End-of-Life Issues and the Topics Therein

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

End-of-Life issues are almost a taboo subject in our society. This should not be the case in reality. In the cycle of life, in order for one to be born, one must die. In this case, die with dignity and with the ability that you prepared yourself, and loved ones, as much as you could with Advance Care Planning. This is an opportunity to put in writing your wishes re: life saving measures, organ donation or not, instances where perhaps antibiotics or oxygen are allowed.

One does not want to leave this decision to family members who may not agree with one another. This is not the time for family to be fighting. Really it is about what the person who is dying would have wanted.

So, this means planning around what is often a very difficult topic. Think of it as ‘The Conversation.” You know, the one you have with your parents, older family members, seniors, clients and patients. First, as a professional you need to be comfortable with this topic and many are not. The question becomes why? Again, it is reality.

“Death is a subject that is evaded, ignored and denied by our youth-worshipping society. Death is inevitable-we will all die someday, the question is when?” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“Ask yourself as the professional or adult child, how much time and energy have you put into examining your own feelings, beliefs, hopes and fears about the end of your life? Whatever the things are that would make your life more personally meaningful before you die-do them now.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

There are many resources out there on this issue:

Palliative, Death and Dying, Advance Care Planning, writing wills and mandates, anything by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross or Kay Redfield Jamison.

Have the conversation with your clients and family members.

I will end with a poem that I think sums it all up:
Grant that I may not
So much seek to be justified,
as to console;
to be obeyed,
as to understand;
to be honored,
as to love…
For it is in giving of ourselves
that we heal,
it is in listening
that we comfort,
and in dying
that we are born to eternal life. – St. Francis

* A blog to assist with grief: http://sandielzinga.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/the-grief-road-not-taken/