Personal Stories

Please enjoy these compelling stories that others have shared about their Advance Directive journey. We welcome you to please share your own personal story here as well. It may just help others start their unique conversation about end-of-life care.

I thank him every day for that final gift he gave me.

Dotty's Story

My father died January 2, 2013 after battling lung cancer for nine months. The cancer began to consume his body; it had spread to his liver and other organs. Although the last memory of my father was seeing him fragile and speechless, I will always remember him as the man he was before the illness - active, energetic and with a smile that could light up a room. My father was never alone during his last stages. He died in his own bedroom and was surrounded by the people and things he loved the most. He was able to live his final days as he wanted because he communicated what he wanted with me.

Right after being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, we had a conversation about writing an advance directive. I know how my father wanted to die. He did not want to be resuscitated and wished for a natural but painless death. We continued that discussion until the end.

When his final day arrived, I was not ready to see him go. However, I was at ease because I knew that he had died as he wished, painlessly, peacefully and surrounded by his family. I highly encouraged others to have a discussion as soon as possible; it relieved me from making last minute decisions that could have conflicted with my father’s medical care instructions. I thank him every day for that final gift he gave me.

Death is unavoidable and difficult to face and to discuss with loved ones. However, planning for the unavoidable is necessary in order to increase the likelihood that our last wishes are honored and to save grieving family and friends from all the disorder during a difficult time.

Harold's Story

In May 2015, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. My wife and I had talked about our healthcare wishes throughout our marriage, but finding out about my cancer had forced us to discuss how I wanted to spend the rest of my days. I told my wife I don’t want to go through the pain and suffering, so I decided to put my wishes in writing and complete an advance directive. I think this process has helped me decide how I want to live the rest of my life and it also gives my family peace of mind.

...I took an oath to honor her choices, because this isn’t about me, it’s about what my mom thinks and wants.

Ruth's Story

Five months ago, before my mother fell into a vegetative state, she spoke with her doctor and me about the fate that might await her. Mum completed an advance directive, in which she answered questions about what she would want if she were unable to communicate in any way, no longer take care of herself, mentally and physically, and no possibility of recovery. As her primary caregiver, I have read her directive over many times. She clearly said, "I do not want my life to be prolonged by medical interventions, such as feeding tubes or breathing tubes." I believe that my mother is very courageous to make such decisions. However, I don’t agree with it because I am not ready to let her go. Still, I took an oath to honor her choices because this isn’t about me, it’s about what my mum thinks and wants.

Planning ahead has brought peace to my family. It was hard for them to hear me talk about my end-of-life choices, but now that they know what I want, they have accepted it. I think one day they will consider this a gift.

Robert's Story

I recently had a talk with my three teenage sons. Being in the healthcare field, I know that having a conversation about my end-of-life wishes is just as important as talking about sex and substance abuse. I decided to plan ahead and write an advance directive.

My children have agreed to respect and follow my end-of-life decisions. They know I want to be on a life-support system only if my doctors think it could help but it should be stopped if my illness is terminal or my health condition worsens. If so, I want to be taken home, where I can die peacefully and comfortably in my sun-filled bedroom. They know I want to be cremated and my ashes spread into the ocean. I have told them I want them to be with me when it seems that death may come at any time. I know this is not a one-time conversation, I plan to continue to talk about this when new stories come up about the issue.