Talking About Death and Dying (2-2-14)

In the Feb. 2 Adult Ed, the conversation about death and dying was lively and laced with humor. One participant mused, "I've prepared an advanced directive but I'd be hard-pressed to know where I put it." Another quipped, "I personally don't plan on dying myself." Still another shared his experience with a brother-in-law dying of late-stage melanoma cancer. "He used to smoke and decided to take it up again. We all joined him. I hadn't smoked in 50 years and nearly fainted!"

Information was shared with Dumbartonians about a "5 Wishes" form* aimed at helping people clarify their values as they prepare a living will and an advanced directive .  Adult Ed also learned about Ellen Goodman's  "Conversation Starter Kit" from which these statistics have emerged: 60 percent of Americans say they don't want their families to be burdened with tough end-of-life decisions; 57 percent have not had that conversation; 70 percent  say they want to die at home; 70 percent die in hospitals or nursing homes. 80 percent say they want to put their wishes in writing, and 23 percent have done it.

Here are highlights of other comments made in the Adult Ed session:
--"I'm glad I enabled my dad to die as he chose."
--"I feel comforted to know hospice will be there."
--"People afraid of dyihg don't fear 'disability.' Let's not misuse this term."
--"My sister had a DNR but when she died, nobody could find it. So I've updated my will, listing where everything is and what should be done when I die. I've sent it to all my kids."
--"Nobody deserves to die alone."
--"If I wake up and find my spouse dead, whom do I call?"
--"If you don't know what to say, just be there."
--"When choosing a crematorium, make sure it's family-owned."
--"My faher-in-law said he  hoped to live to 100 because very few people die after that age!"
--"We don't have to fear dying. We're coming home."
--"According to The Onion, the death rate is steady at 100 percent!"

--By Ginny Finch