Spiritual Baby Steps

"Doing" spirituality in the real world

Planning for the Unexpected

I’m involved in a new project at work. I’ve been having conversations with healthy adults about deciding what they would want if they were in an accident or had a sudden injury, like a stroke, and couldn’t speak for themselves. It makes for interesting conversation. In addition to exploring what they would want, we also talk about choosing a good healthcare agent to speak for them and how to have a conversation with that person about taking on the role.

So far, the people I’ve talked to have been pretty clear about what they want. Some have actually talked to the person they want to have speak for them. Many haven’t actually had that conversation, although they agree that it would be a “good idea”.

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
~Benjamin Franklin

What’s interesting to me is that we call this process ‘planning for the unexpected’ despite the fact that dying is one of the few things that is guaranteed to happen. You will die and you should expect that this will happen to you… no getting out of it!

The problem is, we avoid having the conversation because… well… who wants to talk about dying? And even if we’re comfortable with it, it’s not really something you bring up casually in conversation. “Yes, a double mocha, please and oh, by the way, have I filled you in on how I want to die?”

The thing is, when we don’t take the time to have the conversation, we put our loved ones in an awful spot. Besides potentially not having our wishes followed (since we didn’t bother to tell anyone what those wishes were), we also force our loved ones to make decisions when they may not feel confident in their choices. That’s a lot of pressure and often times can lead to guilt and anxiety if they’re uncertain of, or not everyone weighing-in agrees on, what you would have wanted.

I know we’d all like to think that we have plenty of time and that life will be the standard 80+ years for everyone… but I’m going to encourage you not to wait for the ‘unexpected’ — go ahead and have that conversation now!

Thanks for letting me diverge slightly from my usual topics to share my passion about this work! Wishing you love and laughter… and the death you always imagined when the ‘unexpected’ happens! ~Rashel


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4 thoughts on “Planning for the Unexpected

  1. Wonderful to see the funny side of the absurd.

  2. Thank you for this thought provoking piece. I have had these conversations with my loved ones and I feel at peace and I am pretty sure that I will have the death I imagine should the unexpected happen 🙂

  3. Thank you for tackling this topic, Rashel. You make so many good points here. Since I recently just completed my advance directive (with your help), I actually feel more peaceful, at ease, and accepting of both the inevitable (death) and the unexpected (sudden accident, stroke, whatever). It is well worth it for the peace of mind, alone, as well as knowing that my daughter and her husband will know and respect my wishes. I encourage everyone to do this!

  4. Reblogged this on Oakland Cityscapes and commented:
    This is an excellent post by my friend and colleague, Rashel Sanna, about a very important topic. We all need to plan for death, unpleasant as it may seem. I recently completed an advance directive with Rashel’s help since we work together. It gave me an enormous sense of peace of mind, and I know it is helpful for my daughter and her husband and several close friends to know my wishes.

    Please visit my blog at http://www.eleanorvincent.com for more reflections on death, dying, grief recovery, and life in general.

    Be well!

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