Thoughtful Thursday: Plan

March 24, 2011

Thoughtful ThursdayCan’t write that much now, but the fact that this week’s question is rooted in my current reality should serve as a temporary explanation. More later.

Do your next of kin know your wishes about what you’d want in the event of catastrophic illness/injury? Extent of artificial life support, heroic measures, organ donation, preferences for death and post-death? If so, how did that come about? If not, why not?

Some people in my life don’t like to talk about death, as if merely having the discussion will draw death to you.

DH and I aren’t afraid of conversations drawing the Grim Reaper to us, and we’re both very pragmatic. I have particularly strong feelings about organ donation, having known a child stricken with a sudden random illness who waited and waited on the transplant list (and, thankfully, eventually got the organs and soon became a regular healthy kid again).

I had to formalize my living will when I was going under general anesthesia for my first IVF, then again at the local hospital when I almost gave birth very prematurely, then again at the big hospital later that day, then again before my C-section. The first one really freaked DH out — not the living will itself, but the idea that IVF carried enough risk that they had to ask questions about vegetative states and death.

Do your next of kin know your wishes about what you’d want in the event of catastrophic illness/injury? Extent of artificial life support, heroic measures, organ donation, preferences for death and post-death? If so, how did that come about? If not, why not?

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13 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Plan”

  1. WiseBursche Says:

    No.

    The topic of death (of either of us) has never cropped up in a regular discussion between me and DH. Death of either of us, has only come as a proxy to the kind of life insurance we purchase and what benefits would accrue to the immediate family.

    Why have we not discussed? Because it never struck any of us, really.

    My ILs have already filled a form for organ donation and cadaver donation post-death.

  2. WiseBursche Says:

    Hopefully nothing too serious is up at your end. Or maybe something serious is up.

    Take Care.

  3. figgymommy Says:

    Yup. When I was pregnant, we did a LOT of paperwork, since our marriage isn’t recognized and all of that. So we did our wills, and then living wills, and powers of medical attorney. It was really hard to do and talk about, but so important.

  4. Elana Kahn Says:

    My hubby and I never really talked about it, but I filled out my health care proxy form when I was pregnant and my driver’s license has the little “organ donor” heart on it. I do need to make up a real will one of these days – and encourage the hubby to do it too – but it seems so morbid to even talk about it, so we just don’t.

  5. Tara (TIMO) Says:

    Yes, Yes, Yes. Frankly I’m surprised at how many people don’t have these important documents.

    Both of our families know our wishes from conversations. It helps that we are the executors for both sets of parents. The door was already open because we talked about their wishes as well as our own. Also several of our grandmothers have been quite ill over the past year. The topic of their wishes (and family arguments because some of our grandmothers do not have those documents) spurred talking about all of our wishes.

    We drew up wills and healthcare proxies as soon as we were married and then updated them after the boys were born. We also updated all of our beneficiaries for other documents (insurance, IRAs, etc) at the same time. It helps that Nav is in the Air Force so these documents are required for him (and must be reviewed and updated if necessary when he deploys) and free for both of us to get done. I will admit that I just found the folder with our signed paperwork sitting in the “to-be filed” box and not in our safe. I need to scan it all and give copies to our families and the boy’s guardians. Though the scans won’t be official if something were to happen, they at least buy enough time for someone to get to Virginia (from Massachusetts) to get the originals.

    I hope that all is alright in your world.

  6. Gil Says:

    Yes… and no. Sort of. Let me explain.

    Here in Ontario, Canada, any document that is signed and witnessed regarding your wishes after death is a legal, binding document and as such, we drew ours up when we were driving out of town for the day (to consult for IVF #2) and leaving Petite with her caregiver til we returned that evening. So we have our wills done to a degree.

    Beneficiaries have been designated per workplace requirements (and spelled out in the wills as well).
    Organ donation is specified on my licence and donor card, carried with me in my wallet at all times and discussed with my family members as well… they too are organ donors so we’re comfortable with that.

    The one tip that I heard years ago and I like to pass along to others: make a folder somewhere in your personal documents (not online, a real, paper folder that is!) with “TO BE OPENED UPON MY DEATH” marked on it. Put all the pertinent information in that folder: wills, beneficiary info, donor card copies, numbers to bank accounts, family contact information, passwords to various online stuff, etc. That way, whoever is charged with dealing with your estate will have a point of reference to start from and get the ball rolling.

