Helping Parents Share End Of Life Wishes

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William_King_spicer_mullikin_sqBy William E. King


End-of-life issues are generally hushed topics rarely brought up until it’s too late. Many parents want to talk about their final arrangements but don’t want to risk upsetting their children.  The time to broach these important matters is when everyone is healthy and enjoying life and each other. Not all decisions need to be addressed at one time, but the door needs to be opened to some specifics so there is no guesswork by the family at an emotional time in the future.  A good way to start the dialogue is with the “Medical Power of Attorney” and the “Advance Health Care Directive,” two documents which are often found together in one form. They can be obtained from your attorney, the internet, or other organizations that deal with medical care.

Everyone should complete a “Medical Care Power of Attorney.”  This document appoints someone else to make decisions regarding your medical care when and if you are not competent to do so yourself.

Coupled with the above form, the “Advance Health Care Directive” lets your physician, family, and friends know your healthcare preferences. Special treatments you do or do not want at the end of life, including your desire for diagnostic testing, surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or organ donation are examples of items that can be included in your directive.

After healthcare options have been discussed, it should make for an easier transition to the topic of funeral and/or cremation arrangements. You could start by confirming with your family where your burial plots are located and letting them know if there is a vault already in place. Giving your family this kind of practical information will lead to discussions about whether you want to have services at a church or funeral home, about the type of casket or urn, the kinds and colors of flowers, or the music or hymns you might prefer.

Your funeral director can meet with you and any other family members of your choosing to present all of the options available, answer questions, and prepare a comprehensive funeral plan.  When the whole family is talking about end-of-life issues, it will give everyone the peace of mind of knowing that all will be carried out exactly as you planned when the time comes.

Testimonial:

“After both my husband and my mother had died, I realized that there was no one left to carry out my wishes regarding my own funeral arrangements when the time came. It seemed to me to be the practical thing to do along with creating a will and writing an advanced health care directive. Bill guided me through the process step by step, asking me the kinds of questions that I would not have thought of on my own. I have been asked if making pre-arrangements for my own funeral was morbid; it was most decidedly not. It has given me peace of mind, knowing that my wishes will be followed and that no one has to guess at what I wanted.  Over the years as the circumstances of my life have changed, I have updated the arrangements. Being able to do that, too, has been comforting and left me worry-free.” ~ Tanya L.

William E. King is a funeral director at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes. Bill is the Advanced Planning Manager and has 20 years of experience in the funeral industry. He received a BA from Loyola College Baltimore and later a Mortuary Science degree from the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville.


William E. King is a funeral director at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes. Bill is the Advanced Planning Manager and has 20 years of experience in the funeral industry. He received a BA from Loyola College Baltimore and later a Mortuary Science degree from the Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville.


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