Few of us like to think of losing a close relative however, the end finally comes to us all. When you suffer from a terminal disease or are simply elderly and frail, whether you know the end is imminent or not, there is a choice. Just to say “I don’t want a fuss, just a simple funeral” or nowadays, “just a direct or unattended funeral” leaves many unanswered questions. It may be a surprise but only about 5% of people either set aside funds to pay for their own funeral or leave clear written instructions. People often put more effort into planning a family holiday than their own funeral.
You may feel awkward discussing this with your family however, to leave no clear wishes will put them in the unenviable position of scrambling around asking what did you want when the end comes. When doctors ask bewildered relatives what they want done for you, they may say “everything “ however they probably mean “everything that’s reasonable?” in their confusion and sorrow. Doctors may perform the latest technology on a grievously ill person when they know there is only painful misery and, the end result is the same, only later. Professionals know this as “futile care”.
Relatives may have unrealistic expectations of what miracle surgery and remedies, that may be medically approved, can achieve. Even the super-rich who think they can afford to buy into perpetual life, few will succeed and out of hundreds of patients who receive CPR, only a tiny number survive.
Spend time with your family members. Take time to say your goodbyes. Talk everything through, quietly and share precious moments. There will be some members of the family who need to spend time with you righting wrongs from long ago even between other family members.
Invite friends to visit you too. Some may feel embarrassed about coming but, put them at their ease. Say you need support and help too. You do not know whether a visit may be the last.
Such final visits can be traumatic but that’s not the point, because many people feel a sense of ease and a release from earthly troubles when with old friends, whose conversation allows thoughts to flow.
If you are religious, invite your local vicar. Pray together and rejoice in a life well lived and perhaps perform the last rites. It has been said that people know when their time has come. When it is time to move on, to make way for the next generation, and be at peace with the world.
This can be a glorious conclusion.
Here are some suggestions to prepare for the end of your life so you don’t die in pain and don’t die alone.
- Do you want to make a living will whilst you are still able?
- Have you made a Will?
- Do you want to be resuscitated?
- Do you want to be buried or cremated?
- Do you want a big formal funeral in Church?