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End of Life Planning for All

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

By Meghann Ackerman

Back in college, my best friend and I had a weekly overnight radio show. Around 4 a.m. the caffeine in our systems would hit a magical level and things would start to get weird. During those extended Velvet Underground tracks we had plenty of time to talk and, almost predictably, the subject that would come up was our funerals.

Sitting in a deserted radio station in the middle of the night can do odd things to a woman. Usually, our conversations centered on the music we would want played or the drinks we would want poured in our honors. But, sometimes, the conversation got serious.

At the time, Terri Schiavo’s parents and husband were still duking it out in court to determine her fate. The constant news coverage was enough to make two girls in their late teens think about end of life care.

Planning for my demise seemed like a practical, if a bit unpleasant, necessity of life. After all, I will die and when my bell tolls I may not be able to make decisions.

Getting married meant I got a new next of kin and I needed to make sure he knew when to pull the plug. Being that we’re relatively young, people seem to think it’s Victor’s aortic stenosis that triggered these discussions. Sure, a congenital heart defect is a serious medical condition that we both take seriously. But, until people started suggesting otherwise, it never made me think of Victor as being weaker or closer to death than me.

The way I see it is that we’re both alive, which makes us both susceptible to death.


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