Twice in the same day I found myself having a conversation with someone
about the importance of having a living will and how grateful they were
that their family members had prepared a living will. In general, a living
will tells your family and your doctors whether you want to receive life
prolonging medical assistance if you are for instance in a terminal condition
or persistent vegetative state. The interesting aspect of the conversations
for me was that although both people had experienced the benefits of being
directed by their loved one’s living will, one of them was still
having a hard time motivating herself to have her own living will prepared.
Having a living will prepared is a difficult step to take. How do you tell
your family that you have thought ahead about dying and prepared a living
will – it might upset someone. How do you look at a document with
your name on it and instructions regarding your death without experiencing
a sobering jolt of reality over something that previously always seems
safely in the distance?
Although it is difficult to discuss the subject of death and living wills
it is really one of the most thoughtful favors you can do for your family.
A conversation that is difficult and emotional now just becomes much more
difficult and emotional later if your family finds themselves trying to
decide what you would have wanted when a decision has to be made. Although
a living will doesn’t make the experience of losing a loved one
any easier, it does spare your family the turmoil, doubt and second guessing
associated with having to do what they think is best when they don’t
know what you would have thought was best.
So, do yourself and your family a difficult favor. Prepare your living
will now and then discuss your wishes contained in the living will with
your family now. The experience and the discussion will still be emotional
but it will be much less emotional for everyone to prepare now rather
than be unprepared later.