Matters of Life and Death

It’s a little cluttered and disorganized on my soapbox… but I still climb up here. During a workshop on advance directives I recently led for a San Francisco women’s group, a wistful, sloe-eyed fifty-something looked up from the documents she was finishing and said, “Could we please get my mom back from the wherever to fill this out?” She then told us a tale of angst and anguish about her mother’s death, one sibling pitted against another over whether to keep up futile treatments, doctors urging one test one day and another treatment another, her frail and elderly mother unable to communicate – it’s a tale of woe all too familiar.

As I’ve blogged before and probably will blog again, if you, whatever your age and state of health, have not done your advance directive, do it right this minute. Easy. Surf over to caringinfo, a fine site run by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, and download a state-specific form, free, takes very little time or effort, do it right this minute. If you want another free form or two to help clarify your wishes and/or aid communications with friends and family, let me know and I’ll send them in Word.

What brought this up again were two serendipitous happenstances: meeting Jessica Knapp, and attending a highly enlightening lunch meeting.

I met Jessica in the blogosphere. She is articulate, literate, and eager to broaden the conversation about death and dying that most people don’t even want to think about. I happily make room for her on my soapbox. And you will enjoy her blog!!

At the End-of-Life Network meeting were two women who spoke on making life easier and better organized so its end will be easier for friends and families – and yourself too, for that matter. Check out Maggie Watson’s getting-organized workbook, and/or Cari Ann Hays’ family consulting business. Their talks inspired me to come home, drag out the yet-incomplete life-organizer book my good friend Carol Carruba (I’ll send her e-mail on request) created as aid and incentive tool in her real estate business. It’s an amazingly simple but thorough loose-leaf book titled My Life Organized, which my life certainly is not but don’t tell Carol. I still fit better into the client list of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization – but I think that’s another blog all to itself.


  1. Oh, thanks so much for the kind words. So sweet.My grandfather’s death last October, which I’ve posted about some on my blog, was really overwhelming for the whole family. My mom and both of her siblings experienced a lot of stress trying to decide what to do for him. I won’t get into details here, but a lot of turmoil could have been avoided if he’d written an advance directive.

  2. Fran, your blog about the EOL meeting is the reason I keep talking so openly about death and dying issues. Take one hour in the next week to review how you have communicated to family/friends about burial/cemetery, estate, misc. matters. And ask yourself, if I am not available to answer questions will my familiy/friends be able to deal with my person and estate without court, financial burden or decision making burden?

  3. hello fran, so kind of you to visit our frat-house of a medical blog. hope our antics aren’t too bad for you. i think that all of us over at MDOD are on YOUR side or this very important issue. advanced directives are so crucial to me in my job and should be absolutely crucial for everyone. i know we will have lot’s to talk about in the future. best.

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