If you or I were suddenly in an accident or became ill and incapacitated, who would speak for us?
That’s a very important question, but not one that’s easy to face when we’re healthy and life seems to stretch out before us.
I’ve recently joined the Community Advisory Board of Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement with the view to supporting their work to promote the value of planning our end-of-life choices. I believe in this mission.
We’re promoting the value of asking this question: If you and I were suddenly in an accident or became ill, who would speak for us?
Our aim is to “normalize conversations about end-of-life health care and to increase the number of people in our city and county who have advance directives on file.”
To this end, we are promoting End of Life Choices: “an advance care planning process to help us, over the course of our lives, to understand, reflect upon and discuss goals, values, and beliefs for end of life health care.”
Advance Directives are the written plans by which we communicate our choices to our loved ones and to our doctors. Advance Directives make life much easier for all concerned, taking a burden from your loved ones and from doctors and other medical professionals who need to know our wishes and desires to do the right thing in our case.
It is important to act now, while we are healthy, to choose a health care agent – a person you authorize to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated. It is important to choose the medical care you want at the end of your life, and to indicate what medical care you don’t want.
If we don’t make these Advance Directives, we can be sure that others will decide for us what care we receive.
The caring thing to do is to make our own plans in advance, becoming part of a community of caring. A community of caring is one in which we all know what to expect of each other, having informed one another.
Over the next several years Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement will attempt to equip this community with the resources we need to become this caring community.
I invite you to explore the website of Whatcom Alliance for Healthcare to further explore the end-of-life resources they are making available to our community. There’s something in there for you, whether you are looking for Community Education Events, Advance Directives, or a handy Workbook with resources to help you organize your entire effort.
Advance Directives are only part of the picture of your end-of-life planning, of course. I also recommend the Life Planning Manual provided by our Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, which will help you coordinate all your end-of-life planning . There’s information in here to help you plan a funeral service, make a will, and organize your documentation in one place.
Finally, if you don’t make a plan for your estate, the State will do that for you. That’s not what you or I want to happen. Our Diocese of Olympia has a terrific resource for Planned Giving. If you want help from St. Paul’s with any of this, please contact one of the Clergy and we will do whatever we can to help you.
May God bless us all as we give thanks for the gift of life and make prudent plans to become a more caring community.