    These conversations are never easy, but after we had Petite, we knew that we needed to make our wishes known to someone, lest they get lost in the shuffle.

  7. strongblonde Says:

    B and I have discussed it. I think that he is actually more comfortable with it than I am. For everyone else I am able to seperate myself and really think about them more like a patient and more clinically.

    The conversation with my parents started when my dad’s mother died. She refused to be dropped off at the hospital and ended up dying at her home alone. She was very stubborn. My dad also still feels partially responsible for the death of his father b/c he was the one who stopped them from coding him a 4th time. They removed life support and he died within minutes. I think that he still feels like he “killed” him.

    I think that I’ve made it very clear about organ donation. I’m not sure why people don’t do it, frankly. What do you need with your organs after you’re gone??

    I really hope you’re okay. Pls email if there’s something I can help with!!

  8. celia Says:

    Yes, my Mom was on hospice and we all know what we want. We have not made our will yet because we only just decided who will get custody of Peter.

  9. Cat Says:

    Yes, my people know. And anyone who doesn’t have their will, living will, financial power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney will get an earful from me about why they need to do it RIGHT NOW.

    My husband and I had ours written in late 2005 when we were only 30 and 28, respectively. We didn’t own a house and hadn’t even started TTC, but we chose guardians and set up our finances for the kids we hoped to have. Our lawyer said we could either do it right away or wait until we actually had kids, but then we’d have to remember to change things and pay for the lawyer to change them. So we just did it all right away.

    We did all our documents because when my dad died suddenly, his only will was 21 years old and written before my youngest sister was born. He and my mother had since divorced, too, so it wasn’t really relevant anymore, which meant we knew nothing of his wishes except that he wanted to be cremated. Going through probate was such a long process, made even messier by my nut job of a mother/Dad’s ex-wife. We wanted to do everything we could to mitigate that for anyone we left behind.

    The only thing I think I might want to change was that I put my sister as my healthcare PoA if DH is unable to speak for me. She knows I don’t want any heroic measures taken if it means living in a vegetative state, but I feel badly saddling her with that. Like StrongBlonde says of her dad, I don’t want my sister to live with any guilt, feeling like she killed me. So I might change that.

    I even started thinking about my own funeral plans, but didn’t get very far. In our experience, even knowing the one thing – that Dad wanted to be cremated – was like a lifeline. At least we could do that one thing and know it’s what he wanted. The more of that I can do for my loved ones, the better.

  10. a Says:

    Aside from the organ donor thing on my driver’s license, I don’t have anything written down. I should, and I know it. My husband has a will, because the Army made him write one. We should probably update it. I know his burial wishes – free burial at a Veteran’s cemetary, and they’ll toss me in with him, so that’s mostly settled. Everything else is up in the air…

  11. Ana Says:

    We’re definitely talked about it, but need to have it legally written up, and do our wills too. I hope things are OK over there.

  12. Heather Says:

    I’ve made my intentions known about wanting to be an organ donor I don’t think my DH was that crazy about organ donation when we were newlyweds, but after so many years, he’s gotten to understand I don’t need them when I’m gone. Let others be able to live a better life. It’s a tough discussion, but we had to officially have it when our daughter was a baby and we finally wrote out our wills and living wills with our lawyer.


  13. We’ve discussed it to some extent, but have nothing written down.

    In Holland I had an organ donor card and in the US I had checked organ donor on my driver’s license, but here in France I still don’t have anything official (don’t know why really, just tried to figure out one day how to do that and it was way more complicated than in Holland or the US, so I got discouraged I guess, which is of course a bad thing, because more people should be organ donors in my opinion). But DH knows my wishes.

    We know that we don’t want any ‘futile medical interventions’ as they would say in Holland (and which is more or less standard practice there – but then again, not here in France).

    We don’t have a will – here in France the inheritance law goes above a will anyway. But it would be good to get at least a guardian for our child(ren) sorted. And I think we have to have a look at our insurances again too…

    Hope things are OK at your end.


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