The Royal Family has a new baby! The baby boy’s arrival was expected and joyous. Most women create a plan when they become pregnant: prenatal care, a birth plan, and the date of the baby’s arrival. There is much joy and anticipation on how lives will be changed with the arrival. Education about pregnancy and delivery is easily obtainable by the mother, partner, and extended family. It is a time of life that a lot of plans are made. Everyone’s birth is a different and unique experience.
This was not always the case. Before the 1970’s, hospital births included general anesthesia and longer stays in the hospital, often the mother not remembering the experience and the father nowhere in sight. Times changed, we became more educated and a light was shined on why we do things a certain way and changes were made.
Death is also different and unique for individuals and their families, in that the dying process is still one that most people do not know about. What to expect, and the timing of the symptoms that could mean death is imminent are not well known. Like birth, death is going to happen, but ignoring it until you or your loved one is faced with it, does not help you. For some it remains a forbidden topic and is not discussed at all. Like birth, it is a personal journey.
As baby-boomers age they will be facing health care decisions and end-of-life wishes in record numbers. Ten-thousand people a day become eligible for Medicare, and it is estimated that by 2050, 20% of the population will be over 65.
At a birth, we wish the new arrival a long happy life with the world of possibilities available to them. As we plan for death, we may wish for the time that is left to be of good quality, and for our family and friends to be around us. Or perhaps, we limit the people around us and choose not to have aggressive measures taken. These decisions on this personal life experience are ours to make. Times have changed, we now need to shine a light on the way we currently think about the dying process and how we want our own death experience to happen.
Whether you are diagnosed with an aggressive cancer such as malignant mesothelioma or you are a healthy adult, no one knows when their time on this earth will end. No one wants to talk about one’s end of life wishes, but it is a conversation that should be had. Starting the conversation may prove difficult for some, there are ways to make it more comfortable.
Start the conversation, you never know how and when you will be thankful that you did start it!