(1/5) Alan’s preparations for end of life.

End of Life Ireland (EOLI) is a volunteer-led group seeking to foster conversation about end-of life issues. This introductory post is the first in a series of blog posts telling the story of our committee member, Alan Tuffery’s experience of making arrangements for the end of his life.

Like most people, I suppose I avoided thinking too much about the end of my life. After all, I am pretty busy just trying to live my life. But I accept that life is finite — nothing is more certain than the fact that we are going to die.

I know that when someone dies, there is quite a lot of tedious administration to be done. My mother was a very organised woman, and having been in care for several years had made preparations to ensure her ‘affairs’ were very simple to resolve and I am forever grateful for that fact. I want to make it as easy as possible for my nearest and dearest who will have to deal with my affairs. I don’t want to be the cause of any kind of rift in the family through lack of a bit of forethought. My family won’t thank me if I leave them a mess to sort out. I know they will not want to be bothered with administrative tasks when they may be dealing with their own emotions.

There are three principal aspects that need to be thought about:

  • end-of life care
  • funeral arrangements
  • what happens to your assets

There are systems in place for dealing with all of these things and in this series of posts I will record my experiences of each of these aspects and tease out their implications.

Of course, we do not live in isolation. No man or woman is an island. We live in social networks and what we do affects others. In particular, we will be relying on some others to carry out our wishes. This means that it is important to discuss your wishes with your nearest and dearest and perhaps a wider circle of friends. After all, one way of breaking down barriers and taboos is to talk about them. Wider discussions about end-of-life issues can only benefit everyone by creating a healthy, more open view of older people and end-of-life matters

I am a humanist and that colours my view of the type of end of life care and funeral arrangements I want. It may be that not everyone in your family agrees with your choices. For example. a non-religious person may come from a religious family. Some of the family may think that it‘s not a proper funeral unless it’s done in ‘their’ church. If funeral arrangements matter sufficiently to you (and they may not!), then you should find someone willing to take care of your funeral and have the necessary conversations with them and others to ensure you get your wishes. Of course you could even arrange it all for yourself, but that is a much bigger job.

In the next post I’ll tell you about Advance Healthcare Directives, which is one way of stating clearly your wishes in relation to end-of-life care. Like most end-of-life issues, it will involve other people, so it is a great way of starting those conversations about your end-of-life choices.

Continue learning in the next post in Alan’s series.