A few years ago, I created the Heartfelt Advance Care Plan booklet to provide my clients with a tool to improve their end-of-life care, to honor their choices and to reduce conflict and guilt among surviving family members. Those who do fill it out usually comment about how difficult yet rewarding it was to complete.

Asking and answering detailed questions about end-of-life wishes, regardless of how difficult it may be, is tremendously helpful to both the dying and their survivors.

Photo of eggs, spam and riceFor example, a wife and husband discussed in detail his wishes during his last days, as well as what he would like to see happen after he passed. The husband, who was usually not a humorous man, answered the uncomfortable questions with a sense of playfulness and humor. In response to one of the questions about his last meal, he said he would like spam, eggs and rice — and so she prepared this last meal to enjoy with her family. To onlookers, this may appear to be a rather minor thing. To his family, it was profoundly meaningful.

After he passed, she followed his instructions and planned the funeral in accordance with his wishes. She was able to carry out his expressed wishes, allowing him to take control of his life, the end of his life and thereafter, through his answers to the hard questions.

She was able to be by his side during his waning days, fully present and at peace because she knew what he desired during this transitional period of life.

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