Aug 5 2013

“My Thoughts” for My Whole Life

A couple of articles caught my eye recently -- both about how people choose to live their whole life and in particular the end of it. Coping with the end of life is never easy, for anyone.

An article published by The Atlantic drives home how making your wishes clear can give you and your loved ones an experience that limits regret and heartache.  The Atlantic chronicled the final wishes of Bettie Lewis, an older woman with chronic metastatic cancer. While speaking about the end of her life was difficult, Bettie made clear her two fears: uncontrolled pain and being alone. Although Bettie’s doctors could not find a cure for her illness, they were able to provide her with pain-free end-of-life treatment surrounded by family and loved ones.  Bettie made one more thing clear: her final wish was to meet her unborn grandson.

When it became clear that Bettie would not survive long enough to meet her pregnant daughter’s son, Bettie’s doctors and palliative care team came up with an innovative solution. Nurses wheeled an ultrasound machine into Bettie’s room and with her daughter lying by her side, Bettie was introduced to “Aiden,” her grandson. Meeting her grandson gave Bettie the peace that she needed and deserved in her final days.

How wonderful is it that she was able to fully express her wishes and find this peace of mind.

Comfortable end-of-life treatment not only affects the patient, but also impacts the patient’s family. For some family members, coping with a loss in an unconventional way also provides solace.  In the case of National Public Radio host Scott Simon, tweeting his emotional experience while sitting at his mother’s bedside in the hospital during her last days provided him with comfort.

Simon’s 1.3 million Twitter followers may be mostly strangers to the radio host, but the dialogue he sparked gave them the opportunity to voice their support and shared experiences. Simon made this observation to co-host Audie Cornish onAll Things Considered:

I must say, among the millions of people we've been hearing from are, of course, NPR listeners. And it means a lot to our family because they all seem to say that they're not just giving condolences to me as someone they know, but that something my mother said meant something to them. It's pretty gratifying.

The end of life is difficult, but we started MyDirectives in the first place to spark conversation and make it easy to create a plan so that you can live the life you want. With MyDirectives, you can fill out the “My Thoughts” section which lets you describe non-medical requests about the personal aspects of your care and comfort, like Bettie did with her last wish to meet her grandson.  Post pictures or a playlist of music that would help you get well during a medical emergency or upload video messages to give you confidence your voice can truly be heard.  MyDirectives allows everyone to be like Bettie, and Scott Simon and to have the reassurance that they and their loved ones will have the chance at the whole life they want.


Advance Care Planning My Thoughts NPR Scott Simon The Atlantic

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