End-of-Life planning remains a daunting, unspoken challenge for most people. That’s why we started Passare My Life Conversations—a blog series that shares real-life stories of people dealing with the issues many of us are facing or will face at some point. We started with Tom’s story, and now Maya shares her experiences.
In this first of four posts, Maya, age 66 is grieving the death of her parents within six months of each other—and experiencing a wake-up call about her own mortality and why End-of-Life planning delivers peace-of-mind.
It’s hard to believe that 6 months ago both my parents were still alive, although both in poor health. Then, my mother passed away this February and my father followed less than six months later.
Neither of my parents had a plan for how to manage their End-of-Life matters. They wouldn’t even discuss death with us, as life always kept us them “too busy” with “better things to do,” as Mom would say. None of us dared bring up the subject of death for fear that talking about it would make it happen. However, when End-of-Life finally loomed, it was too late for them to make their own decisions or plans.
Their inaction about their inevitable mortality increased my sister’s and my grief exponentially as their health deteriorated. There were so many delicate, important decisions that weren’t made. We agonized over each one. We were so emotionally derailed from grieving our loss and processing our own complex parent/child dynamics that we could barely think straight. To make things worse, we received news that our beloved Aunt Selma was losing her battle with Alzheimer’s. When it rains, it really pours.
At least my cousin Rita had some warning. When Aunt Selma was first diagnosed, Rita sprang into action to organize and plan every detail my of Aunt’s healthcare, estate and future funeral. So when she called to express her condolences about my parents, I had an epiphany.
I explained to Rita that going through my own grief and seeing all she’d been through to ensure Aunt Selma’s End-of-Life care gave me clarity about one thing: I don’t want what happened to our parents to happen to my children. “I want to make all my own decisions now, while I am in good health,” I heard myself declare. “I can’t bear to think of my family making those difficult decisions. I want to decide my care and final services. I want to protect my hard-earned assets for my family. Planning for my End-of-Life is going to be my ultimate gift to my entire family.” It seemed a small price to pay for a lifetime of peace-of-mind.
My brave words gave me a sense of empowerment. Rita applauded my decisiveness and proactive thinking. I was still appreciating the temporary comfort of my resolve when I suddenly had an ominous thought: My determination to take a different path means I have to take action… now.
How and where would I start? I knew next to nothing about End-of-Life planning. And I was still grieving. The thought of revisiting mom and dad’s painful End-of-Life issues nearly undermined my resolve. Then it hit me, who better to help me plan than Rita? Together we would face the challenge our dear parents didn’t. Together we would leave a new, different legacy for our children and grandchildren.
Yes, Rita would be my guide. She’d help me sort out the necessary from the optional with the loving guidance she’d shown Aunt Selma. Thankfully, Rita agreed to help me begin my own End-of-Life plan. However just the concept of an End-of-Life plan seemed unfathomable and overwhelming. Where will we start? Visit www.passare.com next week to find out.