Twice in the same day I found myself having a conversation with someone about the importance of having a living will and how grateful they were that their family members had prepared a living will. In general, a living will tells your family and your doctors whether you want to receive life prolonging medical assistance if you are for instance in a terminal condition or persistent vegetative state. The interesting aspect of the conversations for me was that although both people had experienced the benefits of being directed by their loved one’s living will, one of them was still having a hard time motivating herself to have her own living will prepared.
Having a living will prepared is a difficult step to take. How do you tell your family that you have thought ahead about dying and prepared a living will – it might upset someone. How do you look at a document with your name on it and instructions regarding your death without experiencing a sobering jolt of reality over something that previously always seems safely in the distance?
Although it is difficult to discuss the subject of death and living wills it is really one of the most thoughtful favors you can do for your family. A conversation that is difficult and emotional now just becomes much more difficult and emotional later if your family finds themselves trying to decide what you would have wanted when a decision has to be made. Although a living will doesn’t make the experience of losing a loved one any easier, it does spare your family the turmoil, doubt and second guessing associated with having to do what they think is best when they don’t know what you would have thought was best.
So, do yourself and your family a difficult favor. Prepare your living will now and then discuss your wishes contained in the living will with your family now. The experience and the discussion will still be emotional but it will be much less emotional for everyone to prepare now rather than be unprepared later.