The Real Lesson

If you haven't made out a living will and health care power of attorney by now, this posting probably won't help, but: DO IT!!! Just because you're not as old as me, or think nothing will happen to you, don't put it off. These documents are easily downloadable (in WI, from the state), and can be filled out without the assistance of an attorney. Don't count on verbal instructions or that your spouse or someone else will be able to convince your family that they knew what you wanted. Do this for yourself and your loved ones.

TODAY!! Next week you'll be able to put it off again, and it just won't get done. Let this be the lesson learned from this week.


  • 20 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Honestly, I don't plan on making a living will any time soon. This has not moved me to get one either. I really don't think I know right now want I want to happen in the future! My husband and my family know me, know what I would want. If they can't agree and get along, then that's on them. Some things you can not control.
  • It is easy for you to say that right now and I thought the same about all of my family. However, let me tell you that the hardest, most gut-wrenching experience I have ever lived through was the discussion my mother and 2 brothers had making the decision to remove life support from my father. We all knew in our hearts and minds what Dad would want but it would have been a whole heck of a lot easier had his wishes been documented.

    I promised my sons shortly thereafter that I would not put them in that position and carried through with my promise. My wishes are documented, notorized and all 3 of my sons along with my wife have a copy. Wouldn't have it any other way.
  • You do make a good point about making it easier for those left behind. But, life is also about choices even if they are not fun choices.
  • Yes but the choice should be yours and not pushed off on others to make. You are taking the easy way out and choosing to put your family through hell they don't deserve to be put through. You need to step up and make this decision for them. JMHO.
  • That's not true. I am not forcing any decisions on anybody. I am also raising my kids to make decisions for themselves and I married my husband because he is not helpless and knows how to make a decision. We are married because a lot of those decisions are the same and result of shared values. If and when the decisions are different we can definately respect each others decisions.

    You also misread part of what I said. They do know me and would not have any trouble knowing what to do in that situation. IF for some reason they disagree AMONGST THEMSELVES then so be it. I am not going to try to control them from the grave or any other vegatative state.
  • NG the problem you will have with your apporach, is, those on whom you rely to make the decision may not be permitted to make it PRECISELY because you failed to let the world (interpret - the courts) know that you had told your loved ones what you wanted, theywere aware of your wishes, and were empowered BY YOU to carry them out. Not putting it in writing puts an awful burden on them and may cause them unnecessary suffering because they may lack the power to do what they knew y ou would have wanted. Now, I don't care who has a living will (or other death designation) but those who don't have one leave their fate, and the decisions of their loved ones to pure chance, not to mention the whims of some stranger and their elected co -horts. In most states, you don't have to be that specific about the directions, just say you have discussed it with them and they are empowered to act.
  • NG - Somthing to think about.

    In 2002 we lost my step-mother of 35 years. She went into surgery and we were never able to talk to her again. She had a stroke and was basically brain dead. We made the decision to turn off the machines and she died.

    In the state where she lived, the doctor had to approve of the disconnection. He told us flat out that if we did not have 100% agreement to turn the machines off that he wouldn't sign off on it. Imagine what would have happened if we had just had one family member unable to say goodbye. As it was, the process of making the decision to actually turning off the equipment took nearly 3 days. What a nightmare, but at least we all knew what she wanted since she was clear about it.

    On the other hand, she always refused to discuss funeral arrangments. She always said she wouldn't be there anyway so it didn't matter. I later decided it was the only selfish thing I ever saw her do.

    Deep in grief the last thing we wanted to do was have to make a ton of decisions. Everyone was struggling to try to figure out what SHE would have wanted. When you are not thinking clearly, it is really difficult to figure even obvious things out. We spent forever deciding on flowers and music. Some things we would have had to decide on anyway, but she could have saved us a lot of anguish if she had just spoken up when we asked her about it. She simply did not want to think about it. As I said, it was uncharacteristically selfish of her.

    We were all raised to make our own decisions too, but our decisions pertain to us and our children until they are grown. Decisions that pertain to your parents are THEIR decisions. It wasn't fair to palm them off on someone else because she just didn't want to deal with them. Maybe I misunderstood your point of view, but it really reminded me of her leaving us holding the bag. I have so many wonderful memories of this woman, unfortunately, my last memory shadows all the rest.
  • NG -

    You have taken quite a tongue-lashing from some very well-intentioned people. I admit, I have not made a living will, and the thought of making end-of-life decisions at this time is quite overwhelming to me. Another option would be naming a proxy to make decisions in the event you can't. In the states I have worked, this is called a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This is a legal instrument that names a specific person as the ONE PERSON authorized to make whatever medical treatment decisions are necessary. It does not take effect until you are too ill to make your own decisions or to communicate your decisions. A DPOA is often part of a living will, but it can also be executed as a separate document.

    In the event you decide to go this route, it is important that you have communicated your desires to whomever you name. Or, if you have concerns about anything specific ("I'm not sure about..."), it's very important that they know what it is that troubles you about that decision so they can come as close as possible to what you would want.

