Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When Reality Strikes

I have just returned from Florida and a little escape from reality.  I have been caring for my dear friend Lucy for the past six months.  She was doing great until she had a fall in September and broke her hip.  At first she seemed like she might recover, but then she took a turn for the worse.

She was 95-years-old and the stress of the injury, surgery and a traumatic move out of her previous home, led to her developing Alzheimers/dementia and a rapid decline in her mental and physical health.  It was a terrifying reality to watch.

One thing that has really hit me through all of this is that we ALL need to prepare for possible illness and death, and how we want things happened in that eventuality.  Lucy had done just that.  She had a Health Care Directive, a Durable Power of Attorney, A Will and all of her wishes laid out plainly.  She had even written down what she wanted to include in her obituary.  She was prepared.  It has made things much easier for me as the Executor of her Estate.

Losing a loved one is a sad reality, we are all born and we will all die someday.  It is your responsibility to make it as easy as possible on those you leave behind.  We are not good in this country at preparing our children, loved ones and friends for the sure fact that someday, no one knows exactly when, we will face death....ours and/or others.  I am a retired RN and though that I was prepared for what was happening with Lucile.  Although I knew intellectually what was going on and what was about to happen, I was still having problems dealing with it emotionally.

I am not saying you don't need to do and you will.  But, it is much easier when you know what the wishes of the deceased were.  Make sure you talk with your family about your wishes in the event of serious illness or death and don't just talk about it, put it in writing.  It is one thing to KNOW the persons wishes, and another to be able to carry them out without the black and white print to direct your actions.

I was blessed to be Lucy's friend for the past ten years, and we had so many fun times and memories together.  She was a unique individual, and I am glad we were friends.  I will never forget her.

Make sure you hug your loved ones today and tell them you love them.  Reconcile with anyone you haven't spoken to in days, months or even years.  Clear all your issues.  Life really is short and does go by quickly.  Smell the roses, fulfill your "bucket list", and enjoy every single day you have.  Tomorrow is not promised.

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