Advance Care Planning Day

Advance Care Planning Day

Life & Death Matters Post

Preparedness takes on new meanings depending, among other things, on our daily lives, family circumstances, and global issues…

During my childrearing years, an apparently simple but forever difficult planning decision was “what am I going to cook for dinner”. Before going on an annual “honeymoon” the practical question was “who is going to take care of the kids while we are away?” The bigger question was, “Who will take care and love the kids if anything happens to us?”

Living on Vancouver Island there is always a possibility of an earthquake which means that in addition to figuring out what to cook for dinner, I am supposed to have a 72 hour kit. Like cooking dinner, it sounds relatively simple. Get a list of what is needed to survive for 72 hours, pull together and/or purchase the items, put them in a bag, store them in an accessible location and update the contents as needed. The reality, like planning dinner, or writing a will, is that it takes longer to worry about it, than to do it! And, like cooking dinner, or writing a will, when it is done, it feels SOOOO good!

Today April 12th is Advance Care Planning Day in Canada! The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) has launched a new website – “Speaking Up”. The site was developed to “raise awareness of the importance of advance care planning, as well as the issues related to an aging population, a strained health care system and end of life care. The “Speak Up” campaign reminds Canadians to think about and talk about their end of life wishes.” (retrieved from website April 12, 2011) In addition there is information to help get you started.

The best part of ACP is the conversation around the dinner table. I told my gang that I figured that when I was ready I would like to follow an old tradition of going for a long walk in the ice, perhaps out on an ice flow. My darling son in law, who I am sure adores me (?!) has kindly offered to push the iceflow away when I am ready. He reminded me though that with global warming I may not want to wait too long. How good to have loved ones to help make your wishes come true.

My darling colleague Dr Deb Braithwaite talks of visiting families after the death, and debriefing, touching base, etc… I told her that she would know my house,… it would be the one with all the balloons in the driveway, and she would hear the old Wizard of Oz song playing, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”. My daughter used to groan when she heard me say that, but now she says, “We are going to have to get that song when you die, just so we can laugh and play it. In reality, I think they will play my two favorite songs… “What a wonderful world” and “I love to laugh”.

As for the care before death… we have had a few serious conversations about that. The legal papers are all signed appointing a person to speak for me should I not be able to speak for myself. And, so far, I have not needed that help. The good thing, like my preparedness kit, it is done!

Now I just have to figure out what to cook for dinner!

For those who are doing fine in the meal planning department, perhaps instead of gifting someone with a recipe book, you can consider sending the link to help them with Advance Care Planning!

Have a great day!



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Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

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