Who’s death is it anyway?

“Death is one of two things. Either it is annihilation, and the dead have no consciousness of anything; or, as we are told, it is really a change: a migration of the soul from one place to another.” -Socrates

I believe Americans have a responsibility to make their own decisions regarding end-of-life preferences. Yes, thinking about end -of-life decisions is overwhelming, but burdening your loved ones could cause controversy among the family, devastation, and financial implications. Loved ones may disagree and argue about what treatment you receive and that could destroy their relationship. They also may suffer by watching you suffer and they could be left paying pricey medical bills.

Americans fought for certain rights and freedoms for hundreds of years. To neglect the right you have to choose your end-of-life decisions would be foolish. You spend your life fighting to be successful and achieve happiness, so why lay on your death bed with no dignity and no chance to choose how you die. Also, you make decisions every day, some decisions you make are not even important, this decision is. You are blessed with the opportunity to choose what type of healthcare you receive, what type of treatment you want and do not want, and how your body should be disposed of, why waste it?

living-will-tattoo

Your wishes may change over the course of time. They also may change when you are actually lying on your death bed. Whatever your wishes are, I believe it is very important to have them documented in a living will. It is also important to discuss in depth exactly what you want with your children, healthcare proxy, and your healthcare provider. Your loved ones should know what you want because it will be difficult for them to decide for you if there comes a time where you are incapable of making your own decisions. Also, your loved ones have the right to know what you want and why you want it so they could be at peace when you pass. For example, they may not have closure if they are unsure that the decision they made for you what something you wanted. When your loved ones let you go they should be able to move on knowing this is what you wanted and this is what you are happy with.

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Your loved ones may not understand a health care provider’s reasoning for certain treatments as well. Patients and their family members should be able to ask questions. Patients and their family should know if their illness is irreversible because it will help a patient determine what their next move is. Also, they should question the decision of a healthcare provider because if they do not understand the doctor’s terminology they might be agreeing to something that they realize is not best for their dying loved ones.

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7 thoughts on “Who’s death is it anyway?

  1. The living will tattoo picture prompted me to do a little research on the validity of that particular practice. Although it does not meet the legal requirements for an advance directive, it could be used as a guide for treatment decisions. However, if the person is unresponsive, there is no way to know if the tattoo reflects the person’s current wishes or if it was applied as a joke.

    You also mention the need to revisit end of life decisions, which may change based on the specifics of the circumstances. My mom always said she wanted to die at home, but then decided she wanted to be admitted to a hospice facility a week before she died. Had she not felt comfortable about telling us what she really wanted in the end, we may have inadvertently acted on her previous wish.

  2. I regards to the end of life decisions I agree with you that sometimes people are not going to understand the logic behind what a doctor is doing, and yes it is okay to question him or her. Because if we don’t who will? If one feels that the doctor is going against what the patient wanted then, obviously you first need to know what those wishes were, and also know how to act on them even if the doctor doesn’t agree or listen. In that case that’s where having an advanced directives are a lot more helpful! Also, I thought the tattoo was a little extreme, but definitely hard to miss what the patient wanted. I also have to wonder how many people actually do that?

  3. I definitely laughed when I saw the tattoo directive, it puts quite the creative twist on living wills. Comedy aside, I thought your post was unbelievably thorough. I very much agree with your comment on how we have fought hard to attain the freedoms that we have today, and it would be such a disappointing waste to not act on that. Like you said we make insignificant decisions every day, it is essential that we take the time to make a thorough decision on this matter.

    It can’t be stressed enough how important an advanced directive is. If we become incompetent at some point in our lives we should be able to die in the way we seem fit. Maintain your independence until the very end, and an advance directive will allow that to happen.

  4. First off, I really like this title. While it is a play on a tv show it actually works really well here. Who’s death is it anyway? Who should be responsible for end of life decisions? You make a great point acknowledging the fact that we make decisions every day, so why not make decisions for how we want to leave this world? It is the responsibility of each American to decide which treatments they do or do not want and make it clear to their family and doctors. Advanced directives can clear up a whole lot of confusion and stress for loved ones and, as you mentioned, know that they can find comfort in making the right decision. The tattoo really catches your eye, however, I do not believe it holds any validity, but still a really cool idea!

  5. Haha that title though! I just had to leave a response… I think you picked a perfect title to demonstrate what this blog topic is about. The person responsible and in charge of end of life matters should be the person who is actually dying! NOT the next of kin or the attending physicians! Living wills and open discussion with loved ones,and also your healthcare providers, are both important factors in ensuring that your life ends the way you want it to. This way, if there comes a point where you can no longer speak for yourself, everyone around you is still up to speed on your wishes and will do what they can to make sure they are followed. Because after all, it is your death, anyway!

  6. I agree completely with the first part of your post. Of course, every American have the right AND the responsibility to have an advanced directive, or at least communicate to his/her family what he wants with regards to end of life decisions. Additionally, I agree that patients and their families should question the healthcare provider regarding treatment and procedure in order to get an idea of what it is happening. However, from a purely medical standpoint, I doubt that a family can have enough knowledge to question the decision made by a doctor. I am not saying that the doctor should do whatever he or she wants; far from it. I believe that the doctor should follow the wishes of the patient and his/her family, and act in their best interest. But, once a decision has been made (which would most likely be in the patient’s best interest and in line with his/her wishes), I don’t see how a family can question that decision. To question something, one has to know enough about it. Who knows medicine better than a doctor? Again, the doctor should not have the authority to make the decision for the patient, or go against his/her desire. But if the doctor is acting within his/her limits, then the family cannot question the doctor’s decision.

  7. I really liked how to touched on how families may disagree with a patients wishes and may argue within the family about what moves should be made. By having an advance directive these issues can be avoided because it is already set in stone by the patient. I also agree that if a patient and their family does not understand the recommendations given by their health care providers or physicians they should inquire about what steps to take and if treatment is worth all the money. By knowing if treatment will actually help or just prolong death a person can make a more comprehensive decision on whether or not they want to continue treatment or begin the end of life process because they have the right to do so as you stated above. Although family members may not agree with a patients decision it is ultimately the patients final decision that matters because it is their life.

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