By Jennifer Kropack,
When physicians write about “brutal endings” —because our medical technology is ahead of our hearts and emotions—it gets my attention! The work of these times is to be more conscious, and to slow down. We must realize we can use the best of medicine when it’s called for, while also knowing when it is time to say “No more!” We can choose quality of our life over the number of days we live. It is a question for each of us to decide and to share with our loved ones. If we empower ourselves with knowledge, hear stories and perspectives of others, we gain insights and relief. We, and our loved ones all benefit from intentional planning for the end of life on planet earth. Many people, however, avoid this important work.
Why is it so hard to accept this step? Simply because we have been conditioned to avoid talking about death and dying. Because of my own conditioning, I did not want to complete my end-of-life affairs for many years. Finally I did the legal work in 2009 when I was 52 years old. I had taken care of the economic and legal side of things. I even completed an Advance Directive for Healthcare. But I had overlooked the “heart work” of clarifying my values and end-of-life options. I had not yet experienced the comfort of writing love letters to leave for loved ones. Since completing that part of my legacy, in a four week-end-of-life workshop, I have felt called to guide others in this most satisfying process.
I think of my calling as “planting seeds that will sprout when they are ready.” I spread the word to friends and strangers to “talk about and plan for your own ending.” It will truly be a relief for all of us. I believe each of us need to realize the natural death most of us say we want, at home, cannot happen without planning and intention. The medical system is strong and powerful. If we want to drive our own ending, we must first prepare ourselves. Doing this work within a sacred circle of like-minded people catapults your ease and empowerment ten-fold.
A recently widowed young and vibrant workshop attendee mentioned that she did a complete 360 after discussing with her only daughter whether to be kept alive by machine if something tragic was to occur. Her daughter told her she’d want to fly from New York to Seattle to touch her still warm body even if she had no brain function so it could help with her loss, grief and closure.
None of us ever know what’s going to result from the act of clarifying your wishes.
Jennifer Kropack facilitates regular four-week workshops, in the Burien/Des Moines area of King County. For scheduled workshops and more on facilitators, go to http://speakingofdying.com/workshops-and-facilitator-bios/