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Preparing for loss

Published by 4Hope on 2005/1/22 (5383 reads)
No matter what age we are, none of us are immune to death. Featured on KEOM, here's a brief list of ideas to help prepare for our own death or the death of a loved one.

This was featured on the Community Focus program on KEOM 88.5FM. It was taped at the KEOM studios.

Preparing for Loss
February 18, 2004

Q:So, Barb, what are we talking about today?

A: Well, today I thought we would talk a little about grief and loss. We often provide support to families that have recently gone through the loss of someone very important to them. When speaking with these grieving folks, they often say, “You know, I thought I was prepared for this, but now I realize that I wasn’t.” Certainly, that’s the experience of most people. I don’t think that there’s any way to be prepared for the death of someone who has been deeply loved. While we can be prepared on an intellectual level for a death, there is usually some very deep sense in which the actual occurrence leaves us feeling kicked in the gut, emotionally. We may be prepared on other levels, but that level almost always leaves us feeling caught up short.

Q: What are the ways in which we can be prepared?

A: That’s a great question. Unfortunately, because we are such a death denying culture, we often tend to avoid thinking about death and thereby making any plans for that eventuality. So, here’s some things that can and should be done by each individual hearing us today. Some of these things we have spoken about before, but they bear repeating. First, each person should make sure that they have BOTH a Living Will, now called a Directive to Physicians, and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. On those documents each person should state what they would and would not want to have done in the event of a terminal illness, an accident from which they could not recover, or in the case where they cannot make decisions for themselves. Which leads us to another thing that needs to be written: we should name the person we DO want to make decisions on our behalf. In fact, the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care is designed to designate someone for the purpose of making these decisions.

Q: It seems like it would be important to discuss this with your family as well.

A: Absolutely. When making these decisions, you should discuss them with your family so that it is entirely clear to everyone what your wishes are and who you want to have make them for you. We have seen families deeply and irrevocably divided over matters that were not discussed and documented. Indeed, the recent situation involving Terri Schaivo in Florida is a good illustration of the tragic results that happen when individuals do not take steps to address these issues well beforehand.

Q: What else can we do to prepare?

A: Another way to prepare is to make arrangements with a funeral provider. Now, some folks may feel like this is intolerably morbid. But, I regularly hear from loved ones how grateful they are that mom or dad or a husband, “made all the arrangements years ago.” “I never imagined how much that would help me right now,” they say. Certainly, the time after a loss is already so full of pain that the thought of having to make decisions about arrangements is exceedingly painful and arduous. Indeed, much money is wasted because folks can’t think so clearly and end up spending much more than they otherwise would. We might also add that you should do careful research before signing up for a pre-need plan, as they are called. Some of them are very imbalanced in what they promise and what they deliver. The best bet is to speak with an organization that you trust well in advance of need.

Q: Is there anything else that we can do to prepare?

A: Absolutely. And, this is the most important thing: Leave no doubt in the minds of those that you love how much you love them!

Tags: loss   preparation   funeral  

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