Usually these three words will generate a massive interest with the majority of people. When? Where? Who or what is it for? Who all is going? What do I need to bring? Is there food there? Will there be music and dancing? Will it be inside or outside? What should I wear?
Imagine you are planning this party. Which questions from above would remain the same and what new ones would you ask? What will it cost? Is there room enough? Where would people park? Who do I invite? Who don’t I want there?
Think of what someone else would be asking if it was a surprise party for you and you could not be involved. How many of the same questions do you think would still apply? What new ones can you think of? Who are the closest friends, coworkers, and family who would be invited?
Now, picture your reaction and that of family friends and coworkers to the news of a sudden death forcing you or them to be responsible for funeral arrangements. How many of the same questions apply? Consider the possibility of a situation where there is a complete loss of the ability to communicate due to sudden injury or illness. How many of these same questions remain for the person who must provide care and coordinate treatment? Who can help?
Unfortunately for many, the excitement of planning this party, be it a surprise or not, may become altered and replaced by stress and fear. Without specific, easy-to-find instructions (and frequent revisions to those), the burden of responsibility will fall onto unprepared family, friends, or others who may or may not have had any experience with caregiving or may not know the legalities and processes of complex decision-making for healthcare needs. They may have no idea who you really are or what you would have wanted. What seemed like a fun, exciting party, as the popular opinion of life often is encouraged to be, is now suddenly a personal, social and emotional struggle.
Caring Choices remains hopeful and optimistic in the reality of enjoying life to the fullest. Preparing for the inevitable changes in life does not need to be pessimistic and negative. Rather, it can be a courageous and mindful consideration of how others will react to change in our lives. Please start the conversations and plan for the party we all are born invited to.