I’d say that we all want to live forever, but that’s not quite true. I couldn’t stomach the thought. At least not the way things are now. Throw in paradise and it’s sounding a bit better. Anyway, whatever your feelings on eternal life (here or elsewhere) are, as things stand now there’s going to be a time when your life will end.
If you’re like one of my friends, it’ll happen when you least expect it, driving home from work. Everything will be over before you can say “boo.” She was only 22.
Or you are like my mom and have a terminal illness which means that you’re not really sure when it’s going to happen but you know that it’ll be within a few years.
Or you may be like me…maybe you have no clue when or how it’ll happen. Maybe tonight, maybe when I’m 95.
Or perhaps you just end up in a situation from which you may recover but you can’t speak for yourself.
I was talking with a friend a few months ago and she mentioned that she had just filled out something called the Five Wishes. It’s easy to fill out and helps you put things in order for a situation where you’ll be unable to communicate your own wishes. It’s a living will, but it goes beyond medical treatment to personal, spiritual, and emotional wishes.
From the site:
The Five Wishes document helps you express how you want to be treated if you are seriously ill and unable to speak for yourself. It is unique among all other living will and health agent forms because it looks to all of a person’s needs: medical, personal, emotional and spiritual. Five Wishes also encourages discussing your wishes with your family and physician.
Five Wishes lets your family and doctors know:
1. Which person you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them.
2. The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.
3. How comfortable you want to be.
4. How you want people to treat you.
5. What you want your loved ones to know.
The disadvantage is that it’s apparently only available through purchase. Maybe you can talk your HR into purchasing it. Or maybe you’d be ok with spending the $5 to get a copy. Or perhaps you can find a similar document…though 5 Wishes has the advantage of meeting legal requirements in 40 states. Here’s more information state-specific rules, a few states require you to be in a nursing home and such.
A PDF of the 5 Wishes is available here. The site says that it can’t be printed and is only available for preview. That seems true offhand, though I’ve found that tech savvy people can pretty much do whatever they want when they’ve gotten their hands on something. Or you can use it as a basis for your own document.
Free living wills may be available, for instance, in NOLO books at your library. I believe mine has them. You can probably make copies in the library itself. Just make sure it works for your state’s laws.
Some people don’t like to prepare for the inevitable because they worry about jinxes. We are all going to die someday. Setting this up isn’t really about death…it is about creating a better living situation for you and your family. Peace of mind for you now and when the time to use it comes, your loved ones will know what kind of care you want.
My mom has put together something similar which gives us some peace of mind because we know how she’d like to go when she’s going.
Thanks to Lazy Man for getting me thinking about this, Jean Chatzky for reminding me about the Five Wishes, and my friend Melissa for introducing me to the Five Wishes.
This is not a paid review, just something I’ve been thinking about these last few days.