More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Discuss End of Life Procedures Now

My sister-in-law recently lost her father, Bob. He went in for heart surgery and came through the surgery quite well for a man in his early eighties. However, he had a difficult time coming out of the anesthesia and was unresponsive. A few months passed and the doctors discovered that Bob had lost circulation to his legs and arms and gangrene had set in.

The family was in turmoil not knowing whether to put him through another surgery to remove the dying limbs in hopes of saving him. The possibility of him coming through another surgery was very low; he would probably die due to blood loss. Their other options were: allow him to lay in bed unconscious and see if he would awaken before he passed from systemic infection or help him die by removing artificial support. He had a living will and they would have been totally within their right to remove the equipment since those were his wishes.

While the family was trying to decide what to do, Bob woke up. When told about his condition and asked if he wanted to have surgery to remove his limbs, he affirmed an absolute "No!" Let me add a note here that it is normal for a dying person to awaken or rally just before they pass. It's seems as if they come back one more time just to say goodbye.

Refusing the surgery, the doctors dismissed Bob and told the family that Bob had less than two weeks to live. Bob was moved from the hospital where he had been for about two months and taken to a hospice center closer to his home and family. My sister-in-law had been driving an hour each way to see her father at least three times per week. Moving Bob to hospice closer to home allowed her to visit him every day and stay longer each visit. By the fourth day, Bob passed in his sleep.

It is not easy to address issues of death and dying with your family members, but the time of crisis is not the best time to discuss end of life procedures. It is a blessing to know in advance what your loved one wants and the only way to find out is to ask while they are able to tell you. It may be one of the best and most meaningful conversations you ever have. Plan a family meeting and make it a fun and intimate event. It would be an excellent time to sign your Advanced Directive or Living Will (see Appendix A of my book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife available on or download the PDF on my blog).

If you are unsure about what you want or if you need more information about available procedures please talk with a doctor or healthcare provider before there is a crisis to contend with.

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