You finally did it – you put your healthcare surrogate, living will
and durable power of attorney (advance directives) in place. It was hard
to think about yourself as being incapacitated and unable to communicate
your wishes, but despite the discomfort, you took the steps to put in
writing your choices as to who you want to communicate for you and what
you want them to communicate if you can’t communicate yourself.
Now you put these documents in your safe deposit box along with your other
important documents and check this task off your “to do” list.
However, you are not finished. Putting these advance directives in place
is a two-step process. The first step is actually getting your thoughts
and wishes properly on paper. The second step is to let your family know
that you have taken this step and explain to them what you want.
Your wishes are not as effective if your family doesn’t understand
them. Putting your wishes on paper is certainly much better than doing
nothing, but especially when it comes to medical issues, your wishes may
not be self-explanatory. For instance, what is quality of life for you?
If your family has to choose between keeping you alive by artificial means
and letting you die a natural death, do they know which choice you prefer?
Do they know why? Will they have to make this choice with doubts that
may haunt them for the rest of their lives or can they make this choice
knowing they are doing exactly what you want them to do?
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of accomplishment just by putting
your wishes on paper. Take the next step and communicate, communicate,
communicate. Your family will be grateful that you did.