“This to me is the genius of Five Wishes, that it cuts through the culture of silence and alienation and offers practical tools that allow everyday people to prepare for those difficult conversations” Tom Neal, PhD is Academic Dean and professor of Spiritual Theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Recently, I was speaking to a group of business leaders about hospice and my role as hospice chaplain. In that presentation I addressed the very real fear many Americans have of talking about their own death. “It’s almost like we will ‘invite’ death; jinx ourselves, if we talk about death and dying” I suggested. And while addressing that issue I introduced advanced directives and the critical need each of us has to create an advanced directive. I offered the Five Wishes booklet as a valuable tool to use in that process of having ‘the talk’ with family members.
I explained that Five Wishes is a short booklet which meets the legal requirements for an advance directive in South Carolina and Georgia. The wishes spell out these 5 critical advanced directives.
1. The Person I Want to Make Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t.
2. The Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want.
3. How Comfortable I Want to Be.
4. How I Want People to Treat Me.
5. What I Want My Loved Ones to Know
After that brief presentation a gentleman approached me, shook my hand…hard, and said, “thank you, thank you, thank you. I cannot tell you how important your message is and I hope everyone in the room responds.” What surprised me was that this business man was not in the medical profession, clergy or psychology field. He was an insurance salesman. And he had recently left the home of a family member who has suffered an unexpected tragedy and was not able to express to his family what his end of life desires were because he could not answer for himself. No one knew what he wanted, and no one knew how to move forward. “If only he had an advanced directive.”
People like my friend in the insurance field, as well as medical professionals and clergy are on the front lines that see the devastating consequences of not having had ‘the talk’ with family. There is no doubt that conversation may be difficult and uncomfortable. But we should have it. And the Five Wishes booklet is an enormously valuable tool that should be used to help with that conversation. Dr. Neal is right, “…it cuts through the culture of silence and alienation and offers practical tools that allow everyday people to prepare for those difficult conversations”.
You, the reader, may be blessed to live in a family freed from the culture of silence and alienation. Or you, like many of us, live with loved ones that are afraid of having that talk. If so, then I encourage you to contact St. Luke Missionary Hospice for a free copy. Call us at 843-473-3055 or write us a 16 William Pope Drive, Okatie, SC 29909, or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to send one. Or you can go to the Five Wishes website and purchase a copy. https://agingwithdignity.org/. I also offer this helpful video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFMKOMtLhpk.
You will not regret it.
Rev. Charlie Tyler
Rev. Tyler is the Chaplain and Bereavement Coordinator for St. Luke Missionary Hospice. His 30 years in ministry has uniquely equipped him for this work. If you’d like to speak to Rev. Tyler or any of the staff at St. Luke they can be reached at 843-473-3055 or write us a 16 William Pope Dr. Suite 201. Bluffton, SC 29909.