Before I read the article “Taking Responsibility for Death” by Susan Jacoby, I believed that individuals had the rights, not the responsibility of duty to state their end-of-life preferences before they are incompetent. The reason for my belief was that no one in my family, including myself, has completed an advance directive because we all feel that when our time on earth is near, the doctor and other medical staff will take all the appropriate measures in order to ensure that we die in the best way. Also, being from another country with a completely different culture than the American culture, it is a little harder to comprehend the need for an EOL. In Nigeria, everyone goes through the same process as they reach their last days. After the doctor declares that the patient does not have a fighting chance due to terminal illness or old age, the patient usually is taken home where they enjoy quality time with family members until they pass away. Some dying patients decide to stay in the hospital, if their sickness require a little more medical attention but the procedures of excessive use of feeding tubes and other systems that keep the already dieing in a lifeless state, are rarely used in Nigeria.
(In Nigeria: a dying father at home while his family is at his side)
However, from numerous stories, including the one of Susan Jacoby’s 89-year-old mother, I came to the realization that in countries like America, if we do not list our our last wishes, our death may be painful, cause chaos between family members and can be extremely expensive. For example, Susan Jacoby’s mother witnessed the family of a dying mother physically battle each other over the choices that their incompetent mother would have prefered done to her and then they also had to pay $20,000 to hook up their mother to machines for only two weeks!
This story clearly shows that we have a responsibility to say what we want at our end of life so that we do not leave our families behind with not only sadness from our death, but monetary problems and strain with each with other in a time when they are supposed to come together to grieve. Also, families play an important role when it comes to the end-of-life decisions of a loved one. Unfortunately, not many people in our society take the time to make their advance directives, and in most cases, it is up to the family members to choose what that person who have prefered medically done to them. Therefore, family members must not be afraid to question the decisions made by the health care providers because they know more and care more about the patient’s wishes than the health care provider who might be more ignorant to the patient’s quality of life and more focused on prolonging the patient’s life.