The end of life stage can be very stressful for all parties involved. Every American should be responsible to make their own decisions on what they prefer during this stage. This will alleviate unnecessary stress during an already terrible time. Most people seem to be unaware or avoid end of life topics because of the taboo nature. However, as society we tend to embrace having the power to make choices and that should include choices of medical treatment and funeral arrangements during the last months of life. Making decisions before hand and having things prepared is a smart option.
The responsibilities should include what treatment they would want in various scenarios like acquiring dementia, becoming brain dead or any terminal disease like cancer. This will allow the family to solely cope with what is going on with their ill loved one instead of worrying about the un-made medical decisions. It would even be helpful for a person to have funeral arrangements set up before the time comes.
This may tend to freak a lot of people out, but if you think about it you are really the only one who knows exactly what you want. I know I definitely do not want to be buried but I have never expressed that to anyone. If I were to die tomorrow (god forbid) I’m sure the general consensus would be to bury my body because my request has never been given. After the death of a loved one many families may feel regret of the decisions made. Questioning whether or not the correct decisions were made during the end-of-life phase happens. I witnessed this when my mother had to decide to take my grandmother off of life support after a car accident. With her having to make such a huge decision it definitely had a negative affect on her coping process. I think responsibilities should go past advanced directives, living wills, a legal proxy, etc. As taboo as death and end of life is it needs to be talked about- it is our responsibility to talk about it.
The patient should die as they please and the family should be there for the loved one during the time of need. The family should watch over the loved one and ensure everything is being carried out by the medical professionals as the patient requested. Healthcare providers, just like anyone, can make a mistake or over look something. We are all human and things don’t always happen as they should. If the family or patient feels as though they need to question the provider they should do exactly that. Just because they are expected to be the experts does not mean the patient and family cannot have enough knowledge to think another option may be more suitable.
Susan Jacoby’s argument is precisely correct. If more Americans would break the contradiction and make end of life decisions earlier on it would make this life phase much more bearable for everyone.