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Dignity, Security, and Peace at Life's End

Introduction

Honor My Wishes – Introductory Article
By Nancy Merrill and Trip Hart
Addressing the everyday obligations of a hectic lifestyle becomes a comfortable excuse to push to the back burner the weighty questions involving your death. Talking about and preparing for end of life might be considered a poor use of time if we feel our energies are needed to simply meet the pressures of a given day. A report of a tragic accident, or worse a personal experience with a loved one, quickly elevates the value of being thoughtfully prepared.

Four articles by Honor My Wishes (HMW) will focus on the stewardship of planning for end of life and highlights the HMW personal planning guidebook. The HMW guidebook is available on our website. Difficult conversations are easier to deal with while we are healthy, before the need to address them is forced by circumstances. HMW, a local non-profit organization, has been providing education since 2002 on preparing medical directives (Dignity) organizing legal and financial information (Security), and recording funeral or final arrangement wishes (Peace) through offering our comprehensive planning guidebook. Our hope is to motivate all adults in our state to get on the right track and determine what their wishes are and have them honored. Take this opportunity make end of life issues a part of our normal conversation.

In 2005, the court ordered removal of Terri Schiavo’s artificial feeding tube that had sustained her persistent vegetative state for 15 years. Her death generated bitter disagreements over her care and became a national religious, political and ethical debate. No one will ever know what Terri’s wishes would have been had she been able to voice them. However, it’s hard to imagine that she would have chosen to become the poster child for both sides of a debate spectrum regarding end of life.

Dignity: No one wants to become the next Schiavo case. Whether you disagree or support the courts’ decisions, few people would choose to have their family fighting over their care, or the courts and Congress becoming involved. So how do we have the conversations and make the necessary plans to ensure our personal values and wishes are honored? The Dignity section of the HMW guidebook and the second article explore the best way to avoid a Schiavo scenario.

Security: Likewise, few people would want to knowingly make it difficult for loved ones to manage their legal and financial affairs in the event of an untimely death. Least of all, none of us relishes the thought of family fighting over our personal property. How can we rest secure in the knowledge we’ve done our best to reduce conflict? Our third article highlights how the value of certain legal documents and organizing financial information demonstrates you care about your family and survivors.

Peace: Are you the treasure-keeper of handed down family history and stories that could be lost when you die? What preferences do you have for what you want done with your body after death – cremation or body burial, a prestigious send-off with a fine casket, or perhaps a homemade one or even none at all? The last article in the series challenges concepts of how you might handle your final affairs.

Honor: My Wishes is a non-profit organization staffed entirely by volunteers. Our vision is Dignity, Security and Peace at Life’s End, and our mission is to educate all adults about the need to plan for this eventuality. Our HMW guidebooks are available through our website – donations are encouraged and appreciated.

Testimonial


I am always looking for that "value added" service for my clients. Honor My Wishes is just that. Several clients used the materials to guide them through a loss of a loved one, and others have used it to prepare for the future. I encourage others in the accounting and financial service field to introduce their clients to Honor my Wishes.

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Deanna Kaster, Cacade Accounting Company, Maple Valley, WA