“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon
I’ve always loved planning trips, for myself and my family. I enjoy researching cities, countries, train routes and schedules, and cheap flights of course! In fact, the planning is half the fun. It gives us something to focus on, to anticipate. I still over pack though – every time. Is that part of my enthusiastic planning or is it simply indecisiveness?
I have also had experience of planning and coordinating several fundraising campaigns and events over the past 15 years. I was even planning for my retirement by taking some additional courses which would enable me to tutor English as a Foreign Language part-time. Planning is part of my DNA! Well not really, but you know what I’m trying to say.
It was only when I embarked on my journey as an end of life doula, that I realised I had missed out a very important plan! I should have thought about it earlier, when my late husband suffered brain damage from chemo at 49 and was unable to speak until his death at the age of 50. In those last few months, I did try to ask him what he wanted to happen at the end of his life, but it was too late to have a meaningful conversation. In the event, I just had to do what I thought was best for our family. That was a lot of pressure, and I regret that he and I had not talked about it earlier in our marriage. We didn’t know what lay ahead.
Fast forward 10 years, and now I understand what plans could have been in place for my husband had we talked about it in time. In Ontario, we have something called an Advance Care Plan, which is a document resulting from conversations regarding your priorities and values in life. This is for reference, rather than a legal document, and can be revised at any time in the future. Once you have identified your SDM (substitute decision maker who will advocate for you if you cannot), you can use your core values as a basis for choosing what physical/mental limitations would be tolerable or unacceptable to you, and even what a “good death” might look like eg. Free from pain, a calm environment, presence of close family, favourite music……
Creating an Advance Care Plan is a gift to yourself and to your family. Having one in place will enable you to live life to the fullest, knowing that, if the unthinkable happens, they will know what to do. They will not have the extra burden of wondering what you would have wanted, and they will have had a chance to talk it over with you before it ever happens.
Click here to check out the ACP workbook from Speak Up Ontario. I am also a trained ACP facilitator and would be happy to help you create a personalized Plan to be shared with your family. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text me at 905 806 5040.