Dying well


CareLast week, I wrote about the incredible importance of a properly-drafted property power of attorney with the right person chosen to act. This week, I wanted to focus on care.

There has been a lot of discussion lately in Canada about end-of-life care; just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled that, in limited situations, doctors should be able to assist patients with ending their lives. Assisted suicide is a debate that has been going on for decades in this country and in other countries, and is not my subject for today, but it is related to the strong desire among most people to die with dignity.

Whenever I meet with clients to talk about powers of attorney for personal care, or living wills as they are sometimes known, I always ask them if they want specific instructions about end-of-life care. Some people don’t want anything, but most people want a directive of some sort. Usually, this means stating that, if they are not going to recover from the illness, they be allowed to die naturally.

Most of us fight hard to live, but there will come a time for all of us to die – as Ben Franklin said, death is one of only two sure things in life. Not having a plan in place, or not choosing a person who will follow that plan, will not make death go away. It will only make it more physically painful for you, and more emotionally painful for your loved ones. Make a plan.