Passing Away With Dignity

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It takes a deep level of self-exploration to make an End-of-Life plan. We want to share the story of a couple whose mutual love and respect inspired them to embrace the conversation together.
The story recounts the journey of Judy O’Dwyer and her late husband Jim who were well prepared to honor one another in every stage of their lives. The O’Dwyers are in the minority when it comes to being prepared for End-of-Life, a 2013 Pew Research Center poll found just 37 percent of Americans have thought about their End-of-Life options.

When Jim was diagnosed with lymphoma, the couple revisited their Advance Directives to make sure the documents still followed their wishes. “Jim said he wanted to be pain free. I promised him that,” Judy said. Jim’s Advance Directive became critical when he developed dementia. When he could not make decisions for himself; Judy knew what to do.

“Decisions shouldn’t be made when you’re in the hospital,” said Rev. Ann Lantz who has seen firsthand the heartache when family members disagree. When decisions are not made in advance, it’s chaos.” Lantz believes aggressive intervention can, “interrupt the natural dying process and prolong it.” And the facts are until consensus is reached with the family, “We keep going with traditional medical care.”

This was not the case for Jim. A week before he passed, he was rushed to the hospital. The ER doctor said, “‘Jim could die.’ I said, ‘I understand that.’” Judy said she pulled up a copy of Jim’s Advance Directive and hours later he was moved to hospice care. Six days later he passed away with his family at his side.

Remembering her promises to Jim she reflected, “It was a dignified and lovely way to die.” Read the story here.

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