The frustration and concern were unmistakable as her fingers formed a perfect circle and she said “How about Zip?” This comment was in response to my statement of “in times of an inability to communicate then a reflection of past discussions may help.”
And so I expect that may be a reaction for many people as I press home the importance of talking about how people may or may not want to live in the last moments, days, weeks, months, or years of life. The conversations are difficult and stressful even for me. Still difficult, despite the fact that I have had the honor of many such moments as family, friends, and patients have grappled with the choices and sought to understand and accept the reality of change. Be it sudden, expected, or planned, change has always been seen by large numbers of people to be unwanted, feared, and avoided. And change in itself is a very natural part of life. Even in my own life, I see the challenge in dealing with change to be completely overwhelming at times.
At 58 years old it has become more and more apparent to me that the aging process alone is changing my ability to continue doing some things that were easy for me in the not so distant past. Simple tasks are no longer simple. Enjoying the exploration of ledges along new found mountain trails across the United States are risks for me now, not leisure. And I accept this with gratitude at having had the opportunity to experience them up close and personal.
And isn’t this how life is for all of us? Especially when the days wind down, the system slows up and the truth becomes unavoidable. The clarity is pure and the moments are so precious when we feel alive. Like when falling in love for the first time, or the birth of a child, or when you have a near miss while driving a car or regaining your balance, sparing a slip and fall on the ice. The heart races and we take a deep breath. Do we not now see life in magnified brilliance? We are alive, and thankful to continue on.
Caring Choices is very much aware of how personal conversations are essential to communicate to our loved ones about how we want to live when changes come. We understand and believe that when the near misses and changes become unavoidable, having eliminated the “Zip” factor of unasked questions may soften the strain of that racing heart, deep breath and strengthen the feeling of being alive and thankful to continue on. Moments matter, up close and personal.