Why A Pledge? Why Now?



Perhaps you’ve already chosen a Healthcare ‘Agent’, and have had The Conversation with them…

If so, then well done — But then this Pledge is not for you. It’s for others who are coming on the road behind you.

This Pledge is for people who recognize their mortality, but are still coming to terms with it. The Pledge is a Call to Action. It is simple tool, like a lever, designed to help lift a heavy weight. A weight or apprehension so keen, that most of us block it from our daily awareness. And there it slumbers, until stirred by aging or illness or a dawning recognition… A growing recognition that to face our mortal fear of dying will not be the end of us, but to the contrary, may offer a pivotal rite of passage.

The purpose of the Pledge is to help us embark, and to navigate the passage.

The Process May Be Uncomfortable… Be Bold

Here’s an invitation to look in the mirror and to be honest with yourself. How many more years do you think you have?

Whatever the number, think back exactly that many years. Remember what you were doing then, as vividly as possible… Look at how quickly the time has passed between then and now… It will go even quicker from here on out. You know it will.

So, I’m asking you to do something uncomfortable, and to do some heavy lifting. I’m asking you to acknowledge one of our culture’s most self-defeating taboos, our stubborn reluctance to discuss death and dying.

Then to be willing to talk about it with people who love you.

Fledgling Steps

Let’s be honest, we’re hardwired NOT to jump into things that we’re told are bound to be uncomfortable.

I’m asking you to stretch. It’s a choice of accepting a relatively small discomfort today, in the name of sparing yourself untold anguish downstream. Please take my word for it.

As a hospital chaplain,  some of the most distraught conversations that I participate in and overhear are the result of poor communication and lack of planning between patient and family members prior to a current illness and hospitalization.

If you could see and hear for yourself, just once, the heartbreak that family members struggle with at the hospital regarding life and death issues, I believe that you’d take the Pledge, and have The Conversation with your loved ones in no time at all.

Our Values , Hopes, and Preferences Surrounding the End of Life

The Pledge is an agreement we make with ourselves, to reflect on what’s important to us. What do I value? What are my hopes? My fears? My preferences going forward? Who do I want to have nearby, to be of support?

The power of The Pledge lies in taking responsibility… And improving communication with those near and dear to us, about what matters most.

Making the Pledge marks a willingness to anticipate the end of life, and to plan and prepare for it as we would any significant event. Beginning where we are. Recruiting help. Then bringing our experience, understanding and hard-earned wisdom to the task at hand.

To accomplish this may require confronting a clever adversary, — the illusion that it’s “too early” to address these matters.

A prevailing truth: it will always seem too early until it’s too late.1  Another truth: there’s not likely to be an easier time than now.

The Ghost of Jacob Marley

Remember Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol?

What if you courageously let the ghost of Jacob Marley lead you to your death bed?

What if you allowed yourself to see and feel the unnecessary suffering of not having prepared for this most personal event. Unflinchingly see and feel the result of not having made your wishes known…

And of giving away control, in your most vulnerable hour, to a hospital system, which by default is designed to keep you alive at all costs.

What would that cost you and your loved ones, physically, emotionally, and financially?

To change this potential outcome, and to replace your fear with self-determination, focus on the control you’ll gain and the relief you’ll feel by making your wishes known.

Consider and feel the appreciation and gratitude your loved ones will derive from not having to guess (in the pitch of grief) what level of care you would choose.

Feel the relief and satisfaction that will come from this and take pride in it.

If you’re reading these words, then it’s not too late. You have the time needed to take control of that future time, say what you would want and would not want, and enjoy the peace of mind that will come from doing so.

Three Decisive Steps:

While I can encourage you, the pace is yours to set. You get to choose if and when you’re ready. When you are, here are three decisive steps:

  1. To thoughtfully recruit an appropriate Healthcare Agent and to begin a series of conversations with them about what matters most to you, along the lines above. Eventually you’ll document whatever you agree on, in an Advance Directive or Living Will.
  2. To talk openly with your doctor(s) — and ask them important questions about your health. To listen carefully and take notes, all in an effort to better understand your options in the event of a serious illness.
  3. Finally, to realize and accept how difficult it is to anticipate and prepare for all possible scenarios. “I pledge to trust myself, my healthcare agent, and my doctors to confer and make joint decisions in “real time” that most faithfully represent my wishes.

Are you ready to have a say in how it goes? If so, return to the Home Page and click on: Take the Pledge.

 “… The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too… A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no (person) could have dreamt would have come their way… Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

                                                                                        – J.W. Goethe

Next Week’s Post: ‘Choosing a Suitable Agent, followed by a Post discussing the Advance Directive.

Feel free to leave a comment or question on the “Contact” page. Let me know what’s on your mind and what you’d like to hear more about. If you’d like to forward this Post, please use one of the Blue links below.

‘Safe Journeys, until next week –