I didn't understand all the choices and consequences that came with end-of-life decisions but I’ve had losses that have had a long lasting impact on me. and have influenced the way I view and approach goals of care conversations.
I remember being at the hospital with my grandma and meeting with her hospice nurse. This nurse was brave enough to have the honest conversation about my grandma’s condition and let my mom and I know that she was dying-very soon. No one had told us this even though we had met with many “experts”. My maternal grandmother had been stoic and non-committal on what she wanted and had avoided the conversation. This left my mom to make the final decision on how to proceed since my grandma had never made her wishes known. She ultimately had to make the decision to just let things stop, to not push further with surgery. This has led to a lot of grief and regret. She still wishes she could do it over.
Years later, we lost my dad’s mom. She was a nurse that cared for soldiers in World War 2, then later was a surgical nurse. So when she became fatally ill and was in the hospital and the doctors presented her with surgery she knew she what she wanted and that she wanted a natural death. She had made it so clear to all of us that we all know we were honoring her wish to die on her terms. She was able to say goodbye to us and thank us for allowing her to make the choice to not have surgery. My dad felt assured he was honoring his mom and her clear wishes have alleviated any burden of guilt or regret.
That's The Power of advance directives. That's The Power of having those tough conversations about what you want when your body is either fighting cancer or has a debilitating disease or is just plain worn out.
I have been a Social Worker for 25 years. Over 12 years of those have been in hospice. I have currently been with Hospice of the West for 7 years.