Several months ago, I made a video to my future Care Partners. In case you didn’t see it, here is a a link to the video. https://bit.ly/30fWF5O
In the video, I talk to my Future Care Partners, telling them my likes and my dislikes so that when I am struggling with my Dementia, Anxiety and anything else that may make me a little difficult to deal with, they will know what to do.
Realizing that planning how you will pass from this earth is not exactly a fun discussion to have. We also realize that death can come along at any time, so it’s always important to have a plan. Don’t you want to be assured that that when your time comes, you will leave this earth in a manner in which you choose? I know I do,
With that said, Maureen and I have had many conversations about this topic because we both want to make sure that whoever goes first, the other one will know their wishes. We are going to write these wishes in our Journals, making changes and additions as we go along. It’s important to both of us that we give each other what the other wants.
One of the things we agreed on from the get-go is that we want to be cremated. We figured, why would we want to rent space in the ground when we could have our ashes planted in the ground and become a beautiful tree. That is such a beautiful thought that, when in full bloom, people could come sit under our branches and enjoy the shade we could be provide them. To us, that is such a beautiful way to spend eternity.
This blog post is not completely about dying, but more about our dignity. Simply said, I don’t want to spend the last days of my life being kept alive by a machine just to prolong the inevitable. I have work to do, meaning, I am donating my body to science.
– I want them to study my brain to see if something they find could be used to help further understand this most misunderstood disease.
– I want them use my organs to keep someone else alive.
– I want them to use anything they can to benefit others.
I can’t think of a better way to help others, rather than just put me in a hole in the ground.
In preparing for this post, I did l do some research. One of the things I looked at were websites with the title of Death with Dignity. This was not what I was looking for but a lot of folks, now today more than ever, are choosing.
Right from the start it states, “You’re joining a growing movement that works to ensure terminally ill Americans have the freedom to choose from a full range of end-of-life options, including how they die. Seventy percent of Americans support the end-of-life option allowing qualified terminally-ill people to end their lives through physician-prescribed medications. That’s right: seven in ten Americans want this option. https://www.deathwithdignity.org/learn/advocates/
Like I stated above, this is not for me but I respect those who choose this alternative.
So, what do I want to happen during the dying process?
- First of all, I want Music. I want the room to be filled with my favorite music (I am currently working on my playlist) so that when I pass, I will be relaxed and non-stressed. That’s important to me.
- One thing I DON’T WANT is people staring at me during my last moments. I know it will be sad, however, living with Alzheimer’s, Vascular Dementia, Type 2 Diabetes and no telling what awaits me in my later years, I want to be in my own bed, with nice sheets and soft pillows, have Hospice involved, laughter, (I don’t want it to be solemn for that is not who I am) and I have discussed all of this with Maureen.
- I DON’T want to be left alone, (unless Maureen leaves to get a Diet Dr. Pepper from Chik Fil-A)
This will all be put in writing so in case Maureen is not around, it will still be able to be carried out. Why is this so important to have this written?
- I may not be verbal at that time. (Maureen says she couldn’t be so lucky to have me non-verbal.)
I feel people should talk about their fears, no matter how serious, funny or anything in between because we don’t want to be trapped with those fears inside.
Before Maureen, I had no idea how I was going to spend my final days and moments nor did I have anything in writing. The only thing I knew for sure is that I wanted to be cremated and have my body given to science. I was living by myself and I had a fear of something happening to me and no one finding me for days. I had a fear of dying alone.
Now, with Maureen ever present in my life, I no longer have that fear for we now have a plan in place. And even if Maureen is not there, there will still be people by my side and I won’t be alone.
With that said, I feel safer, less anxious, loved, and assured that my wishes will be carried out just as they were planned. There is a secure feeling that is now with me.
You see, in Muareen’s line of work, at times she was the only one standing by the bedside of one of her clients, holding their hand as they passed away. She offered comfort but had no idea what their wishes were. She promised me that would never happen with me.
Some things I forgot to mention was, I want to have a Celebration of Life.
I want music to be played and at one point, I want the song, “Feeling Good” by Michael Bublé to be played. I want food and yes, alcohol. I don’t want anyone to wear black. Instead, I would love it if everyone would wear brightly colored clothes. If you have a Tropical Shirt, that would be even better. (I may add more to this as I think about something new. It’s kind of like me … a work in progress. You never know what you’re gonna get!)
The reason why I mention all this is because, if you don’t already have a plan or haven’t had conversations with your family as to how you want to spend your final days and moments, plan now, so that when that time comes, you will pass away in peace and your loved ones will also know they gave you exactly what you asked for.
Doing this is one of the greatest gifs YOU can give to your Loved Ones.
DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE!!!
Until Next Time . . .
3 thoughts on “Dying with Dignity”
Brian, thank you for your detailed suggestions. I too think it is a very good idea. And yes it helps the Caregiver enormously. My Mum, Margaret Taylor, died with Alzheimer’s on July 3, 2019. I was her caregiver and we had discussed what she wanted a number of years prior, including where I will take hers and my Dad’s ashes. We are in Canada and they will be taken back to Scotland when we are able to fly again. Her Celebration of Life was what she wanted and what I knew she would like. We played Helen Reddy, I Am Woman, her theme song pretty much all my life. The only thing she cared about then was that we did not say “she passed”. I always use “she died”! And the other thing was that no one could wear black. She wanted bright colours! And everyone did. It was party and she was best pleased. It was perfect!
Tomorrow I will attend a webinar about the proposed revision to Canada’s law for MAID, medical assistance in death. It has been legal here since 2016, I think, but excluded dementia, based on having to be of right mind at the time of death; mental illness; and minors. The criterion is “overwhelming pain with terminal prognosis”. There are quite a few hoops to leap through for approval. These three conditions were to be studied for 2 years then recommendations.
I have supported the non-profit organization called “Dying with Dignity” that continues to fight the good fight. It is this organization that is hosting the webinar, “The future of MAID in Canada”. There is a new bill, C7, that removes the final consent in lieu of Advance Directives. It was tabled when government shut down legislated with Covid. No doubt the Advance Directive condition is much like your plan. I believe that it is expected to pass. Not mental illness or minors at this time.
We are very fortunate in Canada in many ways.
God bless you and Maureen. And thank you very much for what you do to help all of us. You guys are my heroes‼️
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Thank you Brian!
My Mum & I discussed her death wishes a number of years ago; and a number of times since her Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I was able to do exactly as she wanted after her death in July 2019. I strongly recommend doing so with your loved one. Then there’s no guess work and you know you are doing what they wanted.
In the obituary, we included “Please do not wear black. Margaret prefers loud, bright colours.” I wore a yellow dress and my husband had on a bright red golf shirt. Nobody wore black and there were all the colours of the rainbow represented. We also had “I am Woman” by Helen Reddy played during the service. It was lovely.
I now have Mum & Dad’s ashes ready for a trip home to Scotland for the final resting place my Mum told me to put them; Mum in Banchory and Dad in Dundee. I’ve decided to split them up together; as Mum had pretty much forgotten Dad the last year or so. They we’re married 47 years when Dad died in 2004 💖💛❤️💞😢
I’ve already planned mine. I’m sure it gave your Mum peace of mind knowing that was one less thing to worry about. I think everyone should do this!
Thanks for sharing!
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