Waiting for God

Preparing for Death

Preparing a death plan is similar to planning your retirement.  It is a good idea to meet with an end-of-life consultant or death doula who can lead you through the death process, just like it is a good idea to consult a financial planner when planning for retirement.  

In a society that does not openly discuss death, we often come to a stage where it will be important to discuss and write down what the preferred death process is.  Do you want to be surrounded by friends and family?  What would you like done to your body?  Are you prepared for the day when you become dependent on somebody else to coordinate your life and ensure a safe, secure and as pleasant as possible death?  Are you now responsible for a dependent senior’s end of life, but there is no plan? 

Losing somebody you love is hard.  There is no way to eliminate the sadness and the sense of loss.  It is a time of emotional strain and there is no way around that.  It is part of life’s journey.   Adding the burden of decision making to those you love adds to the negativity and causes family members to get upset with one another.   

Death’s plans relieve undo strain and emotional burden to all experiencing the end of a life; both for the dying person and their community of care. 

What is a death plan? 

Death planning is almost exactly like birth planning.   There are many scenarios that can pan out, and if a community of care is not prepared, the end of life can be rather unpleasant for all involved.  However, with a plan, your community of care has a map to follow.  

Death plans are a way to make sure everybody is aware of your dying wishes.  They look at all the aspects of death and allow you to lay out your desires under different possible situations.  Most people do not die the way they would like to.  When situations don’t go our way, having an alternative solution or two on hand can help you and your community of care through that time. 

They have peace of mind, and you have peace as the person transitions to the next phase of your existence. 

There are physical, emotional and spiritual needs, as well as the needs related to the community of care.  What do they need to be effective and not be put under undue emotional strain.

The plan should ideally be done in dialogue with the community of care.  Nobody dies alone, and so it is best that any decisions made have the community of care agreement to the terms, and each person understands their respective roles.  All answers should be written down and shared with the community of care.  

Plans should cover the following topics. 

  • Overview of physical condition and what to expect medically (if applicable)
    • Share feelings regarding the death and caregiving needs
    • Who will make decisions (e.g., financial, medical, hiring a caregiver, etc.) and how will they be made?
    • Who will be responsible for coordinating the life of the dying person
    • What are the dying persons wishes with respect to:
      • Daily caregiving needs
      • Living arrangements (e.g., Assisted living versus in-home), and what do to if desired arrangements are not possible.
      • How much time does each family member have to visit?
      • Other ways each person can help? What other help might be available?
      • How much will it cost
      • How much work can family members afford to miss?
      • What financial help might be available from outside?
    • What support role does each person want to play, understanding their own needs.  Click here for an end-of-life needs matrix.
    • Help with meals, shopping, cleaning, laundry, etc.
        • Emotional support by telephone, video call, etc.
        • Help with chores and errands (Taking the care recipient to doctor’s appointments
    • How will the caregiving and support needs change as the journey to death progresses?