stimulating profound conversations about living and dying well
Updating advance care directives helps avoid medical error and more
A Helpful Tip: Paperwork takes us out of the moment and seems like a bothersome chore to many people. If you’re not one to dwell on your mortality, writing an Advance Directive can get shuffled to the bottom of your priorities indefinitely. However, according to this Huffington Post article, “patients who have planned in advance for the end of their lives spend less time in the hospital, receive fewer intensive treatments, and have greater quality of life when they reach their final days. In addition, their surviving relatives experience less stress, anxiety and depression during the process.”
We at Persephone Passages recommend that you create an Advance Directive now, even if you believe you are years away from death. An Advanced Directive gives caregivers who are not familiar with your medical history guidance in an emergency. It also tells first responders and emergency room doctors what kind of treatments you do and do not wish to receive should you be too ill to communicate.
How to do it: Ask your family doctor to recommend a resource to help you create an Advance Directive. ACDs are specific to each province (if you're in Canada like us) or state (if you reside in the USA). They will know which form is recognized in your area of residence. This is the form for British Columbia. Then review your Advance Directive every one to five years, or whenever you feel your worldview or values have changed. Reviewing the document is like checking in with your past self. It helps you notice how you’ve grown or remained consistent, and affirms your autonomy over your bodily care. As you consider your medical wishes, also consider who in your family and inner circle needs to know about them. Check in with people in your support network. This will also give you the opportunity to deepen the bonds between you and the people you love. When your loved ones know your wishes in a medical emergency, the experience will be less stressful for them, too.
Persephone Passages and Sacred Embodiment Founder Juniper Quin riffs on birth, death, and everything in between. She lives in North Vancouver, BC in the traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish nations with her husband, father-in-law, and an ever-expanding family of mostly edible houseplants.