End of Life2 MP3
This blog post was first published on our sister site at http://intensivecarehotline.com a blog designed to instantly improve the lives of Families who have a critically ill loved one in Intensive Care
In last week’s blog I was talking about how critical it is that you are bringing yourself and your family into the end of life process, if your loved one is dying in Intensive Care. I was also briefly touching on what an emotional rollercoaster this journey can be for you and for your family. Today I want to give you five action steps and I also want to shed more light on how you can achieve peace of mind.
Peace of mind is critical for you and for your family so that you know that the death of your critically ill loved one is a “good death”. Again, Intensive Care Units and individuals are different in their approaches towards end of life care, therefore don’t assume that “they know it all”, as end of life care is challenging even for the most “seasoned” end of life carer in Intensive Care.
I have seen a lot of families in Intensive Care that are going through the process of losing a loved one in Intensive Care to their critical illness and they are more often than not paralysed by fear, frustration and Family’s generally tend to be helpless. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Get involved, have an opinion and have a think and a vision of how the end of life situation should look like from your perspective. Remember, the death of your loved one is a “once in a lifetime” situation and the specifics and the details will stay with you and your family for the rest of your life. It’s therefore important that you make it a good memory and a good experience.
Also, remember, I mentioned last week that being involved in end of life care from a health professional point of view is a privilege. Now, think about this for a moment. If some health professionals think that it’s a privilege, can you shift the feeling by looking at the situation differently? What if you shifted the feeling from fear, frustration and helplessness to making it a privilege? Is it a privilege that you and your Family can be involved in the last phase of the life of your loved one? Is it a privilege that this “once in a lifetime” situation can be looked at differently?
In order to get from point A to point B, with point A being the fear, the grief, the loss, the frustration and the helplessness and point B being “a good death”, peace of mind and a privilege, we need to shift the feeling and take control of the things that you can control. Furthermore, you need to change the situation to “a death on your terms”. If you don’t do that it’ll be a “death on the Intensive Care Unit’s terms” and that might leave a bad taste in your mouth.
In order to achieve the end result, in order to achieve that critical peace of mind for you and for your family and in order to achieve “a death on your terms”, you need to get involved, you need to start asking questions and you need to have an idea and a vision of what the end of life of your loved one needs to look like so that you can have peace of mind.
Do you need more time? Do you want to have other family members or friends involved? Do you want to have your loved one dying at home? Do you want to address certain spiritual, cultural and/or religious needs? What would your loved one think should happen?
Also, think about your loved ones life. Has he or she lived a good life? Do you and your family want to celebrate their life? Would this approach help you to find peace of mind?
In order to shift the feeling and in order to achieve a “death on your terms” here are five simple action steps how you can achieve that
1. Learn that “truth” is a very thin concept in Intensive Care
The “truth” is something health professionals in Intensive Care are trying to “sell” to you, with the “truth” being the clinical and tangible facts such as your loved one having a certain critical illness and therefore a certain tangible prognosis.
What is your “truth”? What do you think about the situation? How do you think your critically ill loved one is coping with the situation? Besides all the ‘clinical facts’ that doctors and nurses are telling you, how do you feel about your critically ill loved one’s ability to deal with adversity and setbacks? Do you think that your critically ill loved one can deal with the ‘clinical challenges’? Do you think that he or she can beat the odds? If you think so than you should move heaven and earth to make your voice heard. Don’t let the pessimism and the ‘clinical opinion’ of other people inhibit your inner voice.
2. Find meaning in adversity
Finding meaning in your situation could be critical for your and for your Family’s peace of mind. Is there a meaning in your difficult situation? Does it bring your family closer together? Is there a lesson to be learned?
I’ll give you an example. I lost an uncle in Intensive Care at the young age of 51 and it was an absolutely devastating situation. I was only a teenager at the time, but it was still awful. It didn’t occur to me until later in life that his death had a meaning, but I needed to understand critical parts of my family that I hadn’t understood when I was a teenager. The rest of my (adult) family knew when he died, why he died. It still was devastating but I think that it gave the rest of my family some peace of mind.
3. Appreciate and celebrate the life your loved one had
Even though the life of your loved one may have been cut short, you should still celebrate the time your loved one had with you. Look at the positives. Wasn’t it a privilege to have your loved one in your life? No matter how hard the loss of a loved one is, you had the privilege of knowing him or her. Be grateful for that.
4. Acknowledge your fear, your loss and your grief
It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Just be yourself. It’s okay to go through the motions. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok.
5. Acknowledge whether it is a good or bad end of life situation
As I have mentioned before, in order to have that critical peace of mind, you might have to have a vision of what the death of your loved one should look like. If you don’t feel comfortable on how the situation is getting handled, step in. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. I do really believe that any situation can be improved, especially an end of life situation.
What are your thoughts? Do you have experience with end of life care? Leave your comments below.
Sincerely, your friend