How much control do you have over your death?

How much control do you want over the final days, weeks and months of your life?

A. I don’t want to think about that. I’m confident that the medical profession will do what’s right by me.

B. I don’t want to think about that, but I have a sense I should do something. The medical profession seems to focus on keeping people alive as long as possible with little or no consideration about quality of life.

C. I want as much control as possible. I have no way of knowing if my process of dying will have any semblance of grace and dignity. But I don’t know where to start looking.

If you answered “A” you can delete this and get on with your day. If you answered “B” or “C” please read on.

I won’t go into detail about the big picture, which is well documented by Compassion and Choices (C&C), a national “death with dignity” advocacy group. It’s all there at compassionandchoices.org. Evan Nison is the New Jersey contact person at enison@compassionandchoices.org. (908-812-0473)

The immediate focus in New Jersey is the New Jersey Death With Dignity Act, which recently cleared an assembly committee. The act (A2270 and S382) would give people access to a full range of options in the final stages of life to alleviate pain and suffering and, if desired, allow for self-administered medication to end life for people who are terminally ill with a six-month or less prognosis.

This type of law is in place in Washington, Montana and Vermont and is supported by up to 63% of New Jersey voters.

A good way to start your process is to spend some time on the C&C website and, if so inclined, sign on as a supporter of the Death With Dignity Act.

I’ll have more personal reflections on this extremely important issue in future blogs.

 

Attention Everyone!

There’s an underlying issue that often emerges after spouses give up trying to convince me who is “right” or “wrong” in a conflict: “I don’t feel I’m getting enough attention!” Most often this is voiced by the more process-oriented female. But many men offer their own “manly” version. Why is this so common among today’s couples? Perhaps it’s work or financial pressures or children’s needs or obsession with the internet or simply bad habits. A solution: intentional undistracted couple’s time on a regular basis. Even with pressures, this can be accomplished if the motivation is strong enough. Couples researcher, John Gottman, puts forth the “three-hour rule” as the minimum time partners need to focus positively on each other every week. To highlight this simple but elusive concept, I use the relationship metaphor of a spectacularly beautiful flowering plant in front of the couple’s house. It often gets admired in passing, but nobody takes the time to give it water. At one point its beauty starts to fade. One day it starts to droop. And one day it’s beyond salvation. My work with couples aims to make sure that day doesn’t arrive.