    One other gem a very wise friend passed on to me - It may not be wise to give DPOA for health care to the same person who will have control of your finances or your estate. Too much chance that financial interests will control health care decisions.
  • In an earlier post on HIPAA, I urged those without living wills to make one, if they felt so inclined. However, I also cautioned that the one-size-fits-all kind you get at the stationery store out of a box may not fly in your jurisdiction. Spend the extra couple hundred bucks it will take and have your lawyer draft one that complies with your local laws and statutes. The best time to do this is when you have him/her draft your Last Will and Testament.

    However, as I also mentioned in the HIPAA post, it can be gut-wrenching to make a decision, put it in writing and then change your mind. This happened when my father was terminally ill and my brothers and I had to decide whether to stop shocking him back everytime he went into cardiac arrest. A few days earlier, he had written a note to us (because he could no longer speak) in which he told us that he didn't want to be kept on life support. A few days later, on the brink of death, he jotted another note telling us he had changed his mind and wanted to live.
  • I certainly trust my Hubby to make such decisions for me....but I also know my mother...well....she would fight him every step of the way, eventhough I've repeatedly said that I do not wish to be kept alive with no hope for a meaningful reoovery...and she always responds that my life, regardless of it's state or condition is worthwhile to her.

    I appreciate and understand that...but it is my life and I would be the one laying in bed hooked up to machines, not her...

    it's all about perspective.
  • My husband and I, several years ago, when we updated our wills made out durable powers of attorney and living wills. We also made known to each other (in writing) what our wishes will be pertaining to our funerals.

    Also, anything in particular that you want to go to a particular individual, needs to be in writing.

    Before my mother in law passed away, she made it clear any personal items she wanted to go to individuals. When she passed away, it amazed me how many people had the audacity to come forward and say my mother in law "promised" them such and such. (These people, by the way. were no where to be found when she needed assistance and care). My mother in law's best friend told me this would happen, but I never would have believed the greed and the nerve of people!

    Yes, it is morbid to think about such things,but I can guarantee you that the remainder of your life or your loved ones will be much less stressful if these things are done beforehand.

  • Rockie: Please remember to put me down for that Garnet & Onyx ring in your jewelry box.
  • >Rockie: Please remember to put me down for that
    >Garnet & Onyx ring in your jewelry box.

    Sure thing, Don. I also have a couple of empty bottles with your name on them!

  • My late mother-in-law (she was a great mother-in-law) put little pieces of masking tape on all of her worldly goods with an individual's name on each one. Don't know if it would have held up in court, but everyone agreed with that division of property. Certainly made it easy on the family.
  • Hey, Hunter!

    I've heard of this also. As long as the relatives don't do what they do with price stickers in the stores - switch them!
  • O.k. now that I know how much you all seem to disagree with me, why do you all have to make it personal. Like telling me I am not being responsible, that I need to "step up and make this decision for them", that I am "pushing a choice off on others".

    At the same time that some of you are saying that I am making an error by not having a living will you are at the same time saying that - putting tape with a name on it for who should receive that item only works if no one switches them!

    That, regardless of my wishes, my mother always responds by saying the life is precious and worthwhile;

    That it can be gut-wrenching to make a decision, put in on paper, only to change your mind;

    That financial interests will control health care decsions regardless of your wishes (that there may me any number of motivating factors that would keep a person from honoring your wishes)!...and so on.

    So, here's what I still think. A living will does not absolutely prevent your loved ones from arguing. I think it is eqaully selfish to "not want to make a decision while deep in grief" How is that worse than being dead? That some family members might be unable to say goodbye and therefore not agree with what everyone else wants to do. Isn't that selfish too?

    And last, did you hear about a case (that was reported in Newsweek) about a daughter who plans on filing a motion to disregard her father's living will instructions because she believes he should be kept alive. She is doing this even if the face of the mother/spouse wanting to carry out the instructions as written in the father's living will?
  • Nat: I don't have a theory on whether or not one should have or not have a living will. But, I have one.

    I do suggest that you go ahead and 'move' on this though, since by your own admission on another thread, you are well on your way to polishing off five dozen boiled eggs in the past 10 days.

    If you're laid up in ICU on a ventilator, after 60 boiled eggs, the staff won't vote to keep you hooked up, I'm bettin'.
  • I didn't eat ALL of the eggs, I had help from everyone else. No complaints so far either on that issue.
  • I had no intentin of making my remark 'personal' in a lecture sort of way. I merely tried to show that doing nothing and leaving it up to those who love you do to best might not work either. x:-(
  • NG

    After posting my last post I re-read it and felt I was perhaps a little harsh. I wasn't meaning to be judgemental, though I think that is what came across. I just wanted to you see another point of view...the view from my chair after we lost my step-mother.

    Death is painful whether you have a living will or not. Like many other people who have children, I try to do the things my parents did that worked, and avoid the ones that didn't. In my case, the in-action of my step-mother left a bad taste in my mouth. I don't want to do the same thing to my children, so I have seen a lawyer.

    You have the right to do it anyway you wish, and I support your right whether or not I agree with it.

    May you live forever and so the issue never comes up.
Sign In or Register to comment.