What we don’t learn at home about the logistics and benefits of self-empowerment through end-of-life care planning, we are even less likely to learn at school, in the workplace or in our house of worship. When it comes to writing the final script of our lives, clearly one of our most important, we are more often than not simply left to our own solitary devices.
But how can this be when we are learning how to write almost every other kind of script, for every other stage in our lives? How does this make sense? Why does one of the most important narratives of our mortal lives receive such neglect by our society?
I think we can all agree that our fierce stubbornness to avoid the end-of-life conversation at all costs is not that unusual, but it is certainly not a very helpful strategy for a successful plan of action. So how does one go about learning the craft of writing their final script? Where does one begin? The task can feel overwhelming, and because of that, it is often postponed until it is too late – another missed opportunity.
There are a few things to remember once an individual decides to author their final script. The first thing to remember (and this is important) is that no one has the right to hijack another person’s story. The script one chooses to write belongs to the person writing it. Exploring options and ideas with family, friends and professionals can be extremely helpful and affirming, but the script is still ultimately owned by the author.
The second important thing to remember is that decisions and conversations are ongoing and can be reversed, respected and reversed again. It is an evolution of dialogue with one’s self, and with those we love. Indecision is normal and does not necessarily signify a lack of desire to build the best path. What works best at one point in time for someone may radically change at another.
The last and most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong answer. This is not a test. It is a process of self exploration, clarification and visioning. And it’s helpful to remember that the end-of-life care planning conversation belongs to anyone who wants to have it – family, friends, physicians, nurses, faith leaders and, yes, even children.