I Am Living

Death is one of the few certainties in life. Although the significant advances in medicine have meant that, on average, we can expect to live longer and healthier lives than our previous generations, this is not going to be the case for everyone.

While some people will live for years or decades with a life-limiting illness, others may experience a sudden and unexpected death or became unresponsive and therefore unable to make decisions for themselves.

It follows that because we cannot predict our moment of death with any accuracy, planning for dying and death has to take place timely, if possible, when enjoying full health. You do not need to wait for a terminal diagnoses to plan for end-of-life. In fact, you may wish to consider engaging in end-of-life care discussions and planning at key points in your adult life, for example:

  • first job;
  • university graduation;
  • marriage;
  • first child’s birth;
  • separation or divorce

Professionals across disciplines (for example: law, medicine) advise us to hold discussions with those important to us and plan timely for end-of-life when healthy. This is because lack of planning can:

  • lead to complex treatment decision-making which influence the care received;
  • lead people to experience situations and medical treatments (for example: invasive and futile medical treatments), which are not in-keeping with their wishes and preferences;
  • create tensions between people with a life-limiting illness, those who are important to them, their caregivers, and, perhaps, the healthcare system; and
  • create feelings of anxiety, guilt, fear and stress when significant others are left to make important decisions for someone whose wishes have not been made clear to them.