I tend to think about end of life care frequently because of the exposure that I receive when I volunteer at Our Community House of Hope. While I am taking care of the patients on hospice there I can’t help but think how lucky the are to be in such a loving environment when so many other patients die in long-term care facilities or in the hospital, usually with no one around. I take care of the patients like they are my family because it is hard to not think about that person in bed being one of your grandparents, parents, brother, sister, etc.
Recently my grandmother passed away and I can’t help but think about her death and how she did not suffer from any physical ailment until the day she died because her heart gave up. When discussing her death with my family we have all concluded that she died in the best way possible, besides being in a hospital in which my mother will never forgive herself for not taking her back home when she asked her to. One thing that I do think about and it did not cross anyone else’s mind in the family is that she was a DNR and she was still resuscitated in the hospital because my grandfather verbally stated to do anything they could to save her. I often wonder whom I would pick to make my decisions if I were unable. You have to be able to trust that they will do what you wish them to do.
After she passed my family and I had a long conversation about advanced directives and how important they are to have. Neither of my parents have an advance directive and it worries me. I know what they want if there needed to be a decision made but without them having a durable power of attorney I know my siblings would fight me on the issue. I also know that my siblings would not be able to make the decision that my parents would want.
I do believe that culture plays a significant role in death and dying. I believe some cultures deal with death significantly better than Americans. Americans tend to not think about death and seem to grieve for long periods of time. I am an American and I definitely grieved over my grandmother but I believe that death should be a celebration of life. Celebrate the person’s life and reminisce of the person that they were and the lives that they touched. Death is part of the life cycle and even though people are missed it should not be such a sad, horrifying event. I also witness that death is rarely about the person who died but about the family that is left behind.