Since the beginning of Chapter 1 (Let’s Talk about Death and Dying), the importance of having death-related conversations has been a common theme. Practices tied to being more death positive and the death positivity movement include: having general conversations about death and end-of-life related topics with those around us (hosting or attending a Death Cafe or Death with Dinner event); paying tribute to lives lost through visiting memorials; showing up and being present for people who are grieving the loss of loved one; helping foster compassionate communities though shovelling the walks of an elderly neighbour; sitting down with our loved ones for an open conversation about everyone’s values and wishes for end-of-life care. The next step is to actually sit down and make end-of-life care plans including Advanced Care Plans, appointing substitute decision makers, and creating Wills. This chapter explores the development of Advanced Care Plans, Wills, and Powers of Attorney. It also covers choosing substitute decision makers and the importance of having open conversations, so that everyone’s end-of-life wishes can be honoured.
After completing the chapter materials, you should have an understanding of:
- Advanced Care Plans, what they are, the steps to developing one, and the importance of having one.
- Appointing a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM), their roles and powers, and things to consider when selecting one.
- The different types of Powers of Attorney, what they are, why they are important, and what powers they give to the person appointed.
- The types of work that must be done when someone dies.
- The importance of having “the conversation” with loved ones (and SDMs) in advance, while we are healthy.
Questions to Think About When Completing Chapter Materials
- What things would you want in your advanced care plan?
- Who do you think you would select as your substitute decision maker? What are your reasons for selecting this person? How are they best positioned to know your values and wishes and to honour them?
- Think of the assets you may have (e.g., money in the bank, a car, a computer or tablet, a smart watch or phone, jewellery, etc.). Who would you want to leave these things to? How can you make sure that this would occur if something happened to you? Who would make sure that that happened?
- Think of what you would like to ask for or share with your family during a conversation about death and end-of-life wishes. How could you start that conversation?