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Death is not a topic many people enjoy talking or thinking about, particularly when it's their own death. People generally live most of their lives being vaguely aware of their mortality, but hoping or assuming death is so far in the future that giving it much thought is pretty pointless. That all changes when you're venturing into serious old age, are diagnosed with a terminal illness, or have a medical condition that is predicted to shorten your lifespan.
How do you go about preparing for your own death? Some people prefer to live to the fullest while they can, essentially denying the future.
For others, however, the process of preparing for death is soothing. Doing so can ensure your most important wishes are known and honored, take pressure off your loved-ones, and be cathartic for you. These pointers should get you started in your thinking process.
Fixing Relationships And Saying All You Want To Say
The process of dying gives you the chance to say things you may have left unsaid if you didn't know what was coming. Have you ever lost a loved-one, only to be left with many questions? Questions about a deceased loved-one's life, opinions, and feelings can leave those who survive scratching their heads eternally. Answering them now can be extremely healing for all those involved.
Inviting everyone, from estranged siblings to children, and those you may have wronged or those that wronged you, to old friends and distant relatives, is something to consider. Talking openly, expressing the full range of your feelings, is an opportunity available to you now. You may also decide to write people letters, rather than talking to them in person, but dialogue is something that may solve some long-held mysteries for you too.
Some people find their impending death so hard to cope with that they shut people they love out. You may be in denial, or angry, or just tired of living. Thinking about what you really want can be helpful at this stage. Be aware that your own emotions regarding dying may be getting in the way of your communication with others, and decide how you truly want to handle this stage of life.
Choosing A Hospice
Hospice care is one of the most comforting, supportive ways in which anyone can spend their last days, should dying at home not be a viable option. Not all hospices were created equally though. Choosing a hospice yourself, while you are still able to do so, can make the end of your life more meaningful and pleasant. Here are a list of questions to consider while choosing a hospice:
- What do others say about this hospice? Talk to hospitals, care homes, people whose loved-ones have been cared for in the hospice, and even look online to see what others' impressions are.
- Is the hospice accredited and licensed (where necessary)? This ensures a standard of care.
- Can the hospice meet your particular needs, and what role is your family expected to play during your stay there?
- What is the full range of care offered by the hospice?
- Where possible (and it should be!), tour the hospice and talk to current residents. Get a general feel of the place. Chat with the staff. Make sure you feel good there.
- What crisis-response strategies are in place? Are the staff certified in palliative care?
- Are bereavement services available?