PLEASE READ- TIME TO TALK, NOT TO FEAR
Dear Friends and Family,
This was not easy to write and may be harder to read, but I hope that you do. As we all know, we are in the beginning of a pandemic.The worst case scenario of the coronavirus is a 3.5% fatality rate. We know that it is most likely to effect the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions, and we we know that we need to be careful to decrease transmission.
While this situation is frightening and unprecedented, it is also an opportunity for us to think rather than react. It is also an opportunity to have necessary conversations around how we want to live and, ultimately, how we want to die. Doing so will help us plan so that we can act out of purpose and choice rather than fear. Some very important questions to consider come to mind:
-What are we going to do when we and the ones we love get the virus?
-What kind of aggressive treatment or life support (if any) do we want if we or loved ones who haven’t made these decisions become very sick?
-How can we make choices that are in the best interest of our loved ones, respecting their wishes, if they are very sick?
-What do we value most? Is it safety? Autonomy? Connection? How can we design our end of life to be true to these values?
-What legacy and lessons do I want to leave for my loved ones in this historic time?
-What kind of experience do we want for our loved ones who are in nursing homes and institutions, especially if they are nearing the end of their lives? What treatments are warranted and humane? Is safety the most important thing for them at this time?
I spoke with a dear friend whose mother is 83 and works at a department store. The family’s initial advice was to tell her to stay home, to hunker down. “Does she like working at the store?” I asked. “Oh, she loves it! It gives her purpose,” my friend replied. I hope that this woman can answer the questions above with her loved ones to help guide her to the right path forward for her, a path that maximizes her dignity, joy, and quality of life, even in these challenging times. The truth is that none of us know how long we have and every moment that we are here matters. We can consider living fully, autonomously and as safe as possible.
These conversations are challenging and take courage, but we are brave enough to do so. We are brave enough to weather these challenging times and to grow from them, whatever challenges may lie ahead. We must act from a place of love, presence, and connection, and respect.
I wrote “How to Live Forever: A Guide to Writing the Final Chapter of Your Life Story” without ever wanting to be an author or planning to write a book. It was a calling. Now, more than ever, I am glad that I answered that calling. The book will help you talk about these things and more. I would give them away if I could, and I’ve given away as many as I can. Please consider reading it, to help you have these difficult and necessary conversations.
More and more, I'm hearing of loved ones who provide most of the care for their friends and families, who live in assisted living, nursing homes and other institutions and they are unable to reach them to help. This is heartbreaking. We need to think this through. We can do better! We need to think of quality of life, particularly near the end of life.
Like #Nashvillestrong we are #Americastrong and #Worldstrong.
With love and respect and hope,
Kim Best RN, MA Conflict Management
"How to Live Forever: A Guide to Writing the Final Chapter of Your Life Story. bestconflictsolutions.com howtoliveforeverbook.com