The end of life can be a stressful time for the dying and their loved ones. I can help you understand what to expect throughout the process, and act as an advocate for you with the many professionals you will encounter during this time.
The rest of your life can be some of the most meaningful days you have ever lived. You matter. You have a story to share and likely have accumulated a life of memories, ups and downs, successes and failures, and joy and sorrow. You touched people’s lives and they touched yours. All of this matters, too. How do you want to finish your life? What does finishing well or peacefully mean to you? Let’s discuss all of this and make a plan.
If you wish, this is the time to be prepared for your final days, while also remembering that you are still very much alive.
In addition, we can discuss everyday wishes for your environment, comfort, rest, noise, visitors, scents, music, boundaries, and more. We can plan for addressing people entering your home, including family and caregivers, in order to maintain consistent care and to assure that your wishes are respected at all times, up until your final days and even through your memorial service, burial or cremation, celebration of life or whatever you choose.
Often as part of planning for a legacy and for your final days, things will come up that you may wish to address or discuss. I am available and trained to help you with a life review, which may include discussions of your past relationships, careers, or general stories from your life. During this time, I can also assist you if you happen to encounter some emotions such as anger, regrets, unfinished business, unresolved conflicts or fears. Sometimes you need to talk to someone, or forgive someone, or maybe someone may need to forgive you. We have learned that releasing negative emotions often clears space for peace and tranquility in your final days.
On the other hand, we have also learned that expressing positive emotions is a way to bring those you love closer. Expressing gratitude, love, and having deep, honest conversations can help create a beautiful, open, loving atmosphere to share your final time with family and friends.
Sometimes, the most important person you need to forgive is yourself. Any and all of this can be part of a life review.
I will assist you in planning for and honoring your wishes for your surroundings and needs over your final days. This may include choosing a location that is comfortable and meaningful for you, including the lighting or candles in the room, music or sounds you will want to listen to, what special treasures or photographs you may want close to you, what scents, products for skin care, books or poetry you would like read to you, and everything involved in preparing for your final hours to be as peaceful, sacred and meaningful as possible, based on what matters to you .
Additionally, we will plan for visitors, who you wish to have with you and how you want to receive these people into your space to maintain your sense of peace, relaxation and comfort.
More and more people are choosing to participate fully in their dying process, including making plans for how they will be remembered immediately after their death and beyond. During this time of planning, we can also discuss your wishes for after your death including caring for your body, burial or cremation options, and celebrating your life with a service, if you choose.
At times, you may get lonely or want to talk to someone other than your loved ones. You may want someone to take you to the grocery store or for a walk. Some days you may want someone to read to you or to simply sit by your side in silence. We have companioned people who want someone to watch Jeopardy with, or a football game on TV. Companionship takes many forms and I am open to exploring ideas for all your everyday needs to be met.
Another consideration is that, sometimes when you are constantly surrounded by family and friends, it begins to take an emotional toll on you. The anticipatory grief can be overwhelming and also exhausting for someone trying to stay peaceful and calm for their final journey. If you need time to be still with your thoughts and feelings, but also need someone to be with you, I can show up and be still and silent, too.
At times, your family members may need some rest and just need to sleep in another room, but do not want to leave you alone. Perhaps you are bedridden or require ongoing medication or care. Often, you and your family will feel more comfortable when there is someone with you at all times, and a schedule may be created for shifts to insure someone is there around the clock. Since it may not always be possible to have a family member or friend there to be with you, I can fill those gaps, too.
Many people choose to create a sacred or special setting for their transition to take place. Once this is created and the person’s wishes are honored, this often becomes a peaceful place for the family to gather. When your time comes near for transition, you have the opportunity to also choose who you want in the room, perhaps holding your hand, reading to you, caring for your needs or just being present in your room. A transition time can last for hours or days, and it is helpful to plan for this time so that those who are present know how to serve and love you best.
I am available if you want me to be there for you during this time of vigil. We can take shifts, with family members and friends, even during the middle of the night, to ensure that you are comfortable and to allow your loved ones to get some rest. I am trained to understand the signs and symptoms involved in the active dying process, and know from experience that it is comforting and reassuring to have someone sitting with you to help to provide comfort and relieve anxiety, pain and worry.
Most, if not all, of the services we provide for after death care will have already been discussed with you. I am here to be sure your stated wishes are carried out and to support your loved ones who may want to process early grief.
After your death, we will continue to honor you and treat you with respect and dignity. I am available for assisting your family with caring for your body in whatever way you have decided, including washing, dressing, anointing with oil, or whatever you have requested. I am available for contacting family and friends as needed, writing your obituary, creating a gathering space in your home, or planning a service, funeral, or memorial. I can also offer to meet with your family after some time passes to reprocess their early grief, discuss bereavement and offer support as needed. I always welcome and am honored to have a final meeting of closure with family members to express gratitude and insights about the journey I have completed with you, and your loved ones.
Medical aid in dying is a trusted and time-tested medical practice that allows a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with a prognosis of six months or less to live to request from their doctor a prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully in their sleep. Currently, the states of Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, Montana, as well as the District of Columbia, have authorized the compassionate option of medical aid in dying, allowing one in five people to have access.
I have worked with families through this difficult but profound process.