As a hospice spiritual caregiver, it’s hard to bring comfort to a family when they are fighting.

I was recently in one of those ugly scenes where a mother lay dying while her children and grandchildren argued around her bed. They quarreled about the family estate and what would be the best care for their mother. They had different opinions on what size the grave stone should be and whether they should have macaroni or potato salad at the funeral lunch. It was miserable and my heart went out to them as I suggested that perhaps their mother would appreciate hearing her family’s affirmation and appreciation.

I have seen other such scenes where families squabble about whether to discontinue a loved-one’s life support. Should Mom’s eyes be donated?

These kinds of scenes make me thankful that my parents have written out their desires in detail, using the proper legal documents to do so. After a recent Thanksgiving Dinner, the dishes were cleared and the family was in a jovial mood. Dad and Mom took an hour to tell us what was important to them in regard to their elder care and funerals. Yes, they even specified what will be on the menu for the funeral luncheon. We then took the opportunity to tell our parents what we appreciate about them. It was all upbeat with lots of humor and laughter.

I think one of the most loving things we can do for our loved-ones is to spell out our wishes in regard to medical care, our estate and funerals. It minimizes the potential for conflict and gives us a voice at the table when decisions need to be made. I hope our family will be able to continue to experience the support of one another as Dad and Mom age.

My wife and I have also completed the necessary Advanced Medical Directives, Trust, Wills and even indicated our wishes for our funerals. Me? Hah! I prefer tacos and ice cream at my funeral lunch.

Author: Greg Carson, Spiritual Care Coordinator

Photo by Craig Gardiner Photography

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