Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Little More About The Living Will

Some sections of the Five Wishes living will form contain sets of "standard" statements that are included by default, unless you cross them out. One of the statements that I am choosing to cross out says this:

"I want to die in my home, if that can be done".

Actually, I do want to die in my home, when the time comes. The advantages of dying at home rather than in a health care facility seem fairly obvious, so I won't belabor them. It's only after you're gone that the less desirable aspects of doing so present themselves, and they all fall into the laps of the survivors at once. There is a substantial amount of paperwork involved. Local police must be summoned and admitted to the death chamber, because they must produce a document asserting their inability to find any evidence of foul play. And the person who must cope with all this -- the deceased's principal caregiver -- is certain to be both physically and emotionally exhausted, and least capable of anything resembling clear, level-headed thinking,
at precisely the moment that it is required.

On the other hand, if death occurs in a hospice environment, all of these end-game matters are handled by staff trained for and experienced in doing exactly that. Getting all the loose ends
painlessly and unobtrusively tied up will be a matter of routine, more or less. Meanwhile, counseling is usually immediately available to the survivors on-site, should they express a desire for it.

So even though dying at home, in comfortingly familiar surroundings, sounds preferable to being transported to a hospice and dying amongst strangers in a strange place, I have nevertheless chosen the latter course for myself, for the reasons offered above.

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