This past weekend my grandmother had a fall. It caused some broken and cracked ribs, and a lot of confusion. At 79, she still lives alone, but after this incident and other recent events, that is about to change.
So as we prepare for the next step, I wonder if it is possible to finish each part of your life well.
This grandmother is on my maternal side, and I am just like my mom, who is in turn very similar to her mother. Needless to say, that is a lot of strong woman opinions in one room. This occasionally leads to what my family calls, “Intense Moments of Personal Fellowship.” I am sure you can understand my Southern on that.
I remember when we moved my sister into her dorm, we had those moments. Moving me into my first house, we had those moments. Moving my sister and family, we had those moments. (I was so crazy on that one that I moved her entire kitchen by myself, and for a month got daily calls and texts from her and her husband desperately trying to figure out where I had put things.) When we moved my Grandmother into her current house, we had those moments. They are bound to happen.
But this is a new kind of moment.
For my Grandmother, the end of her independence is a horrible thing to face. She has been a strong and fierce woman for so long. For example, she had breast cancer in 1993. She made decisions that were out of the box, but right for her. Instead of a lumpectomy and chemo, she chose a radical mastectomy to the chest wall. She even drove herself to the mastectomy.
But now, at 79, we have to talk about the hard things and do the hard things. Thankfully, my mom has us prepared for this. She has us ready to finish well. We have a notebook with guidance on wishes for end of life care. We have a financial notebook. A password notebook. An insurance notebook. You get the idea.
My mom has been a hospice nurse for many years, and one thing she learned is most people refuse to prepare for the finish. We prepare for retirement, but what about when we can no longer live alone.
We prepare for the middle but not the end.
That is wrong.
None of us want to think about what would happen if we suddenly had a stroke and were incapacitated, or passed away. But the reality is it can happen to anyone of us at any time. We need to make sure our loved ones know what to do when our time is finished.
When my father died, it was a great comfort to know we had final arrangements the way he wanted. However, we also found a few surprises — namely a very full storage unit. We battled feelings of knowing we made the right decisions and being blindsided with stuff.
So this year maybe you need to consider preparing to finish.
Start simple, make a list of usernames and passwords for important stuff, share it with your person, and secure it away. Consider an advanced medical directive, choose a POA (Person of Authority) for medical and financial decisions- they don’t have to be the same person. Just do something.
Finishing each stage of our life is scary … those transitions from child to teen to adult to spouse to parent to grandparent and so on. Each stage comes with fear, but just like your mom making you clean out your room four years after you got married, each stage has to have a finish point. So go ahead and think about it in pieces so it isn’t so overwhelming later.When your life comes to an end, will those you love be prepared to carry on your legacy?Click To Tweet