Imagine I told you that sometime in the future you are going to have to jump out of a plane. That’s it, no explanation or reason but you are not allowed to refuse.
How do you feel? Angry? Scared? Sad? No one jumps out of a plane and survives right? This is likely to pray on your mind to a greater or lesser extent much of the time.
Now imagine that you get more information. You are told that you will have a parachute, you will be given instruction on how to use it when the time comes, you are told you will be jumping with an experienced instructor. You are also given choice – how high would you like to jump from, which airfield would you like to do this at? Which of your friends and families would you like to come and support you?
Now how do you feel? Still a bit scared I imagine but probably much better than you did to begin with and able to get on with life in the knowledge that when the time comes you will at least be prepared even if you are not looking forward to it.
Let’s now swap jumping out of a plane for dying. You are going to die at some point in the future. Knowledge and planning is the best way to reduce any fears you might have. Planning doesn’t make anything more or less likely to happen (let’s face it death is inevitable – fortunately jumping out of a plane isn’t!)
Making plans for your own end of life isn’t morbid, it’s reassuring and once you have a plan in place you can get on and life your life. I am 46 and I have an advance care plan. I like to do crazy stuff – I don’t know if one day I will lose my capacity to make or communicate my own decisions. I do know that if I am in a situation where my chances of a meaningful recovery are slim to zero I would prefer to be allowed to die a natural death rather than being kept alive by drugs or machines.
Anyone can make an advance care plan simply by printing out and filling in the following form. Make sure you sign the document and discuss your wishes with your loved ones so that in the event you can’t choose, your care will be that which you would choose for yourself.
Remember don’t get on that plane without your parachute!