Ready or not, we die
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
What is one of the first things we, as healthcare providers, do when providing acute patient care? Clarify "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) status, correct? This singular item informs the patient’s entire plan of care.
Yet, how many of us are personally equally prepared? Have we completed what we hammer our clients, colleagues, and clan to do? Ready or not, death will be knocking on our door.
Years ago I wrote an article, entitled, "Gifts from the Grave: Lessons Learned for Living Well."
It's as relevant today as it was back then. The big three takeaways are:
Get your affairs in order.
What do we tell our patients? Not only to talk about your final wishes to those closest to you and with your physician, but to also document your directives.
Have we done this for ourselves? Follow-up is important, too. Review directives again when life changes occur such as marriage or moving and at least every five years during the status quo.
Clean up your relationships.
How many times have we witnessed patients unable to die until that last relative showed up? More often than not, that was the person who they had unfinished business with.
Have we, as healthcare providers, handled our human homework? Are we practicing what we're preaching? If not, it's time to release, let go and forgive.
Live your life intentionally, meaningfully and consciously.
Most of us engaged in our current healthcare environment operate in overload just trying to get through the day intact and safely. We keep putting off what's most important to us, telling ourselves, "We'll get to it when we have more time — later."
And then we don't. Time’s up. A crash, a stroke or a bullet — it can happen to any of us — radically upends our lives.
Time and time again, we, as providers, have witnessed the chaos that often accompanies such a life-threatening event whether it be in hospital or home. The billing office staff experience it on the back end, too. What a mess we can avert by attending to the above lessons, sooner not later.
Recently, I co-facilitated a year-long program based on the book, "A Year to Live" by Stephen Levine. Not only did our group focus on educating ourselves about various aspects of dying, we strove to live our year as if it were our last.
And what a year it was! Participants took this course wholeheartedly: difficult decisions were made and acted upon, necessary conversations happened, directives got done, houses sold, people decided to move.
A cancer patient chose hospice care versus continuing to crisscross the globe seeking cures. Through this process, laughing often and sometimes in tears, we witnessed transformations — over and over. So much intimacy, vulnerability and authenticity expressed in those sessions.
And then we did it — we died at the end in a beautiful ritual, complete. Not in crisis management mode. You and your patients can, too. Get ready! The future is now.
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