There are two kinds of people in this world. There are the over-sharers (me) and then under-sharers (my husband). He literally never has to wonder what I am thinking or what I’ve done throughout the day because I tell him before he asks, even if he may not want to know. Of course that doesn’t cross my mind, because of course he wants to know. Why wouldn’t he?
He, on the other hand, only shares the bare essentials. For me to get him to talk about his day is practically like pulling teeth. Where did you go today? Who did you see? Anything exciting happen at work? Did you hear from your cousin? How are your aunts? What are we doing this weekend? What did you have for lunch? What do you want for dinner? Are we taking the dog for a walk? Can we go to the gym? Do you want to try that new winery in town? What did your dad say when you talked to him? Did you call your mom? Were the dogs out? Did they eat? Oh. My. God. I’m sure it’s exhausting for him, but I could talk all day… and I do.
Okay, I realize that what I do for a living significantly affects the way I feel about a lot of things. Aside from the fact that I over share everything with everyone, and that no topic makes me feel uncomfortable, I have to take a step back to remember that not everyone is so liberal with their sharing and may not be as willing to dive into an uncomfortable conversation as I am. That’s not to say that I can’t easily carry you through one of these discussions, because I am confident that I can.
But what I’ve found is that, in America, we are very afraid of death and dying. It is not something that we focus on, talk about or even plan for most times. It is uncomfortable and upsetting. But, I don’t think it should be.
In fact, last night while we were walking into the gym, I started asking my husband what expenses he would need to cover if I passed away. Of course we came up with my college loans, my car payment and my funeral expenses. So I totaled up the amount and said, “Maybe I should take out a life insurance policy for that amount” while signing in at the desk. He and the attendant at the desk just looked at me.
Then, as we walked over to hang our keys, I proceeded to say that if I am ever in a hospital with the expectation that there is no hope, I want him to take me off of all life support and let me go. I said, “I don’t care if you have a viewing- I guess if people want one you can have one, but I’d like you to donate my organs and then cremate me and keep me in a nice vase.”
He again just looked at me. I said “no, seriously. That’s what I want.” He promised to try to take me off of life support even if I was expected to live and bring a girlfriend to my viewing. Thanks honey.
Now, of course I realize that this is an extreme example. I also realize that it is crazy at 26 to be thinking that I need a ranch house so that when I can no longer do the steps, I won’t have a problem. But that is how my mind works.
It’s also crazy to know that I want a caregiver to care for me in my home until that is no longer safe and have a list of the personal care homes and nursing homes I would want to go to if ever that were the case. I also know who all of my possessions would go to, but that’s beside the point. My point is that we don’t talk about this stuff because it’s uncomfortable. But we should talk about it, and it shouldn’t be uncomfortable.
I think we all have an idea of how we prefer things to be done, from folding the laundry to washing the dishes to cleaning the house. No one does these things exactly like we do. But while we can do them, we know that they will be done the way we prefer. What will happen when we can no longer do those things? We will either need assistance doing them, or someone will have to come in and do them for us.
Since we all want to remain autonomous and independent for as long as possible, isn’t it important that someone knows our wishes and will carry them out to the best of his ability? The answer is yes. How do we make that happen? We make a road map. We talk to our family and friends and support network and discuss what our wishes are and how we plan to make them happen. We should all expect some variation in the plan, but as long as all of the involved parties know our wishes, we can expect things to go as planned within reason.
The problem with only thinking about a plan and not sharing it, is that no one knows what to expect, what they are responsible for or how to help meet your goals. If you have a child or a few children, it is important that they each know your wishes and that you discuss how comfortable each one is with contributing to those wishes. Does one child plan to have you come live with them when you can no longer live alone? Is one child planning to move into the family home and care for you? Is one child able to pay for some hours with a care giver? Can one child cook, clean and prepare meals for you while another one manages your finances? Are you going to put your home in a trust now and have it deeded to one or all of the children after you pass away? What is your plan and how will it affect the people in your lives?
I’ve already told my mom that if she has a plan, I don’t care what it is, but she better tell me. And if she doesn’t have a plan, we better make one. I don’t want things to fall apart at the last minute. If the ability to make decisions for yourself is important to you now, it will always be important to you. Why risk putting the decision making task in someone else’s hands if you can prevent that now?
If you haven’t figured it out already, I have a plan for my mom. And thankfully, she is happy with it and luckily for me, she was willing to talk about it. I don’t want any surprises. I want to know what to do if something happens to her. And I think she wants that for me too.
Come talk to us about your wishes. We can help you and your family set up a plan for your future. What do you want and how will that affect your support system? Call us today to discuss your future.