I attended a workshop earlier in the week about Advance Directives for Health Care.
An Advance Directive is an official document that an individual can fill out and have notarized that specifies what her or his end-of-life wishes are.
In other words, if you’re in a coma and not likely to recover, who gets to make the decision about pulling the plug?
Well, actually the decision is ultimately up to the individual…i.e. you and me…but the point of the Advanced Directive is to insure in writing that someone will be at your bedside at the end who has authority to carry out your wishes.
Anyway…. I’m not that old but I’m not that young either, so, yeh, an Advanced Directive is a good idea.
(Actually, it’s a good idea for people of ANY age because…well…ya never know….)
However, sitting for 45 minutes and watching a video about planning for your own death at 8 o’clock at night is not ideal.
Watching and listening and signing up to get The Form kinda gave me the willies. And in two weeks, when we meet again, a notary will be available to stamp our completed directives in efficient assembly-line fashion.
(And anything to do with “efficient assembly line” activities of any sort rather makes my ancestoral bones shake a bit….)
I went home that evening feeling somewhat lonely and strange. I had filled out an Advance Directive a number of years ago that was supposed to be in effect “forever,” but that piece of paper, like the relationship that went with it, has long been null and void.
So I was mentally scratching my head in confusion wondering, “WTH! I’m single! Who do I ask to be my Agent of Death NOW??”
As for relatives, my elderly parents have still not filled out an Advance Directive of their own, so that’s a no-go. My aunt…nope…. My Cuz…nope, bless his heart. And…end of family list.
Priest? Nope…I don’t want some clergyperson sitting by my deathbed checking his cellphone every three minutes, impatiently waiting for me to kick the bucket so he can move on to his backyard BBQ in the suburbs.
So then I started going through the friend list. And I was thinking (I think a LOT!) “Heck, that’s a lot of responsibilty to put on a BFF!”
But…I finally asked and we brainstormed (well…she brainstormed — I was brain-dead on this one) and figured it out.
The important thing, first of all, is to remember that all decisions are just “for now.” After all, “for now” is all we have.
So I’m going to spread the joy among a number of friends…BFF can go on the “official” notarized form and then copies of the wretched thing can go to two or three other friends. This way, I’m covered if one lucky friend is not “available” — another one can fill in. And, oh, of course, I can’t forget the medical file at the impersonal medical institution.
The thing about it all also is that it’s not just about me dying. An Advanced Directive can also insure that my wishes are known about what happens to my body (or body parts), my stuff and, most importantly, my animal companions.
Right now there are three cats and were I to keel over tomorrow, I would definitely want them to be provided and cared for in the same spoiled way that they are now.
So, just for now, Jack, Mulder and Scully’s needs go onto the Advance Directive. And then, when there are other animal companions (because there will ALWAYS be animal companions!), they will be provided for also. My Agent of Death can also be an Agent of Life.
The lesson for me in all of this is that even if I am “alone,” I am not alone. I have friends.
And that’s what “Love one another” is all about.
©March 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver