is, and/or on hospice care surrounded by friends and family. It could mean alone.
Giving thought to these matters, talking to our family and loved ones about our wishes, and filling out a Living Will as well as a Medical Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare Decisions, is called ‘estate planning for the heart.’ We don’t have to dump all the difficult decisions on our family and loved ones.
But, wait! There’s more! What about funeral and memorial service? Burial or cremation? Ashes spread or buried? Home funerals are coming back. They are a return to a time when families and communities continued to care for their loved-ones after their death, bathing and anointing them, beautifying a room in the family home or other space for a visitation or wake, and carrying out their own meaningful rituals prior to burial or cremation. So there are decisions to be made for the right stewardship of the physical body after death.
Death is inevitable. The more you live with your death everyday, the more you live: aware of how you spend your time; living without regrets; being thankful.