“Is death a friend or an enemy, to be acquiesced to or to be fought? American medicine is simply not sure about the answer to that question.”
Frustrated mastery—The cultural context of death in America. West J Med 1995; 163:226-230.
Complete your own advanced directive (MOLST form here). Discuss with your family and friends your wishes. What kind of emotions did it bring? Did your family want to have this discussion? Studies show that many seniors say their children don’t want to talk about end of life issues. Their children, in turn, say their parents don’t want to talk about death. Did you find challenging the idea of predicting the future? What you would want done for some unknown disease with unknown treatments? How did you frame the discussion? As discrete scenarios, or as values? What makes life meaningful for you? What life events give you the most joy? Ethical, religious, spiritual beliefs? What do you value most about your physical and mental well being? Fears about end of life? Acceptable burdens and minimal acceptable quality of life? Under what conditions would life become unbearable? If you could plan the last day of your life, what would it look like? Who do you feel would most object, if any, to your end of life wishes?
(adapted, in part, from Caring Conversations Workbook, Center for Practical Ethics, Kansas City, MO)