We are all going to die
I was a nurse for fifty years and I have seen hundreds of people die. I know what death looks like. I have held their hands and I have thumped their chests. And I have comforted those that have loved them.
And I know what matters to me when I think about my own end-of-life. Over many years I have heard that most people are not afraid of being dead but they are afraid of dying.
I want to do what I can to alleviate that fear.
As far as possible, I want to be in control of my end-of-life decisions.
I have had a fabulous life, full of love and fun, but I’m seventy now. Right now I am fit and healthy but I know that death will come to me. Many people that I have listened to over the years would, if they had the choice, die in their sleep in their own bed. A luxury that many of us don’t get.
Why I’ve made an advance decision (living will)
This is why I’ve decided to complete an advance decision (living will), because I do not want my life prolonged in any way. I do not want to die with someone performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In my long career as a nurse, I have never been at a successful attempt to restart someone’s heart and to me, that’s not dignified.
I want to have quality of life over quantity. I realise that not everyone thinks like this – but for me, it’s really important.
If a time comes in the future when I no longer have capacity to make decisions relating to my treatment and care, I want to ensure my wishes are known about and respected. I have appointed my daughter as my lasting power attorney (LPA) for health and welfare and talked my wishes through with her. My three boys are all very aware of my wishes and they all have copies of my advance decision form too.
I have printed a copy of my advance decision and given it to my GP – and she has, brilliantly, discussed it with me and completed a ReSPECT form. She has put all this on her system and logged it with my local ambulance service.
Why I’m sharing my story with you
The peace of mind that this has given me is wonderful. It has enabled me to write my will, my funeral plan and appoint LPAs for finance. It’s as ‘sorted’ as it can be. My children know what to do, what decisions to make and they know that this has been planned rationally and with long held beliefs.
It has also meant that I can talk openly with my grandchildren. I have said, more than once, ‘Remember today and the fun we have had. When I’m not around anymore – don’t be sad – think of these times and be happy that we had so many lovely adventures together.’
Writing down my wishes in an organised and clear way has meant that I don’t have to panic about the ‘what if’ – I can get on with living well with whatever time I have left.