If your reaction to any mention of the dreaded ‘D’ word- death, is dismissal or denial, and if you want to stop reading and click out to something different, you’re in good company. I had a near death experience in my teens, have a will and health directive, have worked as a chaplain in a hospital, and yet I still live at times as though I’m not going to die. Even with the knowledge and experience I have, I often feel as though that final chapter doesn’t apply to me. As terrifying and painful as this life can be at times, it’s still my life and I value it and who and what I love about it deeply. When the time comes, it will be hard to let it go. Although denial is a normal reaction, I invite you to stay and keep reading, as embracing death and educating yourself about it can enrich life and be a gift to your loved ones.
“Perhaps the fact of life most conducive to living fully as a person is an honest awareness and acceptance of death.” – Leo Buscaglia
Facing our mortality and having the important conversations about death and dying with loved ones takes courage. It’s important to embrace courage and have them BEFORE a health crisis, while we’re still healthy. It’s a gift to yourself and your loved ones so that in the midst of a crisis and impending loss, they can rest in the knowing of what to do to honor your values and your wishes.
Where to start?
- We die in the character in which we’ve lived, so live now with purpose – contribute to something greater than yourself.
- Cultivate your relationships – let your loved ones know how much they mean to you.
- Cherish life and all that is good each day.
- Answer the following questions and share the answers with your loved ones
What are your fears? (We often fear loss of independence and suffering before death more than death itself).
What tradeoffs are you willing to make to try to stop progression of a disease and or effects of a critical injury? What are you willing and not willing to endure?
If you are critically injured or ill, do you want extreme measures to be taken in the hospital to keep you alive at all costs or not?
Do you prefer to die at home with hospice care and your loved ones around you?
Do you want to donate organs and tissues?
Do you have a health directive that outlines your wishes and has assigned someone you trust with power of attorney for health care if you’re unable to speak for yourself?
What do you believe about death and the afterlife and how does that support you or not?
We won’t have control over how and when we die, but if we have the courage to prepare well, we can increase the chances of being the author of a better death experience for ourselves and our loved ones.
For those who want to engage more with this topic I recommend, The Five Invitations: What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, by Frank Ostaseski. And as always, I’m here for a conversation, coaching, and spiritual guidance.
Sabrina Roblin, CPCC, a former executive and co-founder of Life Reinspired, is happily enjoying her best chapter of life. She now helps others do the same. Schedule a free Life Reinspired Strategy Session or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.