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Plan for a good death - talk about your wishes

From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

We're not very good at dying ...Read the full article

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  1. Gail Kingwell from calgary, Canada writes: Check out the Personal Care Directive from Alberta . This guides people through the process.
  2. Peter vliegende hollander from Calgary Foothills, Canada writes: It will open up the euthanasia discussion again, unfortunately. In our family, old as we are becoming, we have started to discuss this 'end of life' situation.
    These situations, even when called 'suicide', are not threatening to society, are not addictive etc. ( Abortion being another one)
    These decisions are not made in a cavalier way, contrary to those amateur psychologists, which call upon quasi moral reasons. They are NOT near the end of life, so they should stay out of it, and leave the decision process to the individual, without making it even more difficult.
    Good article, thanks. ( In our own family already two such decisions have been made)
  3. Kim Philby from Canada writes: A "good death"? There's no such thing; there are only varying degrees of a bad death.
  4. MJ Patchouli from Regina, Canada writes: Not true, Kim Philby. I knew a fellow who, at the age of 86, and with no illness or health problems to speak of, keeled over outside his home while taking down his Christmas lights, and died of a massive heart attack.

    As deaths go, that one seems quite good -- no prolonged illness to worry relatives, still healthy and joyous enough to put up Christmas lights himself, and at a ripe old age. Yes, that seems a good death.
  5. SusieQ 321 from Canada writes: I know my Mum wants a quality of life... not quantity... so if it comes down to it no life support, no prolonging of her life to die a few weeks later in a hospital. Like my mother I have made it clear to my PoA holders that if I am a vegetable with no hope of recovery pull the plug or hand me the pills so I can overdose. I would much rather die than live a life of nothing.
    I knew the same thing when my Dad died last fall. We could have added the high tech stuff to prolong his life by a few weeks or up to a month but he didn't want to live that way. He was fortunate in his death of cancer he was active and the healthiest terminal cancer patient his oncologist had ever seen. He was fortunate to have the quality, to spent time with his family and friends and do the things he loved, his daily 5KM walks with the dog, his projects with his local service clubs, marching in the veterans parades and being active politically.
    His death while sad was swift and merciful with time to say goodbye and once again voice how much we love each other.
    I know my family doesn't want a funeral and they know I have no intentions of having one either. I know we all want our bodies to be donated for scientific research and if there are viable organs give them to someone who has a better use for them than I do.
    These are just simple common sense conversations I have known since my grandfather died when I was 4 years old my family didn't believe or have funerals. I have known since my brother was killed when I was 12 that our family supported organ donation and scientific research.
    This is not rocket science just making your wishes known.
  6. Edward Eh from Bathurst, NB, Canada writes: Give or take a couple of points, 30% of the country's medical budget is spent on the 'last 2 weeks of life heroics'. Tell your families you don't want to suffer two weeks longer and screw the country in the bargain. My son knows and 'gets it'.
  7. Peter vliegende hollander from Calgary Foothills, Canada writes: My father had a stroke. He sometimes regained some form of halucinating consciousness. The doctors suggested a pace maker. When asked if that would 'improve' his quality of life, the answer was negative. It would only extend his 'life', not his spirit.

    We did decide not to go for the pace maker.
  8. Little Bear from Canada writes: This is a good article and I need to think long and hard on it.

    Tomorrow I go in for a cancer biopsy as the Drs feel there is something going on inside, I do as well.

    I am not young and know that none of us are getting out of this world alive and it is not the going that bothers me but how I go.

    I think that writing the final instructions is a very good idea and coming face to face with the end needs a plan. I sure as hell don't want my spouse having to make these decisions and ruining her life over something that I could deal with now.

    If you love those who are left behind, then you make these decisions now. Keep the emotion out of the equation and look at the hard reality.

    Too many say, I don't want to go, therefore I will bury my head in the sand and perhaps it will all go away or somebody else will make the decisions for me.

    Great article and something to focus on when near the end.
  9. leo bloom from radisson, sask, canada, Canada writes: Hey Little Bear - good luck tomorrow. This might sound like a shallow nudge and wink, but no matter what happens, you can find some silver lining, some grace in a bad or even a good diagnosis for that matter - I know this to be true. I also know that this will be a long night - a long next how-many-days, but there are better days ahead. Peace.
  10. J S from Canada writes: Good article.
  11. William O'Brien from Wolfville, Canada writes: Thanks Dr, Evans.
  12. Trixie V from Canada writes: As someone who has watched several family members die from serious illnesses, I agree wholeheartedly with this article.

    Although it is difficult, family members must make their wishes known before they become ill. This saves the families who are left from having to make those decisions when they are grieving.
  13. Little Bear from Canada writes: Leo Thanks. No sleep for me last night. Tired but have to go now.

    Either way this too shall pass.
  14. Esther Zeller from Toronto, Canada writes: Great article. I am a Registered Art Therapist and I also teach students about Art Therapy and Aging. We mainly look at the losses that older adults have and how Art Therapy can help to cope with these losses and increase the quality of life remaining for older adults.
    One of the exercises we do in class is that all of the students create an image of their perfect death. We view all of the images and have really interesting discussions. This is a great way to express a difficult and necessary topic. If we can get people thinking about their inevitable death in a healthy way, we can continue this conversation with others as a topic that touches us all.
  15. Roy Hind from Canada writes: Thank you Dr. Michael Evans for a thought provoking article. It has been suggested the article could again open up the discussion on euthanasia – I hope only in a positive way . My wife passed away peacefully a while ago with aspirational pneumonia, but had the doctors had their way she would have been kept “animated”, by means of a feeding tube for an indeterminate length of time. After fifty four years together it was a difficult decision, but nonetheless I feel blessed because we had discussed this possible scenario and the answer was to let her leave peacefully because I knew that would have been her wish.
    To Little Bear from Canada, l loved your philosophy – this too shall pass. My thoughts for peace of mind are with you. For others reading these blogs a remarkable book by Dr. Brian Weiss M.D. titled Many Lives Many Masters may provide some comfort no matter if you are grieving or not. It will certainly give pause for thought and the obsession with maintaining life no matter at what cost.
  16. Karen Clarke from Calgary, Canada writes: Thanks to Gail from Calgary for mentioning the Personal Directives Act in Alberta. There is a wonderful program that was developed by the Calgary Health Region called My Voice - Planning Ahead, advance care planning program. There are several items that people can benefit from. The My Voice workbook is a little booklet that tells you about things to think about in terms of medical decisions. It also gives you a place to write about your answers to some specific questions about your values. Although it is hard to think about this stuff, it sure is helpful. The book also includes a Personal Directive for those who have not done one yet. This can save alot of money because you do not need a lawyer to do a personal directive. I did not know that before reading the booklet. Their website is Even if you don't live in Alberta, do the book. It is helpful to you and your family. We had a family dinner on Mother's Day and discussed this as a family - three generations aged 18 - 89. We are each going to look at the workbook and then talk again. It is important for everyone to do this - it will save lots of panic when the decisions need to be made. I will feel better knowing for sure what is important to my husband and our parents if something awful happened to them. It is very comforting to know that we are taking steps to understand each other. We may not agree with what each other wants, but we will be able to understand and try our best to support them. The My Voice program is terrific - just do it.

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