“I wish patients had a medical directive in place and had the end-of-life discussion with family members to help me know what to do.”
A Covid-19 ICU physician.
After writing the previous three books, Dr. Weymouth realized that it would be valuable to compile the information that was shared with her and that was gained through research into five main points to help people think and talk about death, examine their beliefs and values, and prepare for their own death and that of loved ones. People don’t like to talk about their own deaths or face the inevitability that they and their loved ones will eventually die, so it is hard to know how to open the conversation about it. This is addressed in the first chapter of the book, If You Love Me You Will Talk to Me About Dying.
What’s in the book?
In Chapter 1, How to Open the Conversation About Dying and Death, and Why It’s Important, there are suggestions on how to approach this subject. One of the easiest ways is to talk about someone’s death whom you knew, what you know about the cause of death, and the funeral or memorial service. This allows you to say what you did and did not like, what you would wish for yourself, and ask others for their thoughts. This conversation can lead you into deeper discussions which will cover such things as wills, advance medical directives, and personal subjects such as beliefs, hopes, and fears.
Chapter 2, Each Death is Unique, opens with “There are only three things that are part of each death: the person stops breathing, the heart stops, and the organs shut down. Otherwise, everything is different, which makes it impossible to create a roadmap. Every inch of the journey has to be navigated and managed as it comes up.” This chapter also addresses the results of unhealed grief.
Chapter 3, Unfinished Business and How it Contributes to a Peaceful or Difficult Death, contains information from health care professionals who said they can see the difference between a difficult or peaceful death and how unfinished business plays a significant role in difficult deaths. Most often the unfinished business is about relationships that have not been resolved
Chapter 4, Support Systems, covers different kinds of support systems during a terminal illness and after a death. It also explains the difference between hospice and palliative care.
Chapter 5, Understand Your Own Beliefs and Experiences and How They Contribute to the Dying, Death, and Grief Process, may be the most important chapter in the book. It takes you through a series of questions about your beliefs, your highest values, and what you want for yourself. Every decision that has to be made will be made through these lenses so they are very important to examine.
Chapter 6, The Love Contract, is a list of points to cover with your loved ones so that they know what you want and don’t want for medical care, as well as practical issues like wills, advance medical directives, location of important papers, passwords, and so on.
The four Appendices are Signs and Stories of Survival After Death; Near-Death Experiences; Pre-and-Post Death Paperwork; and What to Do if Someone Dies at Home.
How will it help me?
This book is ideal for use as a guide for your own and your loved ones’ preparations, as well as classroom, group, workshop discussions, and with conversations with your therapist and/or spiritual adviser.