The Final Gift: Planning for Tomorrow, Today
by The Rev. Adrianne Carr
We all know at an intellectual level that death is a part of life. Every autumn, leaves die and drop to the ground. In the spring, new buds come forth into the warmth. Among those leaves, birds build nests and lay eggs. New generations of robins and cardinals and pigeons are born to take the place of the previous generation. We step on ants, swat mosquitoes and, each day, shower away microscopic critters from our bodies. Yes, indeed, life and death are the certainties in an uncertain world.
Nevertheless, death is often the elephant in the room. We know that it comes to all of us, yet, we hesitate to mention it in conversation; avoid planning for it other than preparing a will, and continue to live as much as possible in the present moment. This, I believe, is because through scientific and medical discoveries, we live far healthier lives for increasingly longer years. We beat cancer, survive heart attacks, replace worn out joints with new models and keep active. Why should we even consider making plans for what appears to be a distant future. Like Scarlett O’Hara, we’ll think about it tomorrow.
What if tomorrow comes more suddenly than we expect? What if we have a stroke or a heart attack or are involved in an accident and have given our families no indication of the type of treatment we desire or when to let go? In the case of death, do we want to have our organs donated? Do our families know if we want burial or cremation? What kind of a Service do we want and where? If these and other questions are answered, we give our families a final gift; that of less painful choices and less guilt as they make those decisions.
During the next six months, you will have a number of opportunities to learn more about the reasons for answering those questions and the very strong rationale behind completing an Advanced Directive Form. You will hear from professionals, including Molly Bucci, a lawyer who has much experience in this issue. You will have opportunities to ask questions of medical people and receive support as you fill in the forms. You will also have time to share your concerns and questions with others.
It is our hope that all of us – younger as well as older – complete these forms and know that in the completion we are assured that our wishes for end of life will be honored even as the burden of making choices will be removed from the shoulders of our loved ones. In the coming weeks, programs will be announced and will take place both at day end evening times. Meanwhile, forms will be available soon in the office and on the literature rack for you to take. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions.