Remembering and honoring the dead has taken on many forms throughout time. Even in the United States there are “variations” of what and when Memorial Day or Decoration Day means. In 1967-1968 President Lyndon B Johnson signed into being and then moved the 100 year old tradition of putting flowers on the graves of fallen veterans of the civil war to May 30 1968. On June 28th 1968 the Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. Memorial Day is now celebrated nationally on the final Monday of May every year. Despite the differences overall, the honoring of the fallen both military and civilian alike has remained a tradition recognized and celebrated across the world. We are thankful for the sacrifice and courage of those who have passed.
For many of us, death may not be seen as something that needs celebrating. I can feel the tension and hesitance each time I initiate an advanced care planning conversation. Because of multiple reasons some just do not see the point of expending valuable time on worrying about something I frequently hear described as “negative” or “not important now”. I’ve heard things like “It’s not going to be my problem once I’m dead.” “She (or he, or they) already know what I want.” “I don’t want to talk about that yet.” “I’m healthy now” or “I am too young to be talking about that.”
What I see is not a negative, premature or unrealistic topic. It is an opportunity for people to communicate with someone they love. Not because it is a holiday that someone else founded, but because it is a chance to share real feelings about the truth of our lives today. And like the variations of holidays and different styles of celebration, planning for the future of our love can be as unique. Not everyone has parents; the world is full of orphans. Not everyone has sisters and brothers, and there are some unfortunate enough to not even have a friend. But even court appointed facilitators have protocols to follow. The more information that is shared and recorded the more probable the chances that the final wishes of each and every one of us will be carried out and fulfilled.
We could no more pick our parents than we can choose our end. But with continuous and ongoing dialog we can nurture the style of parenthood we would want for ourselves when independence no longer exists for us. We can decide who has the strength of heart, mind and body to best meet our needs in most any circumstance were we suddenly “orphaned” of our time and ability.
Caring Choices celebrates an informal holiday of life every day. We are thankful for the freedom of choice for which so many have sacrificed. Planning for safety, comfort, and peace of mind with those we love is one more way to continue a tradition.
© 2014 Caring Choices