Chances are that if you are reading this post, you’ve had your fair share of exposure to death. You may have participated in comfort care of a patient in the active phase of dying. Perhaps you played an integral part in the decision making of a patient’s DNR (do not resuscitate) status. You may have held a hand, hugged a family member, or turned off a respirator upon the last breath of a patient. You may have even had your own serious illness.
As nurses, we find ourselves having uncomfortable conversations all of the time. It can be with patients directly, or with family members. It may pertain to risk factors of a patient’s clinical situation, or a treatment that fails to battle the disease adequately. Sometimes we initiate a challenging chat and at other times it happens in the least opportune moment when a patient says: “I’m afraid”. Our courage allows us to engage in difficult conversations, helping patients or family members ease more comfortably into accepting the natural stages of dying. No morphine drip has ever held that amount of power and influence.
So, for all of you brave ones out there who have had these tough conversations with essential strangers….how many of you have your own affairs in order?
Yes, I’m talking to you!
I have a hunch that you, like me, have had that “write a will” task on your list of things to do for long while.
That changed this week for me when I met with a lawyer and completed my trust. I assigned a trustee and a backup trustee with some simple instructions on how to split up my cash. By putting your affairs in order, you make the decisions on how your money is divided up. If you don’t, it is left to the state to make those decisions while your family, or friends, lose a bit of cash and time in the process. Don’t you want your family to focus on mourning what an amazing person you were rather than complaining about you being a procrastinator? It’s great to have these conversations with your family, but it doesn't count if it is not written down.
By no means am I capable of offering legal advice. I suggest looking into your state requirements and evaluate the most efficient means of getting a trust or will set up. There are plenty of cheap versions online, but if you want to be guided thoroughly through the process, you can get assistance from a lawyer. Give yourself a practical timeline of a month or two to complete this task. A good motivation is to call one friend and ask them if they have their estate planning taken care of. And then have this friend hold you accountable on completing the task. You can even use the blog for support and comment when you get it done.
I’ll give you some time to digest this all, but you know down the line, we will be having that friendly advanced directive conversation. Now, go out into the world and smell the roses while you are lucky enough to do so!