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End of Life Intentions

End of Life Intentions

June 28, 2017 08:04 AM

Today, we’re talking about the facts of life — one fact in particular.  

That fact is that we all die.  Even though we, and the important people in our lives know this, it’s often tough to accept.  This can be especially true when a parent tries to bring up the subject with their grown children.   More often than not, the response is along the lines of “mom/dad—you’re not going to die; you’re going to outlive all of us”.  

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Comments like this are rooted in kindness and love—and maybe in denial too.  Thus, if they represent the end of the dialogue, rather than a beginning, they’re not necessarily helpful.  

It’s important for families to talk candidly and across the generations about end-of-life intentions.

One pathway to such a discussion is sending a letter to the closest members of one’s family.  For example, parents with grown children might write to each child, as well as other family members to whom they are particularly close.

In the letter, the writer can explain their desire for clarity in the future—and that making intentions known now is the best way to ensure such clarity.

Despite such explanation, some might interpret such a letter as a sign that the writer is gravely ill or is planning to take their own life.  Reactions such as this often reflect worries held by the person who is reacting.  For example, the reacting person may be fearful of their own mortality—and uncomfortable about the letter having raised the subject.   When offered understanding and information, the reactive person may gain a new perspective.

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