Saturday, February 9, 2019

How to Best Prepare for End of Life Choices

A few years ago when my Mom passed away the Hesed Committee (a support group within my Synagogue) gave me a book called "Happier Endings" by Erica Brown.   The premise in the book was the various ways individuals and cultures tackle and prepare for the end of life. The author's interest grew from her own experiences with family members who had gone through difficult times including surviving the holocaust and a cousin who took her life unexpectedly.  This author wanted to get an understanding of what drove some people to react how they did as the inevitable approached.

It was mentioned that those with a sudden death are short changed and not given the opportunity to do the things they had hoped for and paradoxically those with long ailments may have the time but not the stamina.  As I read the book I personally explored the experience I had with my parents and another close family member.  While my Dad had longer drawn out health issues he was a trooper with a strong will to live and do what he could up until the last moments.  Likewise my Mom who was stricken with Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer was in full control of her ending and settling her personal estate up until her very end.  She wanted to be and was basically in full control of all her decisions up until the last days.

From this experience I have started to think about and build my own framework for these difficult choices with my husband.  It is important to be sure you have a long term health plan in place.  Additionally financial and estate planning are musts.  A living will may be a good tool to start.  If you have a lot of stuff it, I recommend learning how to declutter and donate.  A few good books on this topic include The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. by Maria Kondo. 

A new book by Katy Butler is coming out on February 19 that addresses how to prepare for a good end of life.  There is an overview of “The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life,” in today's Wall Street Journal.  What I take away from reading this article and the books above are that we all will face difficult decisions down the road.    The best choices are made when there is time for research and evaluating best options.  When decisions must be made because a crisis hits things can be rushed, emotional and often there less good options available.  I always heard that "an informed decision is a good decision".  We want to make our personal journeys  meaningful and the least disruptive to those we love.

As an SRES realtor I am trained and enjoy reading about opportunities to better serve my more senior clients.  As a volunteer producer of theater events we often can rehearse, plan and script a how but a good outcome requires planning and preparation.  I am always available for a quick conversation or the opportunity to work with clients and their families who may be contemplating a transition.  Feel free to check out my website at www.wendybcb.com  or to send me an email or contact preferences.  

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