Advance Directives for End of Life Care: Gifts to Give and Receive

Advance Directives for End of Life Care: Gifts to Give and Receive

If there was a way to get something you want and give a gift at the same time, would you consider it? An Advance Directive for end of life care achieves this.

Have you ever wanted to call the shots and lay out how you want things to go? And be reinforced for doing so? How about if the Giver gets a gift, too, and the Receiver gets one that can last for years. Would you be interested? 

April 16 is National Healthcare Decision Day (NHDD). It’s the perfect time to create an Advance Directive for end of life care. Here’s how this gift-thing works, how to give and how to receive. 

Relative to healthcare,  Advance Directives are about figuring out what you want and telling someone. It’s about telling them and tasking them with carrying out what you want.

To me, an Advance Directive is the most important document you may ever consider, more important than a will. My Advance Directive for end of life care enables me to put into play the one thing I’ve learned that most of us want.

Simply put, most of us want “to have a say about how things will go and where will end up.”  This is a quote from a friend named Dee who’d simply uttered it, in the middle of a thought. At that moment I had that tumblers-fall-into-place and a lock-opened experience. Then and there I knew it to be true for me, and for many.

Polls and personal experience tell us that many as we age will fear losing our independence and our control. We want to make the decisions and have things go our way. Because of this fear many of us avoid talking about healthcare or legal matters and exploring our options.  We do not discuss our power, if you will. We likely avoid asking questions, questions whose very answers can result in fulfillment, satisfaction and peace. 

But think about it. By way of some thought and decision and then conveyance of our wishes can indeed be exactly how we will take care of ourselves. We control and retain our independence and we have that say (about how things will go and where we’ll end up). We can direct our Team (that we select!) by use of a written document – an Advance Directive for end of life care – which we ourselves set forth.

It takes only a little thought and effort to learn what our options are and decide upon what we want. Then we put it on paper. Then we convey it to someone who we trust will implement our plans and carry out our wishes. It’s that simple.

My Experience with Advance Directives for End of Life Care

I tell a longer version of my impactful story of my family’s planning but here’s the quick one. Having been called to my parent’s home one night for a mysterious meeting, I found myself at the dining room table with them, their attorney, their financial professional, and my sister and brother-in-law. There, seated with my parents and their Team, we daughters were brought in on The Plan. Mom, Dad and their Team laid out and fully explained their planning and the wishes of our parents. We daughters learned of our roles as Agents through the Power of Attorney documents and discussed what my parents’ Living Wills indicated that day. We’d come back together if anything were to change or require change (and change did occur for us).

We each agreed to fill out a Five Wishes document and return for another family meeting. That document turned out to be both an educational and thought-provoking exercise as well as a vehicle for making our wishes known among one another. We set our intention to “same page” and to revisit. “Talk Early, Talk Often,” we’d always heard.

Later when care decisions were needed my sister and I relied upon that meeting and referenced our parents’ Advance Directives for end of life care. They had shown us what to do, what they had envisioned what they wanted. We were to be their Agents to make that happen. We knew and understood our duties.

Ultimately we Agents were called into action. We made decisions with, and later for, our parents in accordance with what they had planned and shared. Here come the gifts:

Gift One: What a gift for our parents, to themselves and to each other as spouses to take this action!

Gift Two: What a gift for us daughters so we would know what they wanted, know what to do and would know their Team. We could feel steadfast in decisions. We had Go-To’s for support and  clarification.

Gift Three: Our parents got another gift from this planning. Because they knew their daughters were doing what they wanted, they each felt comfortable, peaceful. Baton passed. 

Gift Four: (and the remaining gift that still gives and sustains, today and every day?) My sister and I know we did our jobs to the best of our ability. It wasn’t perfect but it was done with honor, drawing from the ability and knowledge that we had at the time. We carried out their wishes and executed their Plan. Our parents got the work done through us. 

Today we recognize the gifts and we have one more to carry forward in life:

Gift Five: Our own honor and peace. We’ve learned by example and by doing. We also learned what to consider – as we consider – our own instructions for our Advanced Directives.

A little thought, some documentation and conveyance is all it takes “to have a say in how things will go and where we’ll end up.” This is the pathway to the gifts. Gifts to ourselves and for another, to be given, received it and put into play. And that last gift that results in long-lasting peace and honor?  Well, I can’t put a price on that. 

April 16 of every year is National Healthcare Decision Day. It is a time that reminds us to get our affairs in order. Create your Advance Directives. Get and give the gifts that are available to us all.

Let’s discuss how you may plan to “have a say about how things will go and where you’ll end up.” CONNECT WITH US and schedule a complimentary consultation by visiting or by calling 919.628.4428 today.

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