Written by Panorama staff. June 2016
When first arriving to this particular session, I was unsure what to expect out of Five Wishes. The only information I had was the event description which states, “Five Wishes is an easy-to-use legal document written in everyday language that lets adults of all ages plan how they want to be cared for in case they become seriously ill. It is unique because it speaks to all needs: medical, personal, emotional and spiritual. Five Wishes also helps structure discussions with your family and physician.” It was assumed that this was going to just be a discussion of how to fill out this legal document. Instead, it was an uplifting, enlightening, and helpful discussion that allowed everyone to take something away from it.
Carol Johnson was the facilitator for this Embracing Life session. She is a health care counselor and handles end-of-life issues. Her light humor and relaxed persona helped make the atmosphere less negative and depressing. It was more than just a lecture about how to legally fill out this document; it was a discussion in how to ensure that everyone’s end-of-life wishes were fulfilled.
Carol started off by asking the audience why they came today to learn about Five Wishes. The following responses were:
- Doing it for children, spouse, loved ones, etc.
- Ease my mind
- Love for my family
- To create ease for family & loved ones
In essence, according to Carol, everyone was there to “get their ducks in a row”, to further ensure that their wishes were heard and fulfilled. She then had everyone state how they felt dealing with end-of life issues. The following feelings were stated:
While most of the feelings were negative, there were a few that felt discussing and dealing with end-of-life issues enabled them to be furthered prepared for the future. Carol then went through the entire Five Wishes document and what it entails. The main purpose of this legal document is to list how you want to be treated when you are seriously ill. It gives you the tools to help you talk to friends, family and doctors, so that they will know exactly what you want. The document allows you to make the following decisions and choices:
- Who you want to make healthcare decisions for you
- Where you want to die
- Life support decisions
- Wishes for your loved ones to know
- How you want to be treated
- How you want to be remembered
These are just a few of the topics and choices that you can make in the document. The ideal part about Five Wishes is that all the decisions are in one document.
By the end of the discussion, those initial negative feelings concerning end-of-life were lessened. Carol made the discussion fun and entertaining, showing the audience that end-of-life discussions do not need to be scary and depressing. Regardless of age, knowing how you want to spend your end-of-life is important. Although it is hard to discuss such a heavy topic with family and loved ones, it will create ease for them when they have to make those decisions for you. Ensuring that your wishes are heard and fulfilled is important and will truly enable you to “embrace your life” until the very